There are eight meetings across the UK and Ireland today so plenty of racing to get stuck into. My focus is mainly on Sandown where we see the final day of the UK National Hunt season after a good day of flat racing there yesterday. I’m going to take a look back at yesterday’s racing with some points to note, before moving on to selections from Sandown (4 bets in total) and elsewhere (another 3 bets), along with a few horses to note and keep an eye on.
Looking Back on Friday’s Action
In the Gordon Richards Stakes, Crystal Ocean looked to run up to a much better level than he did in the same race last year, so if he comes on for the run as he did last season and improves for a step up in trip, he should be a real group one horse this year, having come agonisingly close to winning one last season. Knight To Behold ran up to his best form in 2nd, so it’s possible that the key to his unpredictable profile is that he runs well when fresh, and when able to dominate in a small field. Oisin Murphy gave him what appeared to be the ideal ride as he can be exuberant and there doesn’t seem to be much point in trying to restrain him. He lost nothing in defeat and I’ll be interested in him the next time that he runs after a break if likely to get the run of the race up front.
Bangkok was a very good winner of the Classic Trial. He was a bit warm before the race and he did run keen – it took a bit of effort from De Sousa to keep him back but he ultimately was just as effective under more patient tactics as he was when ridden more prominently at Doncaster. Technician might be seen as an unlucky loser and he did encounter plenty of trouble in running but I doubt that he would have had the turn of foot to match the winner over this trip. That said, he was coming close at the line and came into this race off the back of a win over a mile and a half – a step back up to that trip should see him to best effect next time, although I doubt very much that he’ll go unnoticed in the betting.
The form from Bangkok’s maiden win at Doncaster last month is working out really well, with his win yesterday adding to wins next time out for Telecaster (2nd that day) and Dubai Instinct (4th). Telecaster in particular won with considerable ease on his next outing, staying on really well over 1m 2f at Windsor and he could be one to keep an eye on. Noble Music (3rd in the Doncaster race) will also be interesting to watch – he was 9 lengths behind Telecaster in 2nd, but over 2 lengths ahead of Dubai Instinct in 4th who was also an impressive next time out winner. Two horses run today which finished down the field in that race – Soft Summer Rain (13th, runs in the 1:30 at Haydock) and Just You Wait (6th, runs in the 5:00 at Leicester).
Beat The Bank was the biggest bet I’ve put up in a while and it came through – the winner’s form in fields of 11 or less now reads 11111511, with the 5th placed finish just 2 lengths behind the winner in the Sussex Stakes. His form in bigger fields is 100060, so that looks like it’s the key to his form and it could be something that makes us a bit more money throughout the season.
Already Advised for Today
The two bets already advised for today are 1pt win on Step Back at 8/1 in the 3:35 at Sandown and 0.5pt e/w (1/4 odds 2 places) on Vosne Romanee at 66/1 in the 3:00 at Sandown. Previews of those races are in a separate post.
1:50 – Novices Handicap Hurdle – Class 2 – 2m
It’s easy to see the case for Getaway Trump and he could be the one to side with today. However, I’d rather look for something at a nicer price in a field this big. Dream Grand Du Val was very promising at Fontwell and Kelso early this year and it’s easy to forgive his disappointing run at Sandown last time out based on the ground. He’s back on proper good ground today and that could see him back to good effect. Humble Hero might turn out to be running off a very nice mark considering the fact that he was a smart type on the flat and that he was 3 lengths behind Bright Forecast on his first start over hurdles in December – Bright Forecast is now rated 149. He showed a really good attitude at Newbury last time and 126 might still be lenient. Scarlet Dragon is another one of interest, having run too keenly last time out. It’s very possible that this large field and strong pace is just what he needs. This looks like a really competitive heat and all three of the aforementioned contenders should be content on fast ground, so it’s one that I’m going to leave alone.
2:25 – Oaksey Chase – Grade 2 – 2m 6½f
With the absence of Cyrname and Janika, this is a competitive renewal and Definitly Red and Black Corton are currently battling it out for favouritism at 7/2, followed by Charbel at between 4/1 and 11/2. Personally I’m against Black Corton at the prices.
Charbel looked very impressive when winning the Peterborough Chase at Huntingdon in December, although it should be noted that the form from that race hasn’t worked out particularly well, with the horses that finished 2nd, 3rd and 4th failing to make the frame from 8 total subsequent starts. Charbel’s own subsequent performances haven’t been too reassuring either, although he probably did too much early on in his next two starts which caused him to fade at the business end of the race. More patient tactics were employed at Cheltenham and didn’t seem to work any better, although he did come back from that race cut and it will be interesting to see whether they try holding him up again here. He’s not really a horse who tends to find much when it comes to this end of the season, with form of 1455F3FP in March and April – just one win (in a bumper) and 7 unplaced efforts.
Preference is for Definitly Red, who never got the chance to run his race in the Gold Cup, brought down by Invitation Only at the tenth fence. During the winter he picked up a brace of graded wins in the Charlie Hall Chase and the Many Clouds Chase – although, as is the case with Charbel, the form hasn’t worked out too well from either race, with no subsequent winners from either of these four-runner contests. The main discussion ahead of the race with regard to Definitly Red’s claims is likely to be the ground – he has won 10 times and placed another 6 from 19 starts on soft or worse, whereas he has won 4 times from 10 starts on good to soft or better.
There are a few other interesting points, however; his form in fields of 11 or less is 11121112211311311U112 (14 wins and 5 places from 21 starts), remarkably consistent compared to 7P2FUP6B in fields of 12 or more. Another key note is his form in the first half of the season (12 wins and 6 places from 20 starts from October to February, 2 wins from 9 in March and April). He’s likely to get his preferred small field today and I’m not sure that the time of year will be a major concern, as his form in March/April in fields of 11 or less is 11U.
