John Gosden

Rewaaya can gain further reward

Amongst the usual array of backend maidens on Leicester’s card on Monday are a couple of excellent class 2 handicaps. We have a good quantity of runners for the first, a mile handicap, and a small but select group of six for the second over 12f. I am concentrating on those races for my two selections today.

Leicester 2.30: Ingleby Angel

Trainer David O’Meara is responsible for three of the ten runners in this mile contest and stable jockey Daniel Tudhope has chosen Ingleby Angel. Although the 5yo has yet to win in 2014, he has shaped well on his last couple of starts and came good at this time of year last season.

The gelding knows how to win races having won 8-37 in his career, and he won twice on very bad ground towards the end of 2012, so it is surprising that he has raced so infrequently on soft ground since. Six of those wins have come at a mile, so this is very much his trip, although he has a win over 9f to his credit as well, which could be useful on this stiff mile on soft going.

He has a couple of second places to his name this season, in the Thirsk Hunt Cup in the spring and at Ayr in July, but most of his best performances in previous seasons have come from mid-August onwards and he finished in the first half of the field in the Cambridgeshire last month, before keeping on nicely into fifth at Haydock last time, a first go on soft ground this season. He has dropped to a season low mark of 93 today, just 3lbs higher than his last winning mark at Redcar last October.

Leicester 3.30: Rewaaya

With doubts about the rest of the field for one reason or another, Rewaaya looks the only solid option with proven form both on soft ground and over this 12f trip and she can overcome her relative lack of experience with victory here.

Her first three careers runs all came with cut in the ground. Very green when down the field at Ascot, she showed she had learnt plenty from that experience with a facile 9l win over this course and distance in an admittedly modest maiden. Having been kept on the sidelines whilst the ground dried up over the summer, she was given a tough task for her reappearance from a four month break at Newmarket last month, back on softish going.

She responded with an excellent display, making much of the running before staying on strongly to beat Desert Snow by 4l. That persuaded trainer John Gosden to throw her into a valuable handicap over the same course and distance a couple of weeks ago. Sadly however the ground had dried up somewhat by then and she could never quite get on terms, despite finishing a creditable eighth. There will be no excuse on account of the ground today and this could easily be used as a stepping stone into group race company for next season.

Recommended bets:

Leicester 2.30: Ingleby Angel – 11-2 BetVictor

Leicester 3.30: Rewaaya – 15-8 general

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 Rewaaya can gain further reward

Stoute1

Have we the Stomach’ for battle in the November Handicap.

Katie T (8-1) landed our main bet for us yesterday.

Today sees the final day of the Irish Turf Flat Season and I will miss these flat cards as we head into winter hibernation.

Sir Michael Stoute is a curious visitor to Leopardstown today, particularly with a handicap representative and it might prove a shrewd piece of placing by the Newmarket based handler. His Stomachian proved a costly failure in a couple of decent handicaps at Goodwood and York prior to getting his act together when upped in trip in Doncaster’s Mallard Handicap. The way he powered clear there was encouraging and there were whispers afterwards he might develop into pattern class next season. I anticipate further progress on a genuinely soft surface today and am taking the view that the UK Handicap form is significantly stronger than the majority of similar Irish Handicap form. I think he will take a lot of beating.

Heading the list of dangers in probably Digeanta. Willie Mullins horse is a dour slogging type of horse who should appreciate softer ground even though most of his racing has been on a sound surface. He performed creditably from a wide berth in the English Cesarewitch last time and remains feasibly weighted. The deployment of cheek-pieces might just sharpen him up in the earlier juncture of the race and if he is within striking distance I the home straight, few will see out the race as strongly.

While two horses are more than enough to be backing, it would be remiss of me to let Blue Hussar go without some interest. He is undoubtedly handicapped to win and could well do so if lasting out the trip which is the big negative on hs chance today.Last weeks failure at Naas is easily forgiven as he received a poor tactical ride and is much better judged on his previous Curragh effort.

Hannahs Magic could well follow-up her win at Navan last Wednesday in the 4.00, but it might be worth chancing Gone Viral who has a similarly progressive profile. A soft ground specialist, she won snugly at Gowran in August and comes here a fresh horse today.

It might not be a bad day for Dermot Weld either. He has rock solid prospects with Afternoon Sunlight in the seven furlong listed event, while Pale Mimosa ought to have a strong chance in Longchamp’s Prix Royal Oak. A non stayer over 2m 4 f on Arc weekend, she will be a big threat to favourite Tac Du Boitron dropped back in distance today.

Meanwhile over at Aintree, Our Mick is a sporting selection in the 2m 4 f handicap. He was mainly out of form last season but ran sufficiently well in a decent handicap on Grand National Day to indicate he could take advantage off a falling mark.

