Darren Fleming is back at the Horse Racing Tavern with his preview and tips for Day Two of the Chester May Meeting!
There is Group 3 action at Chester on Thursday in the Stella Artois Huxley Stakes at 2.15 and it looks a tricky race to fathom! The four market leaders are separated by only 4 pounds on official ratings.
Gabrial, the current 11/4 favourite has won over a mile at listed level, and had Highland Knight, another of today’s runners in behind. That is decent form and entitles him to be in mix of things here on the Roodee. Highland Knight would have a great chance based on his run behind Trumpet Major at Sandown, however that was at a mile and he has an extra 2 furlongs to tackle here. Danadana won 3 decent handicaps at around this distance and is worthy of this step up in grade; Luca Cumani has had a few winners recently and I am sure this one will be thereabouts too. Bonfire’s win in the Dante last May ensured that he was second favourite for the Derby. He went on to finish behind easy winner Camelot but did not give his true running at Epsom. He failed to compete with older rivals in the Eclipse and ran well enough over 1m 1f in a Group 3 at the end of the season. Bonfire’s comeback run this season over an inadequate trip will have put him right for this. Dirk Doughtywylie was a very game winner at the St Leger meeting at Doncaster last September. He ran creditably enough at Group 3 level a couple of weeks ago and while he is sure to win races this year, I am not sure it will be this one! Miblish has performed well a couple of times on the all weather but again looks not quite good enough at this level. Rewarding won a handicap at Newmarket a year ago and has put in a few decent efforts since, including a place at Royal Ascot in a Group 3.
As eluded to, this is a fairly open contest but the two I like are Danadana and Bonfire. I find it hard to split them, therefore from a betting angle I’m happy to have them both in a reverse forecast for a nice payout!
Recommended Bet - Bonfire and Danadana (REVERSE FORECAST).
The MBNA Chester Vase at 2.45 offers more Group 3 action later on Day 2. There are only 5 runners but it looks another interesting contest. The Derby value about Ruler Of The World has disappeared after he was put up at 33-1 by Pricewise on Tuesday; he is now just 20-1 for the big race at Epsom in June. The Aidan O’Brien charge is 7-4 (PaddyPower) to win this and with any unexposed horse from the Ballydoyle team, he could be absolutely anything! Havana Beat was a close 4th behind Windhoek in a valuable sales race at Newmarket. The winner followed up impressively at Listed level and that strict line of form suggests he may be competitive here.
Feel Like Dancing is another who comes into the ‘could be anything’ category having won a maiden at Newbury recently. With Gosden and Buick behind him, who knows what this Galileo/Darshaan cross could deliver over middle distances.
Richard Fahey won this last year and his horse Gabrial’s Kaka is a rare runner at the course for Dr Marwan Khokash (only joking sir!). He does not stand out as an obvious form choice though he did finish well clear of the 5th runner here, Mister Impatience when last seen at Epsom. Course form around Chester does count for something however; he seemed to like the bends when making light work of his maiden field here last September.
A small field of unexposed horses around the tight turns of Chester makes this a tough one to call, but 7-4 about Ruler Of The World may look a huge price 5 minutes after the race. I know it is not very original but he would get my vote as Aidan has won this race a couple of times recently.
Recommended Bet - Ruler Of The World (WIN @ 7/4 with Betfair)
Having looked through the rest of the card, I feel obliged to point out an interesting one in the 4.25 in the shape of Your Pal Tal for Tommy Stack and Kieren Fallon. He has been very prominent in his races so far and is well drawn in stall 1 which is perfect for Chester. He is a very interesting runner here having done the majority of his racing on the AW at Dundal and may just steal a nice lead coming into the home straight and with a bit of luck keep the others at bay. Your Pal Tal must surely be worth an each way bet and if you can find a bookie who will pay four places then even better!
Recommended Bet - Your Pal Tal (EACH-WAY @ 8/1 with BetVictor)
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Darren Fleming previews the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Ascot on Wednesday, and he fancies a value bet at 11/2 to take home the spoils!
The feature on Wednesday at Ascot is the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes over 2 miles.
