Stratford Hunter Chase night

5.35

Refusal – Usually makes the running, but was held up when making his hunter chase debut at Cartmel last week. Thought it was a very good ride to sit off the fast pace although he had to work hard to overtake Fair Exchange on the run in. They pulled 20L clear of the 3rd Asangy who re-opposes here. Given the amount of front runners here I would imagine he will sit of the pace again and try and pounce late. Is progressing nicely and has to go on the shortlist.

Steeles Terrace – Was really impressive at Fontwell last month when beating Hinxworth by 16L. That wasn’t a strong race though and this is certainly harder. I wouldn’t rule him out, but he has to find a bit more for me.

Ballinhow Bill – Hasn’t always led straight away, but is always up there with the pace and took a bit of a keen hold at Hexham in the Heart Of All England a month ago. When he took the lead at the 4th he set a really good pace and would have finished either 1st or 2nd had he not come to grief at 2 out as he had Greensalt looked to have the race between them. Easy to see Stratford playing to his strengths and looks a major player on his pointing exploits as well as the Hexham effort.

Bleu Et Or – Don’t really fancy him, but he is another who likes to make the running.

Caryto Des Brosses – Has had a really good season winning 4 on the bounce, but arguably his best run of the season was at Garthorpe last time when he was beaten a short head into 2nd by hunter chase winner Thetalkinghorse. It was a hell of a race that was run at an end-to-end gallop with Dale Peters’ mount just failing to get back up. Granted the winner was carrying 12lb penalty, but it was still a top in a really quick time. Doesn’t have to make the running, but is another who likes to be up there. Looks progressive and another one for the short list.

Essteepee – Interesting jockey booking, but does seem to have a bit to find. He was held up when winning last time, but usually makes the running.

Kit Barry – 2 3rds in Hunter Chases at Cheltenham and Worcester, but he has looked like a real stayer in both and easy to see him getting out paced round this sharp track over this shorter trip.

Lords Park Star – Won his Restricted at Garthorpe last time, but his winning time was 10 seconds slower than Caryto Des Brosses’ races time.

Royal Flush – Unusually broke his maiden tag in a Restricted at Hexham last month which was a fair step up on what he had done prior. I would be surprised if this wasn’t too tough for him.

Seamusjay – Won his Restricted by 15L at Chaddesley Corbett in February over 2m4f miles, but has pulled up on all 3 starts since and last time he just downed tools. He wares a first time tongue-tie which suggests he might be a breathing problem more than anything. Is another who is usually up with the pace. He is hard to want to back, but if it is a wind issue then if he did run well it wouldn’t be a total shock.

Pique Rock – Looked useful when winning her maiden on the first day of the season, but then things didn’t go to plan on her next two starts on soft ground. However she has been really impressive back to a faster surface when winning a Restricted and Intermediate last month. At Eyton she beat Asangy by 20L in a quick time. That effort obviously brings her form up to Refusal’s. She then won at Kingston Blount 12 days ago by 11L again in a quick time. Has been up there or led in her two wins last month, although was held up when winning her maiden. Looks another for the shortlist.

Summary – For me the shortlist contains Refusal, Steeles Terrace, Ballinahow Bill, Caryto Des Brosses and Pique Rock. The first three named have already proved themselves in hunter chases, whereas the latter two have been impressing in points recently. Ballinahow Bill is the main play as I have been really impressed with him this season, but I will also add Caryto Des Brosses (last run makes him a huge player in this) and Pique Rock (been clicking fast times lately)

Tips – Ballinahow Bill

Caryto Des Brosses

Pique Rock

6.05

Numbercruncher – Won this race last year in impressive style beating Exclusive Rights by 6L and then just got the better of the same rival at Fontwell last time after his jockey dropped the reins on the run-in. Had shown really good form earlier in the season when not having his ideal conditions, but good ground at this trip is perfect for him and he should make a bold bid to hold on to his crown.

