Treat yourself to Feast at Southwell

A typical low grade start to the new working week on Monday with three modest meetings in Britain. I am concentrating on the jumping card at Southwell for both of today’s selections. We had a winner with Bertenbar (sp 3-1) on Sunday.

Southwell 2.50: Tarabela

Evergreen mare Tarabela shows no signs of slowing down at the age of twelve and this stamina laden performer can plough through the Southwell mud to land a seventh career win today.

Although she does not race too often each year, she has still managed an impressive four wins from her nine starts since the beginning of 2013. All those wins were gained over hurdles where her mark has increased from 88 to a prohibitive 117. However she had already won at Towcester over fences on heavy ground and her chase rating of 96 looks very workable.

She had two modest runs over fences before Christmas, although her fourth to Smiles for Miles at Chepstow was no disgrace. However any thoughts she was deteriorating were banished when she kept on strongly to chase home Paddy the Oscar at Lingfield last month on bottomless ground over 3m. Off the same rating today she may handle the soft ground best and can be relied upon to keep galloping right to the finish of this staying chase.

Southwell 4.20: Feast of Fire

In what looks sure to be a war of attrition in testing ground and a strong pace likely, hold up performer Feast of Fire can last out longest to get home in front.

He usually races at Wetherby, a similar flat, left-handed track to Southwell, a venue at which he won his first race last March over 2m4f. However he has often run at 3m and beyond and produced his seasons best performance at 3m back at Wetherby in December when third to Quel Elite on soft ground.

Previously he had largely been kept to top of the ground conditions when trained by Jonjo O’Neill but he seems versatile regarding the going now. His last two runs have been in class 3 company, both times getting outpaced over shorter trips before staying on, so this this drop back to class 4 plus return to 3m can see him in a better light. He is likely to be suited by the way the race is run with both Pyrshan and High Ron liking to make the running, whilst Feast of Fire is a confirmed hold up horse.

Recommended bets:

Southwell 2.50: Tarabela – 4-1 BetVictor, Coral

Southwell 4.20: Feast of Fire – 11-2 Skybet

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 Treat yourself to Feast at Southwell

Venetia Williams

Take the Mick is today’s joker

A modest day’s jumping action to look forward to on Sunday with low grade racing the order of the day. I have two selections from the card at Huntingdon covering the two chases on the card.

Huntingdon 2.30: Bertenbar

Despite conceding several years in age to all his opponents the 11yo Bertenbar looks the stand out horse for this modest 2m4f chase having made a more than satisfactory racecourse return over course and distance last month.

Having only had 22 career runs he does not have too many miles on the clock and from his lowly mark of 88 he proved he remains competitive when second in a similar level contest after two years off the track. He travelled like the best horse for a long way until getting tired and should be all the sharper today having had four weeks recovery time.

That race came on soft ground but in general his best form is on drier going so the slightly faster conditions should be in his favour today.

Huntingdon 3.30: Take the Mick

A decent front-running chaser on his day, Take the Mick can utilise this small field to his advantage to dominate the opposition from the outset here.

Whilst he is a thorough stayer, his best form is generally on flat tracks and he has run with regularity at Ludlow – a course with similarities to Huntingdon – the highlight being a 21l win on heavy ground there last season.

Allowed his own way at Warwick in January he again had the race won from a long way out, eventually pulling 14l clear of Goodtoknow who has franked the form since. Rather like last season, trainer Venetia Williams felt obliged to turn him out again quickly under a penalty at Towcester, but as with last season he failed to reproduce the same level of form so soon afterwards. However he did battle on bravely into second behind Newton Thistle and having had four weeks plus to get refreshed he should be sharper today.