The ante-post favourite is the Queen’s horse Estimate, who having captured the Queens Vase at Royal Ascot last summer went on to finish 3rd behind Henry Cecil’s Wild Coco at Group 3 level at Goodwood and Group 2 level in the Park Hill Stakes at Doncaster. With no Wild Coco to worry about this time, she looks sure to be involved in the finish at these weights, running off just 8-9.
Sir Graham Wade put together a sequence of impressive displays towards the end of last season with Kieren Fallon aboard and the two are reunited again here. He should be primed and ready after a run at Nottingham 3 weeks ago and may still have improvement in him, although others appear to be better treated on official ratings.
Steps to Freedom was competing with the best novices in the country over hurdles a year ago and was behind 2011 Dewhurst winner Parish Hall on his reappearance over 1m 2f at the Curragh. This extra distance looks sure to suit and if the going is not too soft, he must have a shout. The booking of Richard Hughes has to be a big positive.
Asker Tau won this 2 years ago and has performed with credit in a number of leading staying races in his time, but at the age of 8 and with just that one win since September 2009 he is reluctantly opposed. Caucus was a winner at Newmarket and has the dynamic duo of Buick and Gosden in his corner, however a little improvement is needed on what he has achieved so far to figure here.
Earth Amber finished in front of Sir Graham Wade and Handazan at Nottingham recently and having champion jumps trainer Nicky Henderson in his corner it would be foolish to rule her out entirely.
Buckland has been a credit to connections since winning off 70 at Kempton in February. His current mark is 94 – however some of the leading fancies are rated around 110 so there is a lot more improvement required to be competitive here. Tres Rock Danon is a little bit of an unknown quantity. He has been running in group races in France and on some of those runs he has an each way chance.
In summary, the focus should be on Steps to Freedom , Estimate and Caucus to fight out the finish and that is the order I expect them to finish in!
At the prices, I will be backing Steps to Freedom at 11-2. Fingers crossed that he gets us off to a flyer this season.
Ascot Sagaro Stakes - Steps to Freedom 11/2 Bet with Paddy Power
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Darren Fleming brings us five of his ante-post wagers for the up and coming Cheltenham Festival!
For those of you who want a small stakes wager with potentially nice rewards I will be looking to find a bet each day that costs no more than £5 so if you lose you won’t need to sell the family jewels or even cancel your RUK subscription but if the choices are successful you may have enough to pay for you to go to Cheltenham in 2014.
To start with, everyone likes a nice Lucky 15/31 so here is my Lucky 31 for the week:
Un Atout Supreme Tuesday 7-1
Cinder and Ashes Champion Hurdle Tuesday 12 -1
Edeymi Coral Cup Weds 12-1
Catch Me Pertemps Thursday 16-1
First Lieutenant Ryanair Thursday 9-2
At a unit stake of 16p the cost is £4.96
I’ve used Paddy Powers prices, and if these 5 win we are looking at well over £30,000 – good luck!
Hard to believe it is approaching 6 months since my last visit to Doncaster races, when Michael Barzelona and Encke jabbed their pin firmly into the Camelot bubble, writes Darren Fleming.
The weather and nature of the action will be very different on Saturday and generally the racing has a feel of the calm before the storm about it. To be fair to Doncaster whilst the equine talent is not top class the trainers and jockeys on show certainly are with Nicholls and Henderson having a number of fancied runners and Walsh and McCoy both have a decent chance of guiding home a few winners.
The feature is the 3M 2F Grimthorpe Chase with the weights headed by Calgary Bay. He has won at Doncaster before and the good ground seems to suit him so with McCoy in the saddle a good each way run looks assured.
Join Together is favourite for the Walsh/Nicholls combo. He has been running against decent opposition and at this level deserves to be near the head of the market however with the Grand National as the target and available only at a shortish price I would be against him today however he could prove just too good for these off these weights.
Corkage and Ikorodu Road both won at this meeting off lower marks on this day last year and whilst both can run well I think they will be looking for places at best. These two were up against Court by Surprise and Night in Milan here in December where it was Court by Surprise who just came out on top and my thoughts are that the same horse will prevail in their little rematch once again.
Of the others Mr Moss and Billie Magern have place claims too but the sight of McCoy and Calgary Bay is too tempting for me and I have already had an EW dabble at 9-1 with Bet 365.