Argot –  Won on his Hunter Chase debut at Leicester in the mud in March which was a decent effort. That came over today’s trip and fair to say he hasn’t been as good over further since although he did win a point over 3m last month. He then failed to stay again on Bank Holiday Monday at Chaddesley Corbett. Likely to make the running and wouldn’t want to rule him out.

Treat Yourself – I thought his 2nd at Kempton to Port Melon was a fair effort, but he was pretty bad at Fakenham last time and hard to see him wanting this short a trip.

Brave Jaq – Strangely didn’t go off hard in front last time at Fontwell, but still pulled hard and ended bursting a blood vessel when 27L behind Numbercruncher. Didn’t run too badly behind Monsieur Gibraltar at Cheltenham the time before and on that run he would have a chance in this, but a concern he bled last time.

Gowanauthat – Did win over 3m last time at Tabley, but doesn’t really stay that far. Will be up with the pace and this drop in trip will certainly suit. Often makes mistakes which is a concern, but were he to hit the frame it wouldn’t be a total surprise.

Magic Music Man – Went missing between September 2016 and April this year and he wasn’t great in his first two pointing starts. Reversed for with Gabrial The Great who had beaten him by over 30L at Tabley last month so was clearly running himself fit. The concern is he got himself outpaced over 2m4f that day and even though based on his previous rules form this trip ought to suit, you don’t want too find yourself too far back round here especially over this trip.

Right Of Reply – This horse has been taunting me all season since he ran a really eye-catching 4th behind Barrakilla at Bangor. That was his first run since a wind-op and to me it had worked. He finally got a run again at Towcester last month, but his owner took over in the saddle and he gave it a shocking ride. It was given no chance at any stage to get involved in the race. He was set to run at Huntingdon with Gina back on, but the race got abandoned. Gina is suspended, but her brother Jack now rides so that is a positive. It could be that he has just gone backwards, but I am certainly prepared to give him a chance in a race like this.

Robin Des People – Has won 4 of his last 5 with his only defeat coming in the Dunraven Bowl when he was 3rd behind Tinkers Hill Tommy. Did win over 2m4f earlier in the season, but I can’t help think that this short a trip is going to find him out.

Velvet Maker – Ran like there was an issue at Leicester as he dropped out very quickly before unseating. There was a bit more promise at Fontwell, but Numbercruncher and Exclusive Rights beat him by a comfortable 10L and I don’t fancy him to reverse the form.

Exclusive Rights – Has been 2nd at this meeting the last two years and as mentioned above ran a hell of a race at Fontwell last time. Strictly speaking at these weights she should reverse the form and although I don’t think it is as simple as that it is clear this track and this time of year really do suit her.

Summary – No idea why Velvet Maker has been made favourite for this. I don’t see him reversing form at all. I was really keen on Numbercruncher last time and I think he looks a really solid e/w bet again here. He has been in good form all season and I think he had a bit more in hand than the winning margin suggested at Fontwell. I have to back Right Of Reply who is 20/1 or 16/1 with Betfred/Totesport who are going the first 4 for e/w bets. He has the potential to make those odds look silly with the jockey change although I hope he can sit closer to the pace. I couldn’t put anyone off Exclusive Rights who clearly loves it round here, but I love the jockey booking of Alice Stevens on Gowanauthat and she was getting a decent spin out of him at Fontwell in February before his stamina gave out. She is a really promising jockey and he has the ability to go well here.

Tips – Numbercruncher e/w

Right Of Reply e/w

Gowanauthat e/w

6.40

Bally River Boy – Bit surprised they didn’t run him in the first race as that trip would have suited him much better than this one. Was all out to win at Fontwell, but was lucky the jockey on the 2nd wasn’t any good as Just Cause should have won. Likely to lead, but I can’t see him lasting out in this better race.

