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At Sports Betting Tips, you’ve probably noticed by now that we love our horse racing, and we’ve done some features on the big festivals, most recently the Ebor Festival at York, and the Cheltenham Festival in March featured extensive coverage, with analysis and history of the day’s feature race, as well as free tips for each day of racing. Well, it seems that you have enjoyed the horse racing coverage, so we’ve decided to try out a new feature where we’re going to take a look at the televised races on Channel 4 in the UK every Saturday.
Televised horse racing on a Saturday is a long-standing tradition in the UK, with the BBC Grandstand and Channel 4 being the mainstays of horse racing. Millions watch at home or in pubs and bookies every Saturday afternoon, cheering on their favourite horses, hockey and trainers. Yes, you can watch horse racing all day, every day on Racing UK or At The Races, but Channel 4 Racing is an institution. So what better way to start our horse racing coverage than by looking at the races that will be covered on Channel 4 this Saturday?
Tomorrow, September 19th, 2015, Channel 4 will be covering 7 races from Newbury and Ayr, with the Ayr Gold Cup being the feature race of the day. So let’s get to it and look at each of Channel 4’s televised races. We’ll also have our NAP of the day, denoted with (NAP) beside the selection. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s the one we think has the best chance of winning. We’ll also do a Next Best, denoted by (NB) beside its name, the one we think is our next best chance after our NAP.
The Dubai Duty Free Legacy Cup is the first race of the day, and it’s a Group 3 trial for the Arc. It’s run over 1m 3f and the going at Newbury is currently soft, so it’s going to be a real test. Sky Hunter is carrying a 5lbs penalty after his win at Meydan in March, giving him 9st 8lbs to carry, while the rest of the field will have 9lbs 3oz on their backs.
This race really hinges on whether Eagle Top takes his place in the field, or goes to Ayr instead. However, even though Sky Hunter is carrying a penalty, it’s purely because he’s a classy individual. He’s won at Newbury on soft ground before, while there are question marks over those at the head of the market, other than Eagle Top, on this kind of ground. The Corsican hasn’t gone on worse than good-to-soft, and although he should handle the softer ground, I don’t like taking one with a question mark over its head over one that is proven on this course and the ground. Ooty Hill won on soft in his first ever outing, and then followed that up with a second at this course on his seasonal reappearance. Yes, he’s lightly raced, but it’s a huge step up in class for him. However, his form line through Star of Seville is incredibly strong.
Basically, it Eagle Top runs, he should win, but I’d rather take my chances on Sky Hunter each-way as there’s no questioning his ability to handle the ground, the trip and the course.
The first race from Ayr is the First of Clyde Stakes, and is Group 3 for two-year-old fillies run over 6 furlongs. Right now, the going at Ayr is good, meaning it’s perfect conditions for this race. As it’s a non-handicap, all the fillies will be running with 9st on their back, with no penalties for any of the field.
What we’re looking for here is a lightly raced filly, with some Unilit having 12 runs already as a two year-old, Glenrowan Rose having 7 runs, Dutch Run and Whatdoineedthatfor having 6 runs. While there’s no doubt they’re still open to progression, the preference is always for lightly raced, classy youngsters in a race like this.
Lady Clair’s form from the Lowther looks interesting, as that form is undoubtedly solid and reads as some of the best two year-old form this year. However, Silhuette looks that type that is going to keep on improving. She beat Unilit by almost 2 lengths at Ripon last time out in her second run, after winning her first race at Carlisle. She seems to prefer a bit of give in the ground, so any rain would be of benefit, too. Priceless is of a similar vein, and, to be honest, it’s hard to split her from Silhuette, but her win at Haydock was a bit of a muddling race and although it might turn out to be solid, Silhuette just appeals slightly more.
The Dubai Duty Free Mill Reef Stakes is up next at Newbury, a Group 2 over 6 furlongs for two-year-olds, with yet another small field declared.
King Robert comes into the race with two wins from two starts, but this is a big step up for him from Class 2 races at Carlisle and Chester. We know where we stand with Log Out Island; he hasn’t won since his win first time out six races ago. He’s been racing at a high level, but he seems to have found his level right now, and he also might not appreciate the give in the ground as much as others. Raucous finishing third in the Gimcrack last time out looks solid form, and if he can get the run, he should be there or thereabouts. However, Ribchester (NAP) finished one place ahead of Raucous in the Gimcrack and looks set to go one better this time around. He’s the first string for Godolphin in this race, so James Doyle gets the nod, which is a positive. Salt Lake Sooty just isn’t good enough in this field. And although Whitman should be good enough at this level, he’s got at least two in the field that should go better.
Ribchester (NAP) with Raucous following him home looks the most likely scenario here.
This is the Ayr Silver Cup, the warm-up race to the day’s feature race, the Ayr Gold Cup. Like the main event of the day, we’ve got 25 runners over the 6 furlongs at Ayr. The Ayr Silver Cup is for horses that didn’t make the cut for the Ayr Gold Cup, but it’s still a high-quality field of sprinters, making this a difficult race to pin down.