The better ground may well be the key for Toubab and he looks the one to beat in the 2.20. He will be short at around 7-4 after 2 disappointing runs but if the ground is the key 7-4 may look generous at about 2.30.
One of my finest recent wins was picking the 66-1 winner of the Cesarewitch in 2012 when Fallon and Aaim To Prosper delivered the goods so he will be getting his own little cheer from me in the pre parade ring prior to the 3.30. Whilst he may win this too, he is up against some far more experienced performers here. Whilst I have no strong feeling on the race at the moment I may have a small each way bet on the consistent Barafundle.
I may just try a Beaujolais in the bumper before heading off to find the venue for thenow customary Festival Preview. This year with Tom Lee, Richard Hart of William Hill and Racing UK’s Niall Hannity amongst the expected panelists, and Simon Mapletoft as usual taking on chairing responsibilities.
Previous experience of this event suggests that only the big races will be covered and focus will be on market leaders but if Sky’s early evening offering of Sheff Wed and Notts Forest doesn’t float your boat then there are worse ways of spending an early Saturday evening in Doncaster.
If that is not enough the good people of Doncaster Racecourse have also promise live musical entertainment from Mellow Rebellion.
I know you are busy people so as part of the service offered by Horseracingtavern I have had a look at their website (www.mellowrebellion.co.uk) for you. It seems that Charlie, Tom, Ben and Nick are taking a break from their regular spot at the Talbot Inn in Mansfield to be with us tomorrow.
Audio clips on the site include a cover of Rihanna’s ‘We found Love’ and Oli Murs timeless classic ‘Dance with me Tonight’ as well as some original songs which they probably won’t share with us!
After all of this excitement we are all certainly going to be Shiny Happy People by the time we leave the course, which according to the website is part of their repertoire too!
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So Cheltenham is less than three weeks away and no doubt most of you already have a fair idea of which horses you are ready to lump on and which you want to oppose particularly in the major races. I suspect that by now you have probably earmarked a few cleverly campaigned handicappers who look ready to exploit a lenient mark come mid March too.
A recent addition to the festival build up has been the various preview nights around the UK and Ireland where a host of racings leading experts (and a fair few of the racing’s imitation experts) turn up at various venues around the country and give their opinions on the feature races to those anyone willing to listen.
The feedback I have seen for these evenings tends to suggest that people either see them as
1 – A way to get up close and personal to racings elite whilst gleaning valuable information that other people just won’t have access to.
2 – Little more than a PR exercise where racing’s leading trainers trot out the same old lines about their horses whilst keeping the important information to those inside the stable and others involved in the game tip the market leaders without any insight whatsoever.
I have turned up to a few of these recently and I suspect that the truth about these events probably lies somewhere in the middle of these two extreme views.
Without doubt the most enjoyable one I have attended is held at Knaresborough Cricket club a few miles from Harrogate with all proceeds of the evening supporting the junior crickets there.
Despite a round trip of over 50 miles from @Papafleming towers I have been going for 3 or 4 years now. The club is quite small so creates an intimate atmosphere. The interesting and informative panel are never short of an opinion so it can turn out to be a long night so you can be sure that value for money is never an issue!
It features a preview of the major races held on each day along with charity bet and of course the inevitable lay of the meeting.
In recent years James Bridson who organises the event has kindly taken a note of your email address and provided a summary of all the panel’s choices for you to review at your leisure a couple of days after the event which helps of you have forgotten your pen.
If work commitments from my day job allow, I will be there this year so if you fancy an evening of debate and discussions with a panel who clearly spend much of their life going through the form book and watching reruns of races rather than just acquiring an opinion from the spotlight column the racing post then come along.
Alternatively if you just want to the chance to meet a hard working member of the Horse Racing Tavern team in the flesh then what better way to do it!
Knaresborough Cricket Club, Aspin Lane, Knaresborough, HG5 8EP
• Michael Shinners – head odds compiler from Skybet
• Jim McGrath – Channel 4 racing analyst and Ex Timeform
• Nick Robson – The Fox, Racing +
• Paul Jones – Author – Cheltenham Festival Betting Guide
TICKETS ARE PRICED AT £8 PER PERSON
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PLEASE CONTACT JAMES BRIDSON ON 07887416074 OR firstname.lastname@example.org
A few weeks into 2013, the BBC no longer cover racing and after a few big signings it’s up to Channel 4 to deliver the sport to a nation.
