de sousa

All together for Unison at Windsor

We have a wide selection of races to choose from across Britain’s four fixtures on Monday, but it is a mile handicap at Windsor and a 2 mile contest at Beverley that have attracted my attention, both in the evening.

Beverley 8.15: Kirkman

On breeding he should not be able to get further than a mile at the most, but on the form he has displayed this season, Kirkham looks sure to relish this marathon 2m test for 3yo’s at Beverley this evening.

Well beaten in two juvenile maidens on the All Weather at the backend of last season, he fared no better on his return over 9f at Ripon in April.  However stepped right up to 14f for a similar maiden handicap at Redcar a month later, he galloped on strongly right to the line, only failing to catch the consistent Blue Talisman.  The way he kept on in the closing stages suggested strongly he would have got up in another furlong or so.

However his next run actually saw him drop down in distance for a maiden contest at Southwell (there are few maidens run over further than 12f).  On this occasion he lacked the pace to get anywhere near the wide margin winner, but still kept on well enough for second.  However he gets another opportunity to race against some real slowcoaches today and the stable could not be going better at present – their last three runners have all won.

Windsor 8.25: Unison

Peter Makin’s 4yo Unison was in danger of becoming a disappointing sort.  However a switch back to a mile and more positive tactics have brought about considerable improvement in recent weeks and he returns here to the scene of a course and distance win from last month.

After a series of modest efforts at the start of his career, Unison came good at about this stage last year, failing agonisingly by a nose to win at Ffos Las over a mile, before going one better at the same track over 10f a week later.  Both those performances came on soft ground, but his efforts this term have proved that he is just as effective on top of the ground conditions.

In need of the run when only finishing in mid-division at Bath over 10f on his first start for seven months, he shot to the front from the start under Silvestre de Sousa here over this mile trip next time.  He had them strung out from halfway and was always doing enough to hold on to the line.  Whilst he might have benefited from a masterly tactical ride from de Sousa on that occasion, he showed that effort to be no fluke when going close at Ascot last week when second to George Cinq (narrowly defeated again since).  With de Sousa back on board he could take some passing once more.

Recommended bets:

Beverley 8.15 – Kirkman (5-1 Paddy Power)

Windsor 8.25 – Unison (10-3 Ladbrokes)


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 All together for Unison at Windsor

Malcolm Jefferson

The Kid is alright

With Redcar threatened by heavy rain during the day I am sticking with the two meetings over jumps today for both selections.  Newton Abbot missed most of the recent rains so remains on the fast side, but Stratford has been badly affected with the going very much on the soft side this afternoon.  A solid day yesterday with Music Master (advised 4-1) scoring and Lost Legend landing the each-way bet placing at 22-1.

Stratford 3.30: The Panama Kid

At declaration time on Friday the going was on the fast side of good, but a couple of thunderstorms over the weekend means it will be pretty soft ground today.  That won’t suit any of the runners particularly, but The Panama Kid will be least inconvenienced and he is fancied to back up a recent Uttoxeter success.

Until the past few months, Malcolm Jefferson’s 10yo had only won during the months of September to December but has bucked that trend with wins in 2014 at Doncaster in January and then Uttoxeter last month.  Although good ground is clearly his favoured conditions, he has also proved more adaptable recently having won on genuine soft ground at Catterick over Christmas.

He may not be quite as good as he was when winning off a mark of 135 at Kelso in 2011, but Jefferson has certainly rekindled his enthusiasm for the game in the past year.  His Catterick win came off a career low mark of 107, but he won with something to spare off 120 at Uttoxeter last time and might be capable of defying the 7lb rise.  Qulinton would have made a bold bid from the front (and might still do) until the rain came but with stamina for this trip assured, The Panama Kid might see this out best.

Newton Abbot 3.50: Hallings Comet

In what essentially comes down to a match barring accidents I make the clash between Hallings Comet and Tzora more or less a 50-50 contest, with perhaps slight preference for Hallings Comet.  Therefore bearing in mind he is available at twice the price currently, that makes Adrian Wintle’s 5yo a good bet this afternoon.

Enthusiastic is an understatement for this gelding who takes a real hold in his races.  However that has not stopped him winning a couple of similar contests on fast ground and sharp tracks over jumps already.  A 9l winner at Worcester over Carlton Jack last summer, he made a taking debut over fences when jumping boldly around that same track, having enough in hand to hold off a solid performer from the Nicky Henderson yard in One Lucky Lady.

