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Well, thankfully Champions Day at Ascot is now behind us. Sure, it was a great day’s racing, but I’ll be damned if the results just didn’t go our way. No real heartbreak, but it’s always a much harder game when the majority of the runners are in contention for a race. Take a look at the Cheltenham Festival and how hard it is to get many winners, because the fields are so high-quality. Anyway, only the one winner last week, which was the heavily backed Solow, but I’ll take it on the chin. I’m not like some other tipsters that will shy away from defeat, I’ll chalk it up to a bad day and move on. So Champions’ Day left us with a loss of -3.9 units. Besides, we’re still in profit to the tune of +5.48 units, after five weeks of free horse racing tips. And as I said last week, we’re in this for the long haul, so keep following!
Now, even though Champions’ Day has passed, we’re still focusing on the flat racing in Channel Four’s Saturday racing coverage. We have some quality racing from Newbury and Doncaster, but we also have two races from my favourite race course in the world, Cheltenham. Yes, three National Hunt races to whet our appetite for the impending ‘real’ start to the jumps season. So let’s get stuck into this week’s free horse racing tips for tomorrow’s Channel Four racing coverage.
I also want to point out that out friends at Bet365 will give you the best price on every horse race shown live on Channel Four if you back it from 10am on the day of the race. So, wait until 10am Saturday and get the best price, as they will match their competitors. But what’s even better is that if you back a winner at 4/1 or more at Bet365 on any of the Channel Four races, you get a free bet that matches your stake on the winner for the next Channel Four race. So, back a winner of the 2:00 at Doncaster for £50 and get another free £50 on the 2:10 from Cheltenham!
A Group 3 for two-year-old colts and geldings to start our day’s racing off? Not bad going, Newbury, I have to say. The Horris Hill Stakes look a competitive race on paper, with some real unexposed types going to post.
Zonderland obviously looks the quality horse in the field with a fourth in Group 3 company in his first start on turf, while Start Time looks an interesting runner from Godolphin. However, Royal Reserve won handily as Salisbury last time out, beating Mootaharer into second by a length. Mootaharer has since gone on to win pulling away at Newmarket last time out.
Start Time does look to be an improver, but I have questions on whether he’s going to be suited by a longer trip or with more ease in the ground. Basically, I think he’s more of a stayer. Zonderland, yes, the real threat, but there will be no value to be had, and I think Royal Reserve is going to prove to be a bit of value here.
This is a Lister Race for two-year-lds and, like the previous race, it’s a hot race, where we’ve got a few exposed horses trying to get a win over some really unexposed types.
The one I really like is Dhahmaan (NAP) for Marco Botti. We backed him last time out, where he finished a gallant second to Donjuan Trimpuhant in what was more a lung-opener than anything. He looked in good nick and the winner is certainly a classy sort. He should be better for the run after four months off, so he should put in a good showing.
It’s hard to make a case for the rest of the field, as it’s a big step up in class for some, although given the field, a few improvers wouldn’t be hard to find. Just stick with Marco Botti’s colt, as the booking of Frankie Dettori also catches the eye.
Not the most exciting way to get back to racing at Cheltenham, but we’ll take what we can get in the shape of this 2 mile handicap chase.
Next Sensation sets the standard with a course and distance win two races prior, winning the Grand Annual from Eastlake. Next Sensation is now weighted less favourably than the Grand Annual, though, and is now 3lbs worse off with Eastlake, after getting 2lbs last time out. A swing of 5lbs with a 4 length win should see Jono O’Neill’s Eastlake get his head in front. Both were pulled up last time out at Aintree, albeit in different races.
Dunraven Storm also has a course and distance win anda second in the Henvry VIII Chase at Sandown, but we’re going back almost a year here and he’s had jumping issues at the end of last season, before struggling with top weight in two handicaps already this season. He did run in the Arkle this year, so obviously connections think highly of him even though he’s now getting on in years.
Boondooma, a nice win last time out, but he looks more of a plodder, a stayer, a mudlark, whatever you want to call him. 2 miles at Cheltenham in what is going to be a fast and furious race just doesn’t seem to be the race for him. And Sew On Target, I’m not sure what to make of him. He’s had some good wins, and a nice reappearance, but he’s getting on a bit and is consistently unreliable.
On Grand Annual form, Turn Over Sivola (NB) is weighted to get the better of Next Sensation and Eastlake. Getting a stone from Next Sensation is huge, while getting 11lbs from Eastlake would also be more than enough to turn that form around.