In recent years the BBC only tended to cover the major races so their coverage was not particularly aimed at racing fans, instead, mass appeal was the target. For fans, time wasted on fashion and celebrity spotting blighted Royal Ascot coverage whilst the Grand National coverage barely changed for years. For all I know an identical two hour chunk of coverage was shown each and every year with the focus on previous winners and characters followed by clips of potential ‘fairytale’ winners who could take their place in the race’s history alongside national legends such as Aldiniti and Red Rum.
Channel 4 coverage on the other hand has tended to try to cater more for the racing enthusiast with form discussion, paddock picks and market movers being the order of the day. As the only terrestrial provider of coverage going forward, Channel 4 are now tasked with the job of trying to cater for both the regular fan and the big race viewer within the same programme, and it is important not to underestimate the difficulty of that task, particularly on the very biggest of race days.
Earlier this week I sat and rewatched the majority of Channel 4’s World Hurdle Day coverage from last year and it reminded me that many of the old team had been together on the show for a while, and as a result, the team knew each other well and performed like a team. Each of the old squad (like them or not) had a particular role to play and generally delivered what was expected of them. After some generally low key racing for the first few weeks of the month it is probably a little unfair to compare the old team and the new team and the temptation is to turn it into a bit of a popularity contest, but early impressions are that the likes of Francome and Down are most likely to be missed.
Only the current Channel 4 executives could claim that the 2013 offering is better than the 2012 vintage but just pointing out faults serves no real purpose, instead the coverage needs time to develop and there are some positives to be taken. There is no doubt that the coverage needs a decent lead presenter and Clare Balding filled that role very well at Cheltenham recently as she had done for the BBC so often over the last 12 months. I feel her style is certainly more suited to the general audience and I suspect that she is not most racing fans cup of tea. At the moment I like her and she is one of the better ‘signings’ the channel has made.
Nick Luck and Graham Cunningham have provided much of the studio analysis for the new look team, and whilst at times the Sky Sports style use of gadgets seemed a little pointless, Nick Luck is a steady Morning Line presenter and reserve anchor, whilst Cunningham adds a little more insight than a number of other Channel 4 racing employees. I have a feeling he will grow into the role very well in the coming weeks and months.
Mick Fitzgerald is a steady team member too and is a useful foil to Balding. With such a close connection to the Henderson team it is easy for him to be a little blinkered in his offerings and a tendency to generally favour the market leader is likely to make him an easy target for the real racing enthusiast, but his friendly style should hit a chord with big race viewers. Perhaps he should be saved for co-anchor duties on bigger days and leaving the smaller meetings to others, we will see.
I have seen Rishi Persad pop up on coverage of a number of things over the years and have often thought what a nice bloke he appears to be! The initial problem is that I am not sure what he is going to bring to the coverage. He does not seem to have the knowledge to be a form expert but does not have the presentation talent to fill that role either. It will be interesting to see how Channel 4 use him but I suspect he will be just a filler for the smaller meetings.
Racing coverage has a number of issues but we will save those for another time. Instead let’s keep it simple – here are a few pointers on what in my view makes the coverage generally good or bad:
A Few Early Do’s and Don’ts…
- If you are going to cover a meeting, actually send the team to the right course! Already racing from Warwick and Musselburgh has been covered by a team based at a different track!
- Do get an early betting show up for the next race, including highlighting market moves during the day
- Do show us the horses in the pre parade ring
- Do provide some useful form analysis and thoughts on leading contenders and fancied outsiders
- Don’t interview celebrities just because they are there! (You can have a little interview if they are connected to a particular runner but only if it has a chance but it is a fundamentally a racing program not a chat show!
During the race
- Do show and name check all runners where possible as the race progresses.
- No lingering close up shots of the leaders especially as they jump fences or at the end of a race when the battle for places is still being fought!
- No fancy camera angles – if you want to show off use it in post race analysis.
After the race
- Do not, I repeat do not employ anyone (especially Emma Spencer/Alice Plunkett) to interview the jockey just after pulling up after victory – they never have anything of interest to say!! At this point I have to say that whilst interviews are seen as an inevitable part of the coverage they rarely offer any kind of insight and instead just have a trainer/owner/jockey telling us how much the victory is deserved for the owner/trainer/ jockey!