Selections:

Leopardstown  2.15: 2 pts win AFTERNOON SUNLIGHT (3-1, General)

Leopardstown 3.25: 3 pts win STOMACHIAN (4-1, General) ; 1 pt ew DIGEANTA (12-1, General) ; 0.5 pts win BLUE HUSSAR (16-1, General)

Leopardstown 4.00- Without Hannahs Magic- 1.5 pts win GONE VIRAL (9-2, bet 365

Longchamp 2.40: 1 pt ew PALE MIMOSA (7-1, General)

Aintre 3.50: 1 pt ew OUR MICK (12-1, General)

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 Have we the Stomach for battle in  the November Handicap.

Philip Hobbs

Jimmy set to continue the winning habit

Unusually for a Sunday we have some quality racing in Britain and although fast ground has resulted in some reduced fields at Wincanton, Aintree’s card has held up well on good jumping ground and I have two selections from a competitive card. Lyvius was placed for the each-way bet yesterday (advised 15-2).

Aintree 2.40: Valco de Touzaine

It has not been the fastest of starts to the new season for Paul Nicholls but Valco de Touzaine can give him a boost in the 2m handicap chase on the card this afternoon at Aintree.

He showed some fine form on fast ground in the French provinces over hurdles as a 3yo, and then having transferred to the Nicholls yard that winter, he ran to a fair level in softer conditions, displaying a fine aptitude for jumping. An enthusiastic sort who can take a fair pull, he also looks best suited to a flat track such as here at Aintree.

He was below top class over fences last season, but having been too free on debut at Newton Abbot, he won his next two starts on decent ground at Wetherby and Leicester over 2m. His form was not too bad on softer ground later in the year, but a combination of a lack of class and the going seemed to blunt his style. He looks the sort who can be aimed at some of the better 2m handicaps, especially whilst the ground remains on the fast side. The application of a first time hood might help him settle on his first start of a new season, but his bold jumping style looks ideally suited to this sharp track.

Aintree 3.15: Uncle Jimmy

Still progressing at the age of seven, Uncle Jimmy won his most valuable prize yet when landing a Newton Abbot handicap a couple of weeks ago and with his 5lb rise in the weights offset by Philip Hobbs’ conditional Thomas Cheeseman’s claim, he can maintain that progression at Aintree today.

Uncle Jimmy has now won four of his twelve starts over hurdles and has that happy knack of doing just enough to win. None of his wins have been by more than 5l and the margin of victory over Sound Investment last time was value for more than the ultimate 4l distance. That is because he cruised to the front turning for home but then idled under Richard Johnson and certainly had more in the locker if required, should he have been challenged.

Third in a slowly run race over 2m4f at this meeting twelve months ago, he has since proved himself better over longer trips. A close fourth at Cheltenham next time, he saw out the 3m1f trip at Warwick on heavy ground without a problem, scoring under today’s pilot. He disappointed at the two major festivals in Britain in the spring, but I have a suspicion that he is a better horse during the first half of the season and therefore it might be wise to stick with him whilst we know he is in form.

Recommended bets:

Aintree 2.40: Valco de Touzaine – 4-1 general

Aintree 3.15: Uncle Jimmy – 13-2 Coral, Stan James

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 Jimmy set to continue the winning habit

Prendergast

Katie looking good at Leopardstown

The penultimate fixture of the Irish Flat Season. Not an easy day to find solid selections but some enthralling racing all the same.

 

My main bet of the day comes in the concluding race at Leopardstown, the potentially well handicapped Katie T. On the one hand, the morning gamble is a little annoying as we are not getting the price we would like, but on the other hand, it is good to know that money is being punted on the horse, indicating she is fancied to be ready to roll on her first start in five months. Representing octogenarian handler Kevin Prendergast (pictured) , Katie showed glimmers of ability in a few flat conditions races last year, before improving steadily when switched to National Hunt code last winter. She reverts to the flat off what looks a lenient mark and also will have no problem with the soft conditions. Having watched a few of her previous races, I am off the opinion that the daughter of Beneficial has the sufficient speed and gears to prove effective in a middle distance flat handicap. I await her run with much interest.

The main threat is possibly Pyromaniac, who appears on a stiff enough mark, but is progressing steadily and has that crucial turn of foot that is always beneficial.

In the preceding one mile handicap, top-weight Defining Year could be worth a few bob. We are taking the chance that he will be on one of his going days, but the forecast soft ground ought to help in that regard. His penultimate run at Galway when fourth in the Topaz Mile stands out as arguably the best recent handicap form and he looks ideally placed in berth 11.

Fiscal Focus also commands respect. Jim Bolger’s representative has proven soft ground form and might be classier than most in the line up. His win at Leopardstown last spring was good form and after a summer lull in form, he bounced back when winning at Killarney last time. Connections have been waiting for the testing ground and opportunities are now running out.A mark of 88 could be within his compass.