Astracad would be a threat if the weights were more in his favour. He’s had a lung-opener, which he won last time out, although it was over 2 miles 3 furlongs, but the problem is looking at the Grand Annual, he finished well back, getting around a stone from the winner, and that’s all he’s getting again today. He’s a real Cheltenham veteran, though, and has won on this course in the past. But I just think there’s a few weighted better than he is.
Workbench holds Purple ‘n Gold on recent form, but, to be honest, for both of them, it’s bee a long, hard summer, and with some fresher runners in the field, they might just get picked off in, as I said,a fast and furious race. It’s also a bit of a step up for both of them, as well as Owen Na View, and there just doesn’t seem to be anything pointing to them getting the win here. The only thing they all have going for them is that they’ll be race ready.
Going Concern and De Faoithesdream should also find this a real step up in class against some good-looking sorts.
So, really, for me, it comes down to Eastlake and Turn Over Sivola, and with the weights as they are, we have to take Turn Over Sivola for the win here. Astracad also looks interesting, especially with a run under his belt, but all things level, Alan King’s charge looks the solid bet.
Back to the flat, and we’re off to Newbury for the St Simon Stakes. It’s a Group 3 with 9 runners going to post. It’s a nice middle-distance race over 1 mile 4 furlongs, so it could prove to be a real tactical affair.
Of course, Romsdal’s third in the King George V is excellent form, but he’s looked out of sorts his last two runs, finishing well beaten two races ago last time he was at Newbury. I think his season might just be done. Rawaki looks interesting, as does Koora, but there are a few question marks over both of them.
Perference does to the heavily campaigned Melodious whose fourth behind Journey in the Nayef Stakes has worked out very nicely, with Journey finishing a close second to Simple Verse in the Fillies and Mares Champion Stakes last weekend. Sure, she was a bit back, but it’s good form, and the three year-old fillies allowance should definitely help.
A Class 2 5 furlong dash – oh, the joy. I’m sure you all know how I feel about these races by now, especially with 18 runners. Steps sets the standard here, having Group 1 experience to his name, but there is a very, very interesting runner wearing No.2 – Easy Road. This is the five year-old’s first run in the UK, having been cleaning up in Scandinavia recently. There is very little to go off of, but the theory is that the handicapper can’t give a true handicap mark as he’s only ever run in Sweden and Norway. Yes, the strength and depth might not be all that, but getting 10lbs from the top weight should certainly help, especially if he’s a bolter.
Adam’s Ale also interests, although he looks heard to get in front, while Meadway has had a light year compared to most of the field, and might be worth an each-way flutter.
So, in theory, Steps should really be a cut above the field, but we’re going to take a chance on Easy Road and hope that the Scandinavian form translates well to Doncaster.
This 2m hurdle race looks a bit easier to sort out than the handicap chase.
Tea In Transvaal could be the one to beat after racking up four wins on the bounce this season, and is 7lbs better off with Stars Over The Sea, who was 14 lengths adrift of the filly in his last run. With Teofilo as her sire, Tea In Transvaal is bred for speed, so the trip is going to suit. The only real worry is that it is a classier race than she’s used to.
Lil Rockerfeller finished his hurdling campaign with two nice class 2 wins in March and April this year, before heading to the flat in May. He’s got speed to burn, so this is going to suit.
Karezak finished behind Tea In Transvaal last time out, but was giving her 15lbs and went down by less than a length, so obviously will be looking to turn the tables on the filly given that all she has now is the fillies’ allowance. He’s gone well in Group 1s and Group 2s in the past, although 11th in the Triumph Hurdle this year wasn’t spectacular. However, he did finish just over a length behind Hagram in the Triumph Trial in December ’14, giving the winner 3lbs which suggests he can go well at Cheltenham.
Speaking of Hagram, his third in the Triumph Hurdle sets a high standard. But he’s carrying 8lbs more than the main contenders, and 4lbs more than the interesting Fou Et Sage, who is making his British bow. The ground might now just be soft enough for Fou Et Sage, but watch for any market support to suggest otherwise.
Qualando winning the Fred Winter is obviously better form than that of Hagram, purely because it was a course and distance win. There’s a lot to like about that win, and is race ready, Qulando could be the one to beat.