- If a ride/run has been good or bad then say so but don’t tell us that all winning rides are good rides and losing ones are generally not as good! Racing continues to be a closed shop and the thought if being critical of a fellow racing professional rarely enters the head of many broadcaster. I don’t want my pundits to be too critical every time a jockey gets beat, I just ask that they give us a bit more honesty!
In summary I strongly advise those in charge of Channel 4 racing to do as I did and watch last year’s coverage and compare it to the coverage from 2013 so far and ask themselves if the coverage has improved or got worse. I don’t mind them making mistakes with the people they employ and in some ways admire the idea of trying new things, the trick is to see if something new works and if it doesn’t get rid of it! Racing needs decent TV coverage with respected presenters who take the sport seriously but are able to appeal to a wider audience without turning racing into any other daytime entertainment show.
On a slightly different note with the festival on the horizon, it would be rude not to share a couple of early thoughts with you and the re-watch of last year’s World Hurdle Day reminded me of 2 things:
- Why I have backed Sir Des Champs for the Gold Cup. Another potential clash with Flemenstar looms and it could be a cracker. Hopefully SDS (and of course Flemenstar) can stay sound and do himself justice in the Gold Cup.
- That my best bet for Cheltenham 2012 was Catch Me who found only Cape Tribulation (who beat imperial Commander last time out) too good in the Pertemps Hurdle. Catch Me has had a similarly low key build up this term but when McCoy is up and the money is down in March I expect Catch Me to give me another good run this year. He is 25-1 at the moment and if he gets there I reckon he will be much shorter come March and he may even run off a mark a few pounds lower than last year. You have been warned!Papa Fleming
I am not proud of what I did. It was a moment of madness – well almost two hours to be honest. I have let myself, my wife and my children down…oh and my friends and family. I just hope that you can find it in your heart to forgive me, writes Darren Fleming.
You know I love racing and you may not be surprised to hear that I really don’t like Big Brother, so what is a man to do when I find that racings leading personality of the last 20 years has sunk to the same depraved depths that John McCririck sank just a few years ago.
So here goes.
Confession time. I watched almost the entire first episode of Celebrity Big Brother because Frankie Dettori had agreed to go into the house (I’m hanging my head in shame…).
For so many years Frankie Dettori, the Arsenal loving Italian has been a charming talismanic figurehead for the sport but after being tested positive for a banned substance on Sept 16th 2012, Dettori finds himself unable to ride competitively anywhere in the world until May 19 2013. Riding all 7 winners in one day as Ascot helped to raise his profile quite early in his career, and for a couple of years or so the role of a team captain on Question of Sport also helped to make him a familiar face across the UK, but those days seem but a distant memory now. I suspect if you ask anyone outside racing who is under the age of 30 to name Frankie from a picture, few would recognise him so an appearance in Big Brother will certainly boost his popularity amongst the public again.
Let us not forget that first and foremost, Frankie is a professional jockey and for me the sight of Dettori against the name of my horse in a Group contest was always a big positive.
I am sure everyone can point to big race rides where he got tactics wrong but then everyone gets it wrong sometimes, but be it stealing a race from the front or delivering a horse to win in the shadow of the post, Dettori has produced the goods on numerous big occasions. He has riden Arc winners, Ascot Gold Cup winners, numerous Group winners all over the globe and of course partnered Authorized to win the Derby too.
There are times I have watched Frankie riding horses on the racecourse and got the feeling that if he isn’t in with a chance to win, then not quite such an enthusiastic drive is received as it would from certain other riders. Frankie loves the limelight and is always in it win it, but on such occasions you wonder whether is heart and passion for the job is still there.
But on balance, Frankie is certainly one of the most consistent jockeys I have seen over the last two decades and his earnings and win ratio would tend to suggest he is doing something right too. Up until 2012 he had totted up £1million in UK win prize money in 18 of the previous 19 years (the only time he did not break the £1million barrier was in the year of his plane crash). His strike rate was normally around the 20% mark and often significantly better than this but since Mikael Barzalona and Silvestre De Souza joined the Godolphin operation, his 2012 stats are not as impressive with only a mere 51 winners from 398 rides, a strike rate of just under 13%. Interestingly, apart from the plane crash year this is Dettori’s lowest total since 1989.