Honourable mentions go to Gold Present, who was running well at Ayr when he fell and has good form when back out within 30 days (1152F19) – it will be interesting to see whether he runs another good race after a short break today – and San Benedeto whose form from February to June reads 11111132317 (7th was in the Topham this year). He’s a real good ground horse (7 wins from 18 on proper good ground or better, 3 wins from 20 on good to soft or worse). The Topham run can be excused on the basis of the testing conditions and the only question mark is whether he’ll stay the trip today (although it wouldn’t be a huge surprise based on his win at Newbury over 2m4f in March).
Definitly Red 1pt win 4/1 (Paddy Power, Betfair)
San Benedeto 0.5pt win 9/1 (general)
3:00 – Celebration Chase – Grade 1 – 2m
This one has already been previewed, with Vosne Romanee the each-way selection at 66/1 (1/4 odds, 2 places, 0.5pt e/w).
3:35 – Bet365 Gold Cup – Grade 3 – 3m 5f
Again, the race has been previewed already and Step Back was the 1pt win bet at 8/1. I will be watching out to see whether Flying Angel can run a big race, as he tends to run well each spring and hasn’t disgraced himself on either start this spring – he’s not one that I’d consider backing, though.
2:20 Ripon – Crownthorpe was 5th in the Irish Lincoln at Naas from stall 12, in a race where the top 4 came from stalls 3, 4, 6 and 5. There’s a definite low bias over a mile at Naas so that run was creditable to say the least. The soft ground that day won’t have been a hindrance but it’s not a necessity for Crownthorpe, who has won on good ground in the past. He ran on well in the Lincoln and caught the eye, covering a considerable amount of ground in the closing stages of the race. The English handicapper has him on a mark of 85 (1 pound lower than the mark he ran off in Naas) which is his last winning mark, in a handicap one year ago over this course and distance. It’s possible that he would prefer a cut in the ground but he looks like a very nice prospect to me.
Crownthorpe 1pt win 5/1 (general)
2:40 Haydock – Spirit Of Lund had one of the unluckiest runs imaginable at Musselburgh last time. He was slow away to begin with, came from a mile back, had to switch and was checked more than once before not finding any space as they approached the line in what could only be described as a rough finish. He was staying on strongly and shaped as if the extra furlong today should see him to better effect, and he has only been put up a pound. He could make a mockery of his mark today and I was surprised to see him put up at 15/2 and 7/1 considering the amount of notebooks he must have entered following the Musselburgh run.
Spirit Of Lund 0.5pt e/w 15/2 (Unibet, 7/1 general, ¼ odds 4 places)
5:30 Wolverhampton – Dotted Swiss ran well over 6f at Wolverhampton two starts ago but couldn’t find anything towards the finish. This prompted connections to drop her back to 5f next time out but I wouldn’t necessarily crab the Wolverhampton run in terms of the trip as she came up along the rail which wasn’t the ideal place to be. She ran creditably over the minimum trip at Lingfield last time from the widest draw, running on well into 4th, just a length behind the winner. She didn’t have the speed from the stalls to cut inside quickly and so was caught 3-wide turning the first bend. She was held up at the back of the field and ran on like a horse looking for a step back up to 6f.
Dotted Swiss 1pt win 11/2 (Bet365)
Ones to Watch
2:45 Leicester – this isn’t a race that I want to have a bet in but it is an interesting contest from a number of perspectives – Laugh A Minute steps up in trip to 7f which could bring about improvement from a horse who has been a bit underwhelming at times, as does Eqtidaar who won the Commonwealth Cup last year but was down the field in both subsequent starts. Hey Gaman didn’t manage to win last year but he came very close on a number of occasions including being beaten by just a neck in the French 2000 Guineas and he should run well fresh. A nice race to watch.
3:30 Ripon – Yabass won over 1m4f at this track this time last year and shaped like a horse that would want a step up in trip. However, he hasn’t looked like much of a stayer on his subsequent starts. He was given a tough mark after being tried in a group 2 (went up from 88 to 98) but he’s back on 92 now and could be of more interest having been gelded.
4:20 Haydock – just another side note on a horse to keep an eye on. Sands Chorus ran very well to finish 3rd of 18 at Newbury last time considering his poor record in large fields (0 wins from 18 in fields of 12 or more, 8 wins from 32 in fields of 11 or less). He doesn’t like getting caught up in the middle of a big field so on the occasions that he has shown good form in big fields he tends to be making the running – he led on his side when 2nd in the Cambridgeshire in 2017 and led at Newbury too, before switching to the centre of the track on the straight and eventually being passed by two horses. His rating has stayed the same after the Newbury run (78) and he was rated 92 when 2nd in that Cambridgeshire, so looks like one to keep an eye on. However, plenty of these tend to race prominently and it’s unlikely that he’ll have his own way up front from stall 9 of 16, so he’s just one that I want to watch today.
5:25 Haydock – I put up Gabrials Kaka each-way at 20/1 two starts ago and he ended up finishing just a neck outside the places. This was off the back of an eye catching run and it wasn’t the first time that he looked unlucky on the all-weather (his mark has fallen by 14lb in his six all-weather starts since his last turf start). His last win came in Chester last summer, at which point his mark had fallen by 13lb in seven starts. It’s just possible that he still has a big day in him off a freefalling mark, and I have to admit to being tempted by the 16/1 on offer this evening, but not quite tempted enough. Still, if he runs a good race in defeat or is unlucky again he’ll be interesting to watch, and if he wins without carrying my money I’ll be delighted for him – he’s a real veteran and a constant presence in the big one mile handicaps for years.