Eddies Miracle – The last two times we have had an Irish runner in the race they have both won and he actually beat 2016 winner Quiet Account back in January. Has only managed to win one of 7 hunter chases when winning at Down Royal back in March. That race was over a mile less than today’s trip. He was then sent off at just 16/1 in the Aintree Foxhunters and he was running pretty well until falling at halfway. He failed to win on his next 3 starts and gave the feeling that a trip shorter than 3m was his best one. However he then went and won over 4m on Sunday so clearly he can stay well. I am really not sure what to make of his chances especially as he has been very busy this season, but chances are he will go close.

Excitable Island – On the whole really consistent and is 3 from 3 this season including when getting the 4miler at Cheltenham last time in the stewards room. I think he was fortunate that Battle Dust lost his weight cloth that night and it wasn’t the strongest renewal of the race, but it was still a good effort and he clearly stays well. On that he has a place chance here, but the nagging doubt in my mind was the fact he ran terribly in this race 2 years ago. Maybe it was an off day, but I just wonder if he didn’t enjoy the track.

Fair Exchange – Ran his heart out at Cartmel last week when getting collared late on by Refusal. His win over Garde Ville on his previous run is looking useful now as well. Can run well, but I am not sure he will be quite up to this.

Garde Ville – Won 8 of his 13 point starts and has had a fantastic season. Showed how well he stays at Warwick last week when he outstayed Royalraise. For me everything went right that night and this will be very different kettle of fish. He won’t be able to drop himself out as far as he did at Warwick and his jockey can’t claim his 7lbs either which for me is a big negative against his chances.

High Hatton – Had a wind op after losing his form last season and ran in ground which didn’t suit on his first two starts this term. Has thrived in two runs last month though when winning easily in a couple of points. Was 3rd in this race in 2016 and every chance that he might be capable of running to that level again now he has his conditions. Might not be quite good enough to win, but he has place claims.

Master Baker – Won 9 points and made a winning hunter chase debut in the mud at Taunton back in April. Jumping wasn’t always the best when just denied by Herbert Park at Exeter and he may not have been given the best of rides. Herbert Park did little for the form at Fontwell although he clearly hated the quick ground. His last run was a match with The Wealerdealer and he easily saw him off. A bold run wouldn’t surprise although his jockey can’t use her 5lbs claim.

Pink Eyed Pedro – Had a very busy season having run 10 times already a;though he won his last 3 all last month. Needs to find a bit on the form of those wins and he has been well beaten in his two hunter chases, the last two renewals of the Dunraven Bowl. Is only 7 so there might be more to come, but on balance he looks one to take on.

Teeton Power – She didn’t see the trip out in the mares race at Cheltenham which wasn’t a surprise given how keen she was, but it was still a cracking effort. This race is 2 furlongs further and it might sound odd to say she has a better chance of staying, but I think she has a better chance of staying. Stratford isn’t a stiff test of stamina. If she can be just a little less keen as well that would also help her. It is possible her and Bally River Boy might end up in a pace battle which wouldn’t be ideal, but clearly she was still able to run well at Cheltenham despite been keen.

Summary – Don’t think its a overly strong edition of the John Corbet Cup. Excitable Island has place claims although the fact he ran so badly 2 years ago is a concern. Garde Ville is likely to find himself a fair way back and could struggle to get involved. Master Baker could go well although the Exeter run is a cause for concern and I am a little surprised he has been put in as favourite. I think Eddies Miracle has to be onside given the Irish record in this race and hard to think any of these would have been a 16/1 shot at Aintree. I think Teeton Power has a better chance of seeing the race out than she did at Cheltenham and has a great chance of being in the places at the very least. I am also taking a small chance on High Hatton who seems to have re-found his form after a wind op now he is on better ground. Given he was 3rd in this 2 years ago he has to be considered.

Tips – Eddies Miracle

Teeton Power e/w

High Hatton e/w

7.15

Arthur’s Secret – Has looked really good in points the last couple of seasons and has run out a very easy winner of both her hunter chase runs over course and distance and at Worcester last time out. The horse is a fairly simple ride which is a good job as the jockey isn’t very good. He is clearly a very good horse, but this is the strongest race he has been in by far and the big question is if the jockey will be up to it.