So what now for Frankie Dettori?
A split with Godolphin and a long break from the track may well make life difficult for Dettori on his eventual return from the track. I am sure there will be plenty of trainers waiting to use the former champion when his ban finally ends, but, Frankie seemed to thrive in the big races and it remains to be seen just how many top trainers will put him on their most fancied runners in the very big races next summer. Having been at a few meetings over the last few years where Frankie was booked to ride one or two horses on a card but failed to reach the course, I have to wonder if his appetite to travel the length and breadth of the country in search of a winner or two is the same as some of the other top professionals.
From a personal point of view, I really hope the break from racing does Frankie good and that he comes back refreshed and ready for the new challenges ahead; he will have plenty of doubters that need to be proved wrong.
We cannot be sure what lies ahead for Frankie from February onwards, but unless he upsets a bunch of nobodies and the general public and is evicted early, for the majority of January he will be in a fake house somewhere in Hertfordshire with Claire from Steps, Toady from Neighbours and Neil Ruddock. If you could have predicted that when he guided Snow Fairy to victory in the Irish Champion Stakes back in September 2012, you are a better tipster than me and you would have been very rich had you have invested on that outcome with Betfair!
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When Synchronised and AP McCoy won the Lexus chase in 2011 I suspect few people truly believed that the same combination would follow up in the Gold Cup itself come March, writes Darren Fleming. The history books however confirm that Synchronised and AP proved their doubters wrong with a courageous triumph which of course turned to tragedy just a few weeks later in the Grand National.
So what pointers will the Lexus provide this year? A thrilling finish to the race saw Tidal Bay weave a path to victory just in front of the brave First Lieutenant and the classy Flemenstar a close third. Last year’s Jewson winner Sir Des Champs was doing his best work late on to finish within a couple of lengths of the winner too. If he turns up in the Gold Cup then Tidal Bay is a worthy each way contender at 12-1 (a similar price after Lexus victory to Synchronised after his win in 2011) but at the moment it is a fairly sizable if, as connections are considering a World Hurdle bid for which he quoted at around 8-1.
First Lieutenant’s form figures reflect the fact that he is a generally consistent yardstick but my thought is that he may well run well enough at Cheltenham I if he goes for the Gold Cup) without being quite good enough to win the big one. Flemenstar was travelling much the best of the four with a couple of fences left and looked the most likely winner between the last two. He was only overhauled near the finish and there has to be a doubt that he will be suited by the Gold Cup distance as much as some of his rivals and the Champion Chase may well be a target according to connections. Sir Des Champs on the other hand looks as though he wants the extra test which Cheltenham will offer although his jumping wasn’t totally convincing and this would may be a slight concern come the festival but having backed him prior to the Lexus I can see no real reason to desert him now.
Elsewhere over the festive period Long Run won his second King George at Kempton. The Gold Cup winner of 2011 continued to make jumping mistakes but his stamina saw him just get the better of Captain Chris on the Kempton run-in.
Despite the fact that certain correspondents suggested that SWC had given Long Run a great ride to take the race I am still struggling to see the greatness of the performance in the saddle. Even to my untrained eye SWC does not look like a professional jockey in the big races and is just one reason (maybe the main reason) I have to oppose him.
[** On 20 December 1997 I had my first and only riding lesson. I struggled to sit at the Leeds v Bolton game the same afternoon so never returned to the saddle as a result the thoughts are not from a riding expert but we are all entitled to an opinion and this is mine!]
Strangely the horse which probably did his reputation most good over the holidays was the ante-post favourite Bob’s Worth who shortened in the market despite staying at home. Silviniaco Conti looks to continue Paul Nicholls recent good record in the race and whilst I am not convinced he is a Denman or a Kauto Star, he certainly deserves respect. I will take some convincing that horses such as Captain Chris, Grand Crus and Riverside Theatre will be taking the major Prize. I would like to see Cue Card run well but could not back him so the only other outsider of interest would be The Giant Bolster who ran so well in the race last year and who may be of interest if he is larger than the current price of 25-1 nearer the race.