Unfortunately Aidan Coleman came off him at the first last time, but he has partnered him in all five starts over jumps so will know what to expect today.  I cannot see anything taking him on for the lead, so it will be all about organising himself to go the right pace to last out the 2m.  The only conceivable danger is the useful hurdler Tzora who ran well enough to be third in a class 3 handicap hurdle last time.  However he has been well beaten in a point and a hunter chase and aged nine, this is very late to be starting out properly over fences.

Recommended bets:

Stratford 3.30 – The Panama Kid (7-1 William Hill)

Newton Abbot 3.50 – Hallings Comet (7-4 general)


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 The Kid is alright


Astonishing win would be no surprise

A terrific afternoon of action with top class meetings at Newbury, Newmarket and one of the top summer jumping fixtures at Market Rasen.  I have selections from all three meetings, where hopefully they will avoid the forecast thunderstorms.  Franklin Roosevelt was a 5/1 (advised) winner in the last column on Monday.

Market Rasen 2.20: Join The Clan (7/2 general)

Although very much a quirky character, Join The Clan is an improving youngster and first time blinkers plus the assistance of AP McCoy can be enough to guide him to victory here.

A winner over 3m on softish ground off a lowly mark here in the winter, he has improved  since on faster ground. A close second when hitting the front too soon at Exeter, he was unsuited by soft ground at Haydock next time.  However he had the speed to compete over 2m4f on fast ground at Worcester last time and blinkers could just focus him more today.

Newmarket 2.25: Astonishing (11/2 general)

A mightily impressive 7l winner of a listed contest on the Rowley Mile track here last autumn, Astonishing has not made the expected progress as a 4yo this term.  However in the hope that the predicted fast ground remains, we can expect much better from her today.

There was nothing wrong with her reappearance effort on good ground at Newbury in April when fourth to Cubanita in a Group 3, especially considering Michael Stoute’s horses were needing their first run of the campaign at this time.  I strongly fancied her to build on that at Haydock next time, and she did hit the front over 2f out before tiring badly.  She was beaten even further over the same course and distance next time, but both races came with cut in the ground, especially that last start.

Her rapid progress during the second half of 2013 all came on a sound surface, winning on Polytrack at Kempton before placed efforts here and at Goodwood.  Then came that wide margin success over this 12f trip which shows she belongs at listed race level and can get into this contest without a penalty.

Newbury 3.15: Music Master (4/1 Sporting Bet)

A fine fourth in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot from an unfavourable draw last time, Music Master has the quality dropped back to Group 3 level at Newbury today.

He spent most of last season running over 7f, winning a good Newmarket maiden in the spring, before placing in a listed contest at the same track and finishing a good fifth in the Jersey Stakes at the Royal meeting.  However trainer Henry Candy gave him one go over 6f at the back end and Music Master responded with a fine second at this Group 3 level at Ascot on good-to-soft.

He has been kept to that distance since, proving far too good in a class 3 contest at Warwick on his return.  He was made far too much use of when trying to make all at Windsor on his next run, but ridden with more restraint at Ascot, he produced a career best effort behind Slade Power.  He seems equally happy on fast ground or with some cut, so he looks the reliable option here.

Market Rasen 3.30: Lost Legend (e/w 22/1 BetVictor)and Superior Quality (e/w 12/1 general)

One of the summer jumping season’s premier races, the Summer Plate at Market Rasen has attracted an excellent field and with so many front runners in the line up this could end up a war of attrition.  Two horses who can travel well from off the pace are selected as a result.

Lost Legend races for the first time on a right-handed track since spread-eagling a competitive field of chasers in a race at Kempton designed for horses balloted out of chases the week after the Cheltenham Festival.  Although most of his winning has been on a left handed course, the way he jumped out to his right when second at Worcester last time confirmed he will surely always be more comfortable going this way round.  Already proven in a big field, he might make AP McCoy pay for choosing another horse from the yard.

I suspect we will see better from Superior Quality in this sort of contest given his high cruising speed, but occasional failing of not finding much off the bridle.  Twice a winner in novice hurdle company in 2012/13, he took his chance in the Albert Bartlett at Cheltenham although he proved short of that level.  He made a promising start to his chasing career when second to Beeves on good ground at Carlisle.  He disappointed on his next two starts, perhaps because of slower ground.  However he showed the ability was still there when second at Ascot in April over this 2m6f trip.  He was travelling well when falling at Fakenham last time and has been given time to freshen up for this.  The good ground will suit and I can see him picking his way through the field for a late run as the front-runners tire.