Knocklong – Been a winning machine since going pointing winning 12 out of 15 starts and both hunter chases as well. They came last season at Catterick and Southwell. The Catterick race was weak and with Galway Jack under performing the Southwell was was really weak. He has won 5 out of 7 this season, but the fact he has been odds on for all but one of those runs shows the level of form for me. The times on the whole were nothing special either. I wouldn’t be surprised if he won, but on form he has a bit to find compared to some of these.

Monsieur Gibraltar – Has had another superb season and it was rider fault rather than the horses fault that he failed to complete at Ascot. The lady jockey he has on here is in a different league to Harriet that is for sure. He was in a different league to his rivals at Cheltenham and although he won by less than a length at Fontwell he got the jockey out of trouble and was in a different league to them as well. This is tougher for sure, but he has the best jockey in the race on top and that could be the difference.

Golden Hoof – Won his last 4 races including his two this season both last month. Won by 30L at Trebudannon and then by 5L last weekend. This is a much better race and although it is hard to know fully how much ability he has still has, my feeling is it won’t be enough to win this.

Patricktom Boru – Has been 4th and 2nd in this race the last two years, but fair to say this race is stronger than either of those two running’s. Won a couple of times this season, but they weren’t strong races and was beaten last weekend when a 6/4 favourite.

Sedgemoor Express – Had 33 months off the track and I have a feeling he was purchased to give Victoria Pendleton experience, but he obviously had his issues. Ran OK behind Dabinett Moon at Kimble first time out and then bolted up in a bad race at Fakenham. Hard to know how much ability he retains and he will need to step up a fair bit on his two efforts this season.

Dabinett Moon – Loves it at this meeting having won the first race 3 years ago and this race last year. As mentioned above though this race is stronger than last year’s renewal and as much as I am sure she will run well I am just not sure she will be good enough to beat a couple of these.

Summary – You always have to respect Dabinett Moon at this meeting, but this looks stronger than last years race. Golden Hoof and Sedgemoor Express could be capable of running well, but have to prove how much ability they still have as their pointing efforts don’t tell us an awful lot. Knocklong has won plenty in the last couple of years, but in my view that form is below what Monsieur Gibraltar and Arthur’s Secret have achieved. Jockey’s could well make the difference here so the main bet is the former, but the latter might be good enough despite the jockey.

Tips – Monsieur Gibraltar 2pts

Arthur’s Secret

7.55

Ascokastar – Ran a hell of a race at Cheltenham and gave Barel Of Laughs backers a bit of a scare. That run came out of nowhere though and I’m not sure I would be wanting to back him to repeat it.

Balnaslow – Been a real credit to his connections as bar Punchestown last time he has run crackers in all of the big 4 hunter chases the last two years including winning at Punchestown last year and Aintree this. Derek O’Connor got off him in this last year and said it was a race too far, but he still ran a superb race to finish a 2L 2nd to Young Hurricane. He was great at Aintree this year and I was a little surprised to see him go to Punchestown because it was so close to Aintree this year and he ran no sort of race. Also Derek wasn’t on him which wouldn’t have helped. Not having a hard race at Punchestown might be beneficial for this and he has had fewer races coming into this this time around. Derek is back on and for me he is the one they all have to beat.

Chosen Dream – Same connections as Balnaslow, but his form is nowhere near as good and hard to see him winning.

Kilbree Kid – Was a fair 3rd to Creevytennant on his first run since October at Perth and then reversed form with Double Whammy at Kelso two weeks ago. Young Hurricane won that race before landing this so it can be done. Was well beaten over course and distance off 126 on the Saturday of this meeting last year and I just wonder if this track doesn’t suit him as he would have to step up a fair bit on that.

Mon Parrain – Ran really well at Cheltenham in the 4miler when 2nd, but hasn’t won all season and not hard to think he will find a few too good here.