 

Across the sea, I found the twelve furlong handicap at Donny tricky to sort out. I will give a tentative vote to Ruwasi who might be open to improvement encountering genuinely testing ground. I was impressed with his run against Air Pilot earlier in the season and he looked progressive winning at Thirsk on his penultimate start. He needs to step up considerably on what was only an average effort at Newmarket behind Winter Thunder, but I anticipate a better performance with much more juice underfoot today.

 

Selections:

 

Doncaster 2.40: 0.75 pts win RUWASI (6-1, General)

Leopardstown 4.55:  1 pt ew DEFINING YEAR (16-1, General) ; 1 pt win FISCAL FOCUS (9-1, Ladbrokes)

Leopardstown 5.25: 3 pts ew KATIE T (7-1, Sky Bet) ; 0.75 pts win PYROMANIAC (11-2, General)

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 Katie looking good at Leopardstown

Battalion

Battalion can fight off Newbury rivals

Some really good racing on offer today as many of the flat boys go for one last time at two excellent fixtures at Newbury and Doncaster, whilst we have plenty of warriors returning to battle over jumps at Chepstow and Aintree. I have a couple of selections each from Newbury, with soft ground specialists favoured, and two from Aintree where the going remains good.

Newbury 2.20: Battalion

There is no doubt that Battalion has his quirks, but despite veering badly off a straight line, he ran well to be third in another Group 3 at Kempton last month and with soft ground holding no terrors for him he ought to be a danger to all at Newbury today.

The real selling point for him in this contest however, apart from a liking for the ground, is that he is comfortable making the running, whilst the majority of this field look best being ridden from off the pace. In Silvestre de Sousa he has an ideal jockey to make the most of a potential tactical advantage, so we should expect Battalion to be winding up the pace gradually to get first run on his rivals.

An impressive winner of a high grade handicap on slow ground in the spring, he was well backed to win at this track in May, but found the fast ground all against him. Nevertheless trainer William Haggas thought enough of him to declare him for the Group 1 Coronation Cup on Derby Day, only for him to be withdrawn late on due to the drying ground. He found his best form at Kempton, despite taking that unusual path late on, but the application of cheekpieces could aid his concentration and keep him straight today.

Aintree 2.30: Lyvius

Something of an in and out performer to date, Lyvius has to defy top weight for this class 3 handicap at Aintree, but the opposition does not look as strong as it could have been for the grade and Nicky Henderson’s charge has always run well first time out. If maintaining that excellent record fresh he remains on a feasible mark here.

His first time out efforts over jumps have featured a debut win in a Kelso novice, but most impressively a listed race success at Newbury against a quality field two seasons ago. Last year he was only fourth at Ascot, but that was his only run over fences in his career and his defeat was entirely down to some poor jumping – the fact he has been returned to hurdles since confirms that.

He went on to run two fine races immediately afterwards, a fine second at Cheltenham handling the good ground well and then a narrow but brave win at Kempton. His form tailed off again after that, but a summer break will have freshened him up nicely and he is only 5lbs higher than for that Kempton win today. A sharp 2m4f given the fairly good going looks ideal.

Aintree 3.00: Uxizandre

Undoubtedly the best race of the day, and indeed the jumping season so far in Britain, is the Old Roan Chase at Aintree with a very competitive field assembled. Last year’s winner Conquisto is back but he could have his work cut out to hold off the progressive second season chaser Uxizandre.

A reasonable hurdler, he improved out of all recognition over fences last season. He started well with two wins in relatively low grade contests at Plumpton, although his fencing was not always totally efficient. He did not fire at Warwick next time, but a combination of top weight, very soft ground and an unusually patient ride may have worked against him that day.

That can be written off as a blip though as he bounced right back to form when so narrowly defeated in the Jewson at the Cheltenham Festival, and he was then able to make all over this course and distance in a Grade 1 at the National meeting. He wore cheekpieces on both of those starts and they have been left off today, but he seems thoroughly genuine so there is every chance he won’t need them anyway.

Newbury 3.30: Hi There

A winner of this race on the card twelve months ago in heavy conditions, Hi There is dangerously well handicapped if returning to near his best back on his favoured slow ground today.

He won that contest under today’s pilot Sammy Jo Bell from a mark of 91 and he has struggled from a higher rating for most of this season. That said, he did put in a couple of decent runs in the spring, finishing fourth in the City & Suburban Handicap at Epsom and sixth at the same track at the Derby meeting.

He has struggled on the drier ground since, but although ultimately well beaten at York last time, he did race too freely for his own good over 12f and will be better suited by the return to 10f here. He is back down to 88 today, the first time he has dropped below his last winning mark and hopefully we will see a revival in such gruelling conditions that he acts so well under.

Recommended bets:

Newbury 2.20: Battalion – 5-1 general

Aintree 2.30: Lyvius (each-way) – 15-2 Bet365, BetVictor

Aintree 3.00: Uxizandre – 7-2 general

Newbury 3.30: Hi There – 5-1 BetVictor

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 Battalion can fight off Newbury rivals