Put your money for something with Dire Straits

Plenty of races to choose from across the three British meetings with seven races from the two jumping fixtures and an eight race card on the All Weather at Wolverhampton. My best bet comes from Dunstall Park, but I also have a selection from Ffos Las. Delgany Demon was a winner for us on Sunday (advised 15-8).

Ffos Las 2.40: Knockanrawley

A real good old-fashioned chasing type, Knockanrawley looks an out and out stayer and should relish the 3m1f trip on soft going at Ffos Las this afternoon.

A winner of a point in Ireland over 3m on soft in May 2013, he had a successful season over hurdles last term. Significantly his first three runs all came at Towcester, one of the stiffest tracks in the country where he won first time out over 2m5f, before following up with two second places under a penalty. He found a step up in class and a switch to a sharper track at Haydock all against him next time, but finished the season well with a win over 3m here battling to a narrow success over Ashes House.

He was fitted with first time cheekpieces on that occasion and the headgear has been retained as he has embarked on a chasing career that has started with promise. He found another stiff track to his liking at Hexham as he won in May, but found things happening just too fast around Perth next time. After a break he returned in a hot novice handicap at Newbury last month and performed with credit when third to Ned Stark over 2m6f. An extra 3f will be in his favour, as will a slight drop in class, whilst the soft ground, added to by further rain yesterday, will suit.

Wolverhampton 3.40: Dire Straits

This is perhaps the most interesting race on the Wolverhampton card, featuring no less than four last time out winners in a nine runner field. Of those it is perhaps Dire Straits that offers the most potential for further improvement.

He showed little in his early races having only made his racecourse debut in June. Nevertheless he was well punted for his handicap and All Weather debut at Kempton in August, only for him to disappoint in sixth. As with Knockanrawley, connections decided to reach for the cheekpieces after that and they have certainly had the desired effect since.

He was a close second at Lingfield next time, but after disappointing back on turf at Sandown, he returned to sand for two fine efforts on the Tapeta here. He stayed on well into second over 12f last month behind Royal Trooper, but well backed again last time, he responded with a convincing 2l win over Captain Swift. He certainly looks to have matured in those last two runs, looking a more straight forward ride and this step up to 14f should suit given his running style in recent races.

Recommended bets:

Ffos Las 2.40: Knockanrawley – 3-1 Bet365

Wolverhampton 3.40: Dire Straits – 5-1 general

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 Put your money for something with Dire Straits

Neil King

Demon possesses the stamina for Southwell test

After Saturday’s paucity of runners over jumps we happily have healthier sized fields at all of todays fixtures and I have a couple of selections, one from each of the two meetings in Britain, including another of the Pertemps qualifiers for the final at the Cheltenham Festival. We enjoyed a solid Saturday at Cheltenham with Hargam (advised 11/8) and Blaklion (SP 9/4) winning.

Southwell 1.45: Delgany Demon

There is nothing to get too excited about on the Southwell card, but the 3m novice hurdle will take a bit of winning and the Neil King trained Delgany Demon could prove strongest.

He improved with every race in bumpers, twice racing at Towcester, suggesting already that stamina was going to prove his strong point. Third on good going on the first of those efforts, he excelled himself over Christmas by winning by 5l on heavy ground, where he was really able to come good up the final hill. Arguably his best run came immediately before that where he got to within 1l of the useful Mountain King at Warwick.

He had just the one run over hurdles last season and was quite highly tried in a 2m6f novice won by Champagne West at Ascot, although he did finish well beaten. However the fact he missed the next ten months suggested either an injury problem, or that King felt the horse needed more time. The trainer has been knocking in the winners with regularity this autumn from his new training base and this horse showed promise back at Towcester when third over 2m3f last time. Whilst Southwell is a much sharper track, this step up to 3m should be greatly in his favour and he can continue the strong form of the yard today.

Carlisle 2.25: One For Harry

Nicky Richards is enjoying a welcome resurgence this season and One For Harry is one of those progressive horses helping to rebuild his profile. His one weakness is his jumping which let him down in a major handicap at Haydock last time, but there are good reasons for thinking he can overcome that problem today.

Perhaps his best ever jumping performance came when making virtually all here over 2m4f last month where he came 9l clear of Phoenix Returns without too much effort from jockey Brian Harding. This stiff track and heavy ground means they will need to go steady over this 3m and therefore he will get more time to organise him over the hurdles than at Haydock on his last start.