It really is a tricky race to call, and you can make a case for most of the field. If we look purely at Cheltenham form, which is so important here, we’re looking at Qualando and Hagram, and you have to make the argument whether a third in the Triumph is better than Qualando’s Fred Winter win. Naturally, you want a horse than knows how to win the big races at Cheltenham, and with Hagram disappointing next time out at odds-on, we’ll be taking Qualando to replicate the win. Also keep an eye out for Karezak, who will go well after having a nice warm-up race earlier this month.
A 1m 2 furlong 14 runner handicap up next, the Bathwick Tyres Handicap to be precise. And this is all about David Livingston, who connections are very high on. He has some serious form under his belt, beating Telescope in the Rose of Lancaster in 2013, but lost his way a bit after going to Turkey and Dubai. If he can find that kind of form, he should easily blow away the field. Of course, it’s a question mark that doesn’t look great, does it? But this field really is weak compared, even, his his race a fortnight ago at York. If connections weren’t confident, they wouldn’t be bringing him back so soon after a bad defeat.
Passover looks like to have a fair shout, too, for Andrew Balding, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Passover in the mix come the finish. But there is one real classy sort and it’s David Livingston. If Roger Charlton knows what he’s doing, it could turn into a procession.
Another mid-distance handicap, which has 13 runners declared.
It’s not a particularly strong field going to post, and there are cases that can be made for a lot of them. However, Storm Force Ten stands out because of his solid hurdling form, as well as the fact he won last time out in what has been a bit of a light season. Connections will be warming him up for a campaign over hurdles, but he’s got 11lbs on the top weight, Wakea, and he’s just as good on paper as the supposed best horse in the race.
Argus will be dangerous off a feather weight, but we’ll go with the hurdler to start his National Hunt preparation with a win in a very open race.
A class 2 handicap chase to round off our taste of National Hunt action, and it’s another open race. Champion Court is off the top weight after three convincing wins on the bounce. However, the form hasn’t been that great. Yes, he’s beaten what’s been put in front of him, but it’s not been outstanding opposition, and the handicapper might just have his number, especially as he’s now 10 years old.
Theatrical Star has a nice second in Group 3 company two races previous, but he’s a real out-and-out stayer. If the ground was to turn, however, he would be in with a great shout. And it seems the opposite for Fox Appeal, whose best form has come over slightly shorter and may just find this a furlong or two too long – 3 miles 1 furlong is testing, especially at Cheltenham.
Silver Man’s second last time out looks OK, but his jumping leaves a lot to be desired. Cheltenham isn’t a place where you can make mistakes like he did, so unless he’s jumping better, it’s worthwhile avoiding him.
Azure Fly looks good on paper, winning his reappearance last time out and the trip will definitely suit. The only issue is that on his two starts at Cheltenham, he’s struggled, being pulled up last timer he was here. Should be in with a shout, but the poor Cheltenham form leads me elsewhere.
What’s Happening’s win last time out was at Cheltenham, which is a huge plus. The fact he won by 8 lengths also adds to his cause. It can be argued he might need a bit further, but he’s game and is getting a lot of weight from the more experienced sorts. He should be there come the finish.
It’s been a long summer for Black Benny, this could be one race too far. And it’s a bit of a step up in class for Big Casino, and give that he’s now 9 years old, it seems a bit too late give the strength and depth of the field. Perfect Candidate should also find this step up in class just a bit too much.
Bottom weight, Audacious Plan will love getting all this weight from the field, but again, it’s a big step up. Not that this should be of too much concern given that he’s gone well in decent company in the past, but his last run didn’t fill us with too much optimism
That leave us with Rolaco De Farges, who won this race last year carrying 1lb less than he is today. He’s sure to go well, as I’ve mentioned just how important course form is round Cheltenham. However, there is one that I prefer just slightly, and that is What’s Happening. It’s hard to split them on form, and with What’s Happening having a couple of years and a couple of pounds over Rolaco De Farges, we have to go with Tom George’s charge.
The last race of a long day is the Racing Post Trophy for two year-olds and it’s not the most wide open of races, with only two runners really standing out.
Can Deauville overturn the form with Foundation? Probably not, if I’m being honest. Can anything else spring out of the field? Well, Aiden O’Brien has almost half the field, so preference is obviously for Deauville, as he’s the classiest of his runners. Although Johannes Vermeer also looks a handy sort, but the booking of Joseph O’Brien speaks volumes.
Basically, it’s a shoot-out between Deauville and Foudnation for the Racing Post Trophy, and we’ll be taking Foundation to do the business thanks in no small part because of how how beat Deauville last time out, as it looked effortless, being eased down before the line.