Sifting through this field and narrowing it down is a difficult exercise, but it’s important to look at the trainers who are consistent at the course and especially this meeting. Dandy Nicholls is one to follow here and he has an interesting runner in the shape of Barnet Fair. He went well in the Ayr Gold Cup last year, so this step down in class should suit, as he’s 4lbs better off than this time last year. Nicholls will have him primed for this and at around 20/1, he appeals as a solid each-way chance in this race. Shared Equity looks handy on paper, but he seems difficult to get into the lead and stay there, and this isn’t the kind of race that suits the difficult types. George Bowen is undoubtedly the form horse of the race, but he’s going to be going off too short in such a competitive race, carrying a 5lb penalty to make him any kind of value. The play here is Barnet Fair each-way, which will hopefully give us some indication of any bias for the Ayr Gold Cup later on.
This is the Dubai Duty Free Handicap, with 18 runners currently declared for this 1m 2f race. This will be a real stamina test with the ground, so we’re going to have to make our selections according to that.
Field of Fame looks interesting, as he won last time out, and his 5lb penalty is cancelled out by his jockey, Edward Greatrex, claing 5lbs. However, the ground might just have gone against him, with his best efforts coming on better ground. Cymro also appeals, again with a 5lb penalty, but no claimer on-board. The problem with Cymro is that the form of his wins hasn’t exactly been stellar, having come in much weaker fields. The one that interests me is Amanda Perrett’s Burano who has course form on soft ground in October last year, winning the Bathwick Tyres Handicap. He’s not had a terrible season, but we’re still waiting on him to peak, and his price right now is huge at around 25/1. He’s a very solid each-way chance in this race, which is incredible wide open, with cases possible for several runners.
The Doonside Cup is a Listed Race run over 1m 2f and there are currently 13 runners declared.
This is another race at Ayr that is wide open, which connections of Eagle Top have declared him in. If he goes to post here rather than Newbury, he’s going to take some beating. However, it’s looking more likely that Eagle Top will be at Newbury rather than Ayr. If that’s the case, this race is being teed up for Mutakayyef (NB). Mondialiste’s win in the Wodobine Mile backs up the solid form of the Strensall Stakes in which Mutakayyef finished a very close second. William Haggas knows how to get his horses primed for the big races, and Paul Hanagan on-board is a nice booking. Top Notch Tonto finished 2 lengths further back in the Strensall Stakes and is actually carrying 4lbs more than Mutakayeff this time out, which bodes even better for our selection. Scottish looks to be the next best in the field, but still appears to have a bit to do at this level after disappointing in Deauville last time out. Exosphere is also interesting, but has to prove himself at this level. He’s got the right profile and the right trainer, but Mutakayeff just looked in great form on his seasonal reappearance and should only get better because of it.
The Ayr Gold Cup is a 25-runner handicap over 6 furlongs. It’s a high-class field of sprinters, and is the day’s main event.
The Ayr Gold Cup has been a bit of a benefit for Dandy Nicholls and Kevin Ryan over the past decade or so, with the two trainers amassing 8 winners out of the last 13. It’s also a race where we have to look at the trends, as current form is tricky to pin down, with many runners being prepped specifically for this race.
Basically, the trends don’t favour older horses. We’re looking for horses between the age of 4 and 6, as no 3 year-old or 7 year-old-plus runner has won the race in the past decade, which does narrow the field down, but not drastically. It’s also important to note when the last time out was for any potential selection. We’re looking for a horse that has run in the past 35 days and in a Class 3 race or better. This seems to be the ideal prep for an Ayr Silver Cup winner. Another interesting stat is that it’s preferred if the selection had no more than 1 handicap win so far this season – it seems it’s important to stay ahead of the handicapper and not give too much away. They should also be used to winning in large fields, preferably 14 or more runners. Again, the experience helps. Finally, a winner should be carrying a weight between 8st 13lbs and 9st 6lbs.
There is no real draw bias on the 6 furlongs at Ayr, and having looked at today (Friday’s) results over the 6 furlong course (specifically the Bronze Cup), there’s no real bias in this weekend’s conditions.
So where does that leave us? Well, Kevin Ryan’s hand isn’t as strong as you would have thought. Neither runner fits our profile. Don’t Touch comes in undefeated, but unfortunately doesn’t fit the bill at all – youth and a winning run isn’t on his side here. One that does seem to fit the bill closely, however, is Golden Steps each-way. In such a trappy race, he manages to tick to look good on paper and his win last time out at Goodwood was decent. He’s just outside the cut-off for time since last run, but we’ll forgive him that and get stuck into the value on offer.
That’s it for our first week of previewing the televised horse racing on Channel 4 in the UK. Hopefully we’ve got some big winners, and if all goes to plan, we’ll have another preview of Saturday’s racing next Friday.