In summary the festive races left us with more questions than answers really. At the start of the season it seemed the race was primed for a young pretender to come and take the crown and in Bobs Worth and Sir Des Champs the race could be between two of last year’s leading novices. Both have excellent trainers to guide them to the festival and if both stay fit and healthy I can see Bobs Worth looking the likely winner with two to jump only for Sir Des Champs to wear him down up the hill to take the crown for Willie Mullins or at least that is what my wallet would like to happen!
Cheltenham Gold Cup Sir Des Champs 7/1 EW (Bet with Ladbrokes)
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Darren Fleming marks his year anniversary a the Horse Racing Tavern with a preview for a great looking at card at Navan on Sunday!
Now I know the significance of the Lismullen Hurdle 2011 is etched in the memory of most avid Horse Racing Tavern enthusiasts but to remind those of you who weren’t regulars at the Tavern on 13 November 2011, it was of course the first race that I previewed for the site.
Last year Voler La Vedette got the better of the Willie Mullins-trained fancy Mikael D’Haguenet (fancied by yours truly!) and since then the ultra consistent Colm Murphy mare went on to win her next two races and finished 2nd in her last 3 races, beaten by no less a duo than Big Bucks and Quevega in her final two appearances. She looks to win the race again and once more it is a Mullins-trained horse, this time in the shape of So Young who was last seen in the World Hurdle at Cheltenham, who offers the most obvious threat. These two are going to take some beating and both look like horses to keep an eye on once again this year whoever comes out on top on Sunday.
The other big race at Navan is the Fortria Chase and Big Zeb is another popular horse looking to repeat last year’s victory but it is the name of Peter Casey’s Flemenstar that leaps off the page. Since being beaten by Bog Warrior in the Beginners Chase on this Navan card last year, Flemenstar has won 5 races on the bounce including two Grade 1 victories. Throw in Realt Dubh who found the 3 miles at Down Royal last weekend beyond him and you have another race to savour.
Sizing Rio will be a popular choice and a likely favourite for the Grade 3 Novice Hurdle, with Cops and Robbers for last year’s winning combination of Noel Meade and Davy Russell likely to be the main threat. Noel Meade looks to have a decent chance in the Beginners Chase too with Dylan Ross who was very decent over hurdles and looks the one to beat on the evidence of his recent defeat at the hands of Janari.
No tips for you, but certainly a day’s racing to sit back and enjoy with a view to the season ahead.
Finally a big thank you to all who have read my thoughts on many races and various issues over the last year hope you enjoyed reading as much as I enjoyed researching and writing.
Follow Darren on Twitter @papafleming!
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With winter closing in and the flat season almost officially over, the weekend saw some decent jumps action and if this weekend is anything to go by then there are some things which are unlikely to change at all in the 2012/3 season.
Wetherby’s Charlie Hall chase was taken in impressive style by Silviniaco Conti for Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh. The duo completed a double after old favourite Tidal Bay got the better of Crack Away Jack and Paddy Brennon who looked like they may have stolen the race a couple out, but thanks to the majestic Walsh and the talented Tidal Bay it was a win for the Wiley family instead.
Nicholls also took the big race at Down Royal when Kauto Stone saw off the challenge of the Gigginstown pair First Lieutenant and Quito De La Roque. Earlier Une Artiste had won for Nicholls big rival Nicky Henderson who had 3 further winners at Ascot including the impressive Roberto Goldback under Barry Geraghty. The pair had earlier been successful in the beginners chase when Hadrian’s Approach got the better of The Druids Nephew in the dying strides. It was superb from Geraghty who looks sure to enjoy another fine season with Henderson.
All the signs are that Nicholls and Henderson will monopolise the big Saturday races for at least the next few weeks. So as they share the big prizes between them remember you have been warned!
Tony McCoy suffered a horrible fall on Friday and looked like he had prepared for action in the boxing ring rather than the parade ring. Most normal jockeys would have taken the day off but not AP and his desire to avoid watching his beloved but beleaguered Arsenal brought a handsome reward as the well supported My Tent Or Yours completed the hat trick for Henderson. The big handicap of the day went to Alan King, Wayne Hutchinson and Raya Star who formed part of a treble for owner Simon Munir. Congratulations to all.
With Cheltenham 2013 just around the corner the Jumps season is starting to click into gear and I for one can’t wait!