On that occasion he was still right in the mix when falling four out in the Fixed Brush hurdle won by Aubusson. The ground was slightly quicker and the sharp track also found him out. He should have no problem with the 3m having been only narrowly defeated at Uttoxeter last December over the trip and there is no doubt he is much improved since then.

Recommended bets:

Southwell 1.45: Delgany Demon – 15-8 general

Carlisle 2.25: One For Harry – 11-2 general

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 Demon possesses the stamina for Southwell test

walsh and martin

Time to Tango at Navan

I am just taking an interest in the one race today, the 2 and 1/2 Mile Tara Handicap Hurdle at Navan. Dara Tango looks a likely player in this. A promising novice a couple of seasons ago, he appears to have resumed in good heart following a lengthy absence from racing. I was pleased with his effort at Haydock last time where he travelled sweetly for a long way before just running out of stamina against some of the best UK staying hurdlers including the consistent Big Easy. Dropped back 1/2 mile in distance today, I expect Ruby Walsh to ghost him around quietly conserving energy through the race before hopefully producing him to win his race between the final two flights.

A possible danger could be Valmy Baie. This horse had decent form on soft ground last year and shaped as a one to note for this season when finishing in mid division behind Deep Trouble at Punchestown.

He was extremely well punted for his seasonal debut at Down Royal indicating confidence in the horse but performed poorly on the day. It may be too soon to write him off and is worthy of consideration again.

Navan 1.30: 2 pts ew DARA TANGO (6-1, Ladbrokes) ; 0.75 pts ew VALMY BAIE (14-1, General)

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 Time to Tango at Navan

Evan Williams

Go to battle with Barrakilla at Cheltenham

Not a great days racing for a Saturday but we have a fascinating feature event all the same, The £100,000 Guaranteed Caspian Caviar Gold Cup.

My main in hope in the race is the lightly raced Barakilla who strikes me as potentially the best handicapped horse in the line-up. His trainer Evan Williams (pictured) has brought the horse along steadily in novice grade thus far with his two lengths defeat of the useful Persian Snow at Warwick last year his signatory performance. After a lengthy break, the son of Milan shaped nicely on his comeback in a hot Sandown handicap and the fluency of his movement and fencing there augers well for his prospects today. With a few trail blazers in the race, things could be set up for a closer and I also like this fella’s good stout pedigree which indicate he should not be found wanting up the final hill.


I always like a bigger priced alternative in these types of races and actually found it hard to choose between Ericht and Easter Meteor. I have gone for Ericht in the end-up as he performed the better of the duo in the recent Paddy Power. Nicky Henderson’s charge is quite feasibly handicapped over fences and is certainly good enough to have a say in proceedings especially encountering his favoured quicker ground. He failed to last home on soft in the Paddy Power ( some commentators exaggerated the affect of his penultimate fence error) and his stamina for the final hill is the main worry. Otherwise, you can argue a solid case for him though and crucially he has plenty of solid course form. I would recommend putting up a lay in running however.

Rock On Ruby is still a useful tool on his day and could be good enough to record another win in the closing Relkeel Hurdle . It is not often he has the luxury of competing off level weights off what appear lesser opponents and if anywhere near the form he showed at Aintree last April he ought to go very close.

Solar Deity was a useful performer on Tapeta at the Meydan Carnival and with the benefit of a recent run under his belt, he should go well at Wolverhampton tonight.

Meanwhile over at Hong Kong we have a fine card tomorrow morning. Prix Del Arc runner-up Flintshire appears to have conditions in his favour and should be hard to beat in the Hong Kong Vase while Empoli is a sporting alternative in the same race. The German raider displayed a return to form last time out in his native land and has a squeak if reproducing the form displayed on Meydan World Cup night behind Gentledonna.

Cheltenham 2.00: 2 pts win BARAKILLA (9-2, General) ; 1.5 pt win ERICHT (10-1, General) – 4 pts lay ERICHT AT 6/4 (2.5) In-Running, Betfair/Betdaq)

Cheltenham 3.45: 2 pts win ROCK ON RUBY (13-8, bet 365)

Wolves 7.45: 1 pt win SOLAR DEITY (7-2, General)

Sha Tin 6.00 am Sunday: 3 pts win FLINSHIRE (15-8 PPower) ; 1 pt ew EMPOLI (25-1, P Power)

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 Go to battle with Barrakilla at Cheltenham

Nigel Twiston Davies

Blak looks a bright prospect

We don’t have the greatest of cards today at Cheltenham due to a distinct lack of runners in some of the races, but we still have much greater competition than at the remaining two jumps fixtures so I am sticking with Prestbury Park for today’s selections.