Recommended bets:

Huntingdon 2.30: Bertenbar – 11-4 general

Huntingdon 3.30: Take the Mick – 9-2 Stan James

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 Take the Mick is today’s joker


Easter to come early at Newbury

Although Cheltenham draws ever closer we have plenty of good racing action to look forward to at the jumps meetings today with Newbury and Doncaster in particular having some competitive cards. The chases in particular look of interest with Newbury’s feature race looking made for a recent David Pipe recruit who has had to do his racing on unfavourable soft ground until now. No Deal was a winner in the previous column on Monday (advised 9-4).

Newbury 2.15: Golden Chieftain

Not the easiest horse to predict, Golden Chieftain has paid for a runaway 10l win at the 2013 Cheltenham Festival, leaving himself badly handicapped ever since. However he is back on a favourable mark now, 3lbs lower than for that great day at Cheltenham and more comfortable on a left-handed track he can take advantage today.

Slightly drier ground than he has been running on recently will help as well, whilst he handles all types of going, good-to-soft is definitely his favoured surface. He travelled well for a long way at Exeter last time before fading, however he has invariably struggled going right-handed in higher grade races and he should find this track more to his liking.

Still a relative youngster at ten for a veterans race, he tends to run well at this time of the year, having won in March every season between 2011 and 2013 and his best run last year came when fifth at the Aintree Grand National meeting. 13lbs lower today, this contest offers him a fine opportunity of recovering his form with conditions in his favour.

Doncaster 2.35: A Doll in Milan

A mare who looks to be crying out for 3m, A Doll In Milan gets a first opportunity under rules to race at the distance at Doncaster today.

Second in her only point in Ireland at the trip last spring, she only started over hurdles with Nigel Twiston Davies as recently as November when winning a mares only novice over 2m by 11l. Very impressive on the day, it was more the soft ground which brought out her stamina, rather than the short distance that meant she excelled. She was outpaced in a similar grade race to today at Newbury over 2m next time.

However stepped up to 2m4f for an ordinary mares novice at Wetherby next time, she was ridden very forcefully by James Reveley, making all the running at a decent pace to ensure her stamina was made use of – again she won by a wide margin. I am not quite sure what went wrong in the Welsh Champion Hurdle last time at Ffos Las – perhaps the bottomless ground was too much for her, but she was pulled up some way out. This race looks more her level – it is a listed mares only prize, but does not look strong for the grade and I fancy the further step up to 3m is just what she needs, so provided she copes with the drier ground she could take a lot of passing once more.

Newbury 3.25: Easter Meteor

Transferred from Emma Lavelle to David Pipe in the summer, the move has yet to have the desired effect as Easter Meteor has yet to earn any meaningful prize money in three attempts for the new yard. However kept fresh for an assault on the Paddy Power at Cheltenham, it meant he missed out on running on his favoured good ground in the autumn, so we probably have not had the chance to see him at his best as yet.

Unfortunately the ground was very soft on Paddy Power day so it was no surprise to see him pulled up in that race. He did run a little better on good-to-soft at the next meeting at Cheltenham, racing in second until tiring up the hill over 2m5f, but the ground again was too slow for him at the same track last month.

He is better judged on a second place on similar ground to today over course and distance last season (from a 3lb higher mark) and he would have gone close but for falling two out in the Paddy Power itself last season when it was run on good ground. All his best form has come on a sound surface and the going looked to be drying out nicely on the chase course on yesterday’s card. If first time cheekpieces have a galvanising effect he could be nicely weighted at a venue where he has been placed on all three previous starts.

Doncaster 3.45: Streams of Whiskey

Tom Scudamore takes a rare mount for Nicky Richards in the days feature, the Grimthorpe Chase on Streams of Whiskey and the 8yo can continue the resurgence of the Cumbrian based yard this season.

His record over fences is rather patchy – two wins from seven starts but also four non completions including two falls. However those falls were novicey ones earlier in his career and he is normally a sound enough leaper, especially on his favoured good ground. That was the case when causing an 18/1 shock in a similarly competitive race at Haydock last spring, leaving his winter form well behind.