Now Ben – Really good effort to win the John Corbet Cup last year and as much as I didn’t think the form was great at the time, the 2nd Tinkers Hill Tommy has boosted the form this season. Now Ben hasn’t had a great deal to do this season. He pulled up on his seasonal return and then won 3 of his other 4, but the form is nothing to talk about. He was 2nd to Thetalkinghorse on the other start, but the ground may have been too soft that day. I’m guessing this has been the target this season, but he needs to improve on the John Corbet win and given what he has done this season it is impossible to say if he has. I will add the time of his win last year was 4 seconds quicker than this race, but they went a much stronger pace in the John Corbet so I wouldn’t read too much into that.

Ourmanmassini – Interesting that Gordon Elliott has decided to bring him over, but hard to see him playing much of a part really. He did beat Gilgamboa in December, but was then pulled up behind him in February and was pulled up at Punchestown last time.

Spencer Moon – Useful horse who won a weak race at Fontwell last year and was then a 36L 4th to Bay Sly in the first race on the card last year. Won his last 4 in points including on Sunday, but that level of form is nowhere near what is required to win this.

Strumble Head – Loves Newton Abbot and has won two hunter chases their in the last couple of months. Both races fell into his lap really and this is much tougher. He does handle the track though and he stays well so can put up a decent showing, but would be a surprise winner.

Vivaldi Collonges – Has got blinkers on for the first time to try and wake him up after he wore cheekpieces on his last two starts. I can’t have him at all though. The win at Newbury isn’t good enough form and he was 43L behind Strumble Head at Newton Abbot last time. How on earth he is shorter than that one in the market I don’t know and I can’t see him winning.

Wonderful Charm – Got going way too late in this race last season and he got caught out by the sharpness of the track and the lack of pace for most of the race. Was finishing best of all though to finish 3rd. I would totally ignore his runs at Cheltenham and Aintree as the ground was totally against him. He had a nice little prep for this at Fontwell last time where he won hard held. There should be a stronger pace in this race this year which will help him, although the nagging doubt is that this track is on the sharp side for him.

Young Hurricane – Great performance to win this race last year, but I just wonder if he was helped by the fact it was one run too many Balnaslow, there was a slow pace and Wonderful Charm got outpaced at a crucial time, meant that he was able to win. His early season form was poor although the ground was soft enough at Cheltenham. He won his last two points last month which at least proved he is in better form. We often see horses who have run well at this meeting before do so again, but for me you are only backing him based on that win last year. Nothing he has done since warrants him being so short in the market and at the age of 12 the feeling is last year was his year.

Summary – For me the two best horses in the race are Balnaslow and Wonderful Charm. As we saw last year that doesn’t always mean they win, but Balnaslow has had a nice break since the Punchestown effort and with Derek back on top he must have a big chance of going one better. I am going to have a small saver on Wonderful Charm as the likely stronger pace should help him compared to last year. The others have been running at a lesser level and it is hard to know which might be able to step up to win this as Young Hurricane did last year should the main two fail to give their running. If pushed I would possible say Strumble Head or Now Ben. Both are at double figure prices and both have shown a liking to this track.

Tips – Balnaslow

Wonderful Charm

 

8.25

Creevytennnt – It could be argued that if he wins this it will be his best ever performance. He has top weight and is going the wrong way round. The weight issue I am not so fussed about as he has earned the right to give this much weight away and this isn’t like a normal handicap. He won off this mark at Perth last year. The form of his win at Perth has worked out well given the 2nd and 3rd filled the first two spots at Kelso and Kilbree Kid is 3rd in the betting for the feature. If this track was right-handed then it would be ideal for him as he jumps so well and it suits front runners. He hasn’t run this way round since the 2013 Foxhunter were he actually ran pretty well given he was jumping out to his right and the testing ground was against him. Maybe in his old age it won’t be such an issue. Maybe his class will allow him to get away with it anyway. I do think he will come on for the Perth run as he has tended to improve for his first run in recent years.