Cheltenham 12.15: Hargam

Having so narrowly been denied a debut win in a graded race here at the last meeting, Hargam can gain speedy compensation with a win in this lower level contest that opens the card at Cheltenham.

With some of his likely dangers tempted by the bigger prize at Doncaster, the way has been opened for Hargam who travelled sweetly on his debut last month and looked the likeliest winner over the last, only for the more experienced Golden Doyen to swoop late on.

The 3yo was a useful performer on the flat for Alain de Royer-Dupre earlier in the year and a win over 12f at Longchamp suggests he has the stamina for this trip over hurdles. He was placed in a listed race over 9f at Maisons-Laffitte on his final start in France, but was outpaced over that distance and with that first jumping run under his belt he should know more today.

Cheltenham 1.25: Bold Henry

It is fair to say that Bold Henry won the 2m handicap chase at the last meeting here in spite of, rather than because of his jumping. However he was still impressive ultimately and hopefully some more schooling will have ironed out those inaccuracies because he remains potentially very well handicapped today.

He won that day after being given a patient ride by Richard Johnson, showing plenty of strength and speed to come through up the hill. Similar tactics could pay off today given that Sew On Target, Kie and Fair Dilemma are all natural pacesetters likely to set this up for a closer.

Bold Henry’s win last month was a real triumph for trainer Philip Hobbs as he had only managed to see the track once in the previous two years. He had shown plenty of promise before injury struck and he clearly retains all his old ability. He is marginally preferred to the younger Solar Impulse who has been hit with a hefty rise in the weights despite losing at Newbury last time.

Cheltenham 2.00: Caid Du Berlais

Although still only 5yo, Caid Du Berlais is already developing a real affinity for Cheltenham and after two fine efforts in defeat at the past two Festivals, he hit the jackpot with a thrilling win in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last month. He won that race with a devastating late burst on the Old Course so there is every reason to think he will be just as well suited by this stiffer New Course track.

He had already raced six times over hurdles in France as a 3yo before joining Paul Nicholls where he began with a narrow second place in a Grade 1 at Chepstow. He then went on to chase home Flaxen Flare in the Fred Winter at the Festival. Last season was a real roller-coaster which started with a second to subsequent Champion Hurdler Jezki in Ireland before winning his chasing debut in a moderate race at Exeter. Well beaten at Doncaster next time, Nicholls decided to return him to hurdling for the remainder of the season. He further showed his aptitude for competitive big money handicaps when 3rd in the Fred Winter at the Festival before getting caught close home when looking sure to win at the Grand National meeting at Aintree.

He was well beaten when sent across for the Galway Plate in the summer, but was nevertheless punted quite heavily ante-post for the Paddy Power. Heavy overnight rain appeared to diminish his chance, but despite the trainer’s pessimism he launched a dramatic burst to take Johns Spirit on the line. A 5lb rise may not be enough to stop him today.

Cheltenham 2.35: Blaklion

Despite having to concede weight all round as a previous Grade 2 winner, Blaklion shows plenty of heart and that could be enough to see off his rivals in a race that looks a trifle weak for the grade.

Experienced at racing over 3m in Irish points where he improved with each run to win at the fourth attempt, he then enjoyed a 100% record in bumpers on joining Nigel Twiston-Davies last season, being especially impressive when scoring in tiring ground at Ffos Las which allowed his stamina to kick in.

He was sent to the Perth September meeting which Twiston-Davies uses to send most of his top novices for experience and he duly landed short odds over 2m4f on his hurdling debut, although not without a scare or two before getting up close home. He stepped up markedly on that when winning a Grade 2 at Chepstow, outbattling Vicente in the closing stages. He found Parlour Games too quick for him in a slowly run race here last month, but he was staying on up the hill well enough with Port Melon behind him and he can confirm the placings on the same terms today, especially with an extra 3f looking sure to suit.

Recommended bets:

Cheltenham 12.15: Hargam – 11-8 general

Cheltenham 1.25: Bold Henry – 11-4 Paddy Power

Cheltenham 2.00: Caid Du Berlais – 7-2 general

Cheltenham 2.35: Blaklion – 13-8 Stan James



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 Blak looks a bright prospect