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 Astonishing win would be no surprise


Following The Ribblesdale form can prove the right Criteria


Wins for Bronze Angel (8-1) and Glorious Protector (11-4) gave us a small profit last Saturday.

A busy days racing this Saturday spearheaded by the Irish Oaks at The Curragh, while Market Rasen provides some high-class jumping fare, something which is a rarity at this time of year.

The feature contest has lost a little lustre with the defection of star filly Taghrooda although this arguably makes the race much more intriguing from a punting perspective. In my humble view there is no outstanding contender in the race and often in Irish Classics when there is no very strong candidate, the best strategy is to look to the Aidan O Brien team who invariably ends up winning the race with something. My pick is Bracelet, who curiously appears to be the third string judged on jockeys bookings. Nonetheless, the daughter of Montjeu appears the solid middle-distance filly among the Ballydoyle team and her Ascot success in the Ribblesdale was the perfect stepping stone to this contest. Well touted after winning at Leopardstown in the spring, she showed her prowess over 12 furlongs at Ascot and still lightly raced there is every reason to believe she can make further strides forward today.

If fancying Bracelet in the Oaks, then logical reasoning would imply that I ought to be fancying Criteria in the fillies listed contest at Newmarket. A solid third in the Ascot race, Criteria appeals as an honest trier who should we well capable of beating a field of mainly out of form older fillies especially in receipt of twelve pounds.

Over at Newbury the most interesting race is the concluding two-mile handicap. Having failed to develop last season in the manner expected, Number One London has been reinvented as a stayer this year by Brian Meehan. A keen running type, it did not appear especially logical, but his emphatic win over the distance at Goodwood justified his trainers plan. A tilt at the Queen Alexandre proved a bridge too far last time but back against handicappers today he ought to run well. Indeed if learning to settle better he could go a long way in this division.

In the same race, Romeo Montague is worth a mention. A useful handicapper at a higher level in 2012, he has returned a few duck egg efforts since returning from a lengthy absence. I thought he travelled with definite purpose though in the Queen Alexandre last time indicating he could be on his way back. If making a further step forward today he has the class to be a player.

Market Rasen stages a fine National Hunt Card. Max Ward won in a taking manner at Aintree last time and with the possibility that he will be even better suited by a strongly run race, he could take plenty of stopping ng in the big two-mile handicap hurdle. While Purple Bay has been running with plenty of consistency and been given a chance at the weights with the deployment of the services of seven pound claimer Mikey Ennis.

Jonjo O’ Neil is always a good starting point in big handicap chases and the Jackdaws Castle handler holds strong claims in the featured Summer Plate. I will plump for the outsider of his contingent Lost Legend who holds a serious chance on the form of his Kempton win over Nearest The Pin a few months ago.


Newmarket 2.25: 2 pts win CRITERIA (3-1, General)

Newbury 5.00: 2 pts win NUMBER ONE LONDON (7-2, General); 1 pt ew ROMEO MONTAGUE (16-1,General)

Curragh 5.45: 1 pt ew BRACELET (9-1, Sporting Bet)

Market Rasen 2.55: 1.5 pts ew MAX WARD (14-1,General) ; 1 pt ew PURPLE BAY (14-2, General)

Market Rasen 3.30: 0.75 pts ew LOST LEGEND (20-1, General)

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 Following The Ribblesdale form can prove the right Criteria


Life’s a Beach at Leopardstown


An interesting card at Leopardstown this evening featuring the €60,000 Guaranteed Nasrullah Handicap.With none of the older brigade looking particularly attractively handicapped it might be best left to the sole three-year old contender Magnolia Beach, who is selected to make the most of the generous weight for age allowance.

I always say Ger Lyons’ horses start to fire once the ground is riding good to firm in the description and Magnolia Beach is possibly the one horse who could be a step ahead of the asserssor.His Dundalk form against Princess Pearlita and Pronce of All  sets a fair standard and there were more positives than negatives to be taken from his Ulster Derby runner-up effort behind Wexford Town who boosted the form subsequently on Derby weekend at The Curragh. That performance confirmed Magnolia’s stamina for this sort of distance and today’s more galloping circuit should also help bring about further improvement.

Leopardstown 8.30: 2 pts win MAGNOLIA BEACH (4-1, Paddy Power)

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 Lifes a Beach at Leopardstown