Persian Snow – Run terribly in both hunter chases this season and even a mark of 119 would appear to flatter him on the back of those two efforts.

Mantou – Managed to front run in a bad race at Sedgefield, but is highly unlikely to be able to do that here and he ran poorly at Cheltenham when he wasn’t able to make the running.

Royalraise – Didn’t stay against Garde Ville at Warwick last week and this will be a much more suitable trip. His other two efforts read fairly well in the context of this and he has a chance.

Forever My Friend – Has no chance of beating Crazy Jack on either Cheltenham or Ludlow runs, but was much better at Fontwell last time. Won at this meeting last year off a mark of 125 so a mark of 115 in theory gives him a solid chance. The problem for though is beating Can Mestret by 3/4L does not warrant a mark of 115 for me. Even so he is getting better with each run so if he did go close it wouldn’t surprise.

Curraigflemens – Won this race last year off a 7lbs lower mark and fair to say it looks a strong heat this time around. I also don’t think he is in the same form this year either. He didn’t run too badly at Fontwell last time behind Wonderful Charm over a trip that was always going to be too far, but they went pretty slow and that probably helped him stay involved for so long.

Sam Cavallaro – 2nd in this last year and running OK at Cheltenham and Southwell the last twice, but hard to see him being good enough to win this and no more than place claims for me.

Crazy Jack – Paddy’s went 16s early doors which was a silly price given how well he has run the last twice especially when 4th at Cheltenham last time. The concerns here are he often finds himself a long way back and it can be hard to make up ground here. The other is he is very hard to win with and has flattered to deceive in the past. Even so he doesn’t look too badly handicapped.

Summary – Creevytennant was put in too short to start with, but he is drifting out to a more attractive price now. I can’t be confident like I was at Perth as he might well jump out to his right, but if it isn’t too bad then I think he is good enough to get away with it. Cases can be made for Forever My Friend and Royalraise. The fancy prices about Crazy Jack have long gone, but if he repeats his run from Cheltenham then there is every chance he can hit the frame.

Creevtennant

Crazy Jack e/w

9.00

It seems hard to make a case for anything other than the 3 who ran at Aintree last month and Shalltoo. Shalltoo made his debut in a point bumper at Gathorpe and landed it in decent style with the front two pulling 12L of the rest. Interestingly Rapaport won the other division of the bumper but in a time 17 seconds slower. That is obviously huge and although the jockey change is pretty big on Rapaport it would suggest Shalltoo is the better horse. Given she has only had one start and Rapaport has had  now there is also more scope for improvement.

Rapaport was best of the 3 at Aintree, but I just wonder if Strike Hollow and Lily The Pink might be able to reverse the form. Lily The Pink helped made the running and ran well considering. It was also just her 2nd start. Strike Hollow was also having just his 2nd start and in addition it was his first run since January so there is every chance there could be more to come from him.

So preference for me is with Shalltoo and Strike Hollow is the saver.

Tips – Shalltoo

Strike Hollow

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Fontwell hunter chase night

5.00

Flights – Run in 14 points and has only finished out of the first 3 on one occasion. 6 of them have been 2nds though although it seems more that she keeps finding one too good rather than her being suspect in a finish. The comment no chance with the winner keeps appearing in her form. Was well backed when winning at Badbury Rings last month beating another well backed horse. Is the highest rated horse on point ratings in the race and form reads solid enough in this race. Will have no issues on the ground.

Florella – Finished alone when winning a heavy ground Godstone Restricted last month and was then beaten in a weak Intermediate at Parham last time. Even in a race as weak as this it is hard to see her being good enough on the form she has shown so far.

Kimora – Won this was in 2015 and 2016 and surprisingly didn’t run in it last year although it was a much stronger race than usual and she wouldn’t have made it a hat-trick. It will be quicker ground than the two years she won, but she should handle it. Won her first race since the 2016 victory last time out at Andoversford and that wasn’t a bad effort as she beat useful pointer Ni Sin E Mo Anim (who ended up being disqualified for missing a marker). The other two runs this season were decent enough in the context of this race as well. The jockey is a concern even though she did ride a winner at Cheltenham last week, but she has a good chance of landing this for the 3rd time.