He made a disappointing reappearance on softish ground at Ayr back in October, but showed he retains his ability when a good second over hurdles a month later here. Kept fresh for a spring campaign on drier ground, he remains feasibly treated off 130 and this 3m2f trip should be ideal for him.

Recommended bets:

Newbury 2.15: Golden Chieftain (each-way) – 14-1 Bet365, Ladbrokes

Doncaster 2.35: A Doll in Milan – 3-1 general

Newbury 3.25: Easter Meteor (each-way) – 11-1 general

Doncaster 3.45: Streams of Whiskey (each-way) – 8-1 general


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 Easter to come early at Newbury

William Knight

Could the Aussie Reign at Meydan

Rocky Creek (8-1) got us back on the winning trail at Kempton last Saturday. A sporting selection for an interest at Meydan today,  coming in the concluding ten furlong handicap.

Aussie Reigns has displayed precious little in two Dubai outings since the turn of the year but he ought to benefit from dropping back to ten furlongs this afternoon and it is plausible to anticipate a much improved performance. William Knight’s gelding is knocking about for a while now but he is a useful enough operator on his day and some of his better efforts over the past two seasons give him a shout in what is not an overly strong handicap. He ran quite pleasingly behind Sheikhzayedroad at last years Carnival and actually finished in front of today’s Race Favourite Tha’ir on that occasion. Although failing to get his snout in front, he went on to run with reasonable credit in some good handicaps at last years Carnival and also last Summer in the UK including one effort in Group Company where he was only two lengths adrift of Pethers Moon. Having shaped like a non stayer over 14 furlongs three weeks ago, ten furlongs today should be much more suitable and he might surprise them.

Meydan 6.15: 1 pt ew AUSSIE REIGNS (14-1, Sky Bet/ P Power)

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 Could the Aussie Reign at Meydan

Lucinda Russell

Cards to fall right for Deal

With Plumpton under threat from the weather I have focussed on the other jumping fixture at Ayr for Monday so both my selections come from the Scottish track.

Ayr 4.20: Circus Star

Notable in the past couple of seasons for his front-running exploits, there are few more genuine horses around than Circus Star and he can use that tenacity to take him to victory again at Ayr this afternoon.

He joined John Dixon’s small team at the start of last season and since then, apart from taking two runs to get fully fit has been consistency personified. They found this keen racer was best when allowed his head and he won consecutive races at Hexham and Wetherby by making all in December of that year.

He continued to run well in 2014, making the frame in all bar one of his six races without quite winning again. That included a fine second at this track in November and a return to Ayr paid dividends when beating Kumbeshwar by 5l. He takes the same opponent on today and can confirm form despite 6lbs worse terms given his reliability whereas that rival is totally unpredictable regarding what sort of performance he puts in.

Ayr 4.50: No Deal

Incredibly lightly raced for a 9yo, No Deal has clearly had his problems but there was enough in his run over an inadequate trip on his return recently to suggest he retains ability and with the cobwebs blown away and upped in trip he should put up a strong challenge here.

He won his first point in Ireland and looked set to follow up next time until falling five out. He was then narrowly defeated in a bumper at Tipperary before joining his current handler Lucinda Russell. He started with an emphatic 6l win in a Carlisle bumper and was immediately stepped up to 3m here for his hurdling debut where he made all on heavy ground.

Unfortunately it was then two years to the day before we saw him again for his chasing debut under rules. As usual he made the running in a 2m novice event at Newcastle, but soon weakened turning for home.  He was fully entitled to get tired there, but on all evidence he needs further than 2m and can race over an extra 4f and soft ground today. A mark of 110 may seriously under-estimate his ability and whilst he may never achieve his full potential due to his injury problems, he could still be good enough here.

Recommended bets:

Ayr 4.20: Circus Star – 11-4 Bet365

Ayr 4.50: No Deal – 9-4 general

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 Cards to fall right for Deal