One Big Love – Has gone through the grades this season and won her Intermediate 10 days ago at Littlewindsor. It was the same card Flights was a 7L 2nd in and the winning times were the same with One Big Love carrying 6lbs less. They also both ran on the same card at Milborne St Andrew in March where Flights was a 3L 2nd and One Big Love won. This time they carried the same weight and One Big Love was 3 seconds quicker. It does tend to suggest One Big Love might have the beating of Flights and she certainly has the best jockey in the race on. The question mark with her though is if she will handle this fast ground.

Young Cheddar – Ran OK at Ampton when 4th on his only start this season in January. Was in poor form last season though and was well beaten over course and distance off 102 on this ground last June. To be fair I’m not sure any of these would have managed much better so based on that and the Ampton run she wouldn’t totally be out of this.

Summary – This is a really weak race and hard to want to get too heavily involved. One Big Love looks the stable first choice and if she handles the ground she is probably the one to beat so I will have her onside, but I also want to cover Kimora. She looks a big price given we know course and distance suit well. The jockey is a worry, but I think that is factored into the price.

Tips – One Big Love and Kimora

5.30

Forever My Friend – Hard to know what form he is still capable of as he has been well beaten at Ludlow and Cheltenham this season, but both races were stronger than this. Was only last June that he won a handicap off 125 and nothing else in this race could do that. Handles quick ground as well so wouldn’t be a surprise if he bounced back to form here.

Never Complain – Won this race last year by 22L, but was probably the only horse in the contest to handle the soft ground. It was a shame he unseated at Dingley on his next start as Can Mestret ended up winning the race. This season he ran well on his return at Bangor until his lack of a run told late on. The close 3rd at Leicester over 2m was solid enough although he made hard work of it to finish that close. He was then 10th at Aintree which was as good as he could have hoped. Should be OK on this quicker ground than last year and has a chance to keep hold of his crown.

Can Mestret – A 2nd at this meeting last year showed a return to form and he has carried that on since. He looked the winner at Fakenham last week until his stamina ran out and this trip will be much more to his liking. Has a leading chance.

Fountains Cider – Was really lucky to win at Penshurst last month and has no chance in this.

Hammer And Anvil – Still a maiden and no chance here.

Hazy Tom – Won a weak race two starts back at Parham, but been well beaten in all his recent hunter chases.

Summary – Only the top 3 have a chance in this and it could be worth giving a chance to Forever My Friend who will find this lesser level of race more suitable. If he can get near the form he showed at Stratford a year ago that should be good enough and he has won on quick ground. Can Mestret will prefer this shorter trip compared to Fakenham last week and he might be the biggest danger so I will have him covered as well as a saver.

Tips Forever My Friend and Can Mestret

6.05

Herbert Park – A really tricky ride as he has shown on both starts this season although he won both. The Exeter win last time is pretty good form and Master Baker who was 2nd that day has won again since. He will need plenty of driving on the uphill finish to the line, but he is the one they have to beat. There is a slight question mark over the ground although you can say the same for the other leading contenders.

Bally River Boy – Got loose at Cheltenham and did a circuit, but clearly did him no harm as I saw him win a Restricted at Maisemore on the bank holiday Monday. I would imagine he will make the running although there are one or two others who might, but I think he will have too much speed. Quick ground will suit and although he is unlikely to be good enough to win he could run well.

In A Blue Dust – First thing to say is that the Racing Post have the wrong distance for his run last time as it was 2m4f not 3m. Clearly had issues as he was off for over 3 years before returning with a win at Cottenham in December. He then won next time out at Garthorpe although it wasn’t a strong heat. He was 2nd in that race at High Easter and the winner has won since. His form isn’t as good as Herbert Park and he was also beaten on both his runs on good to firm so that is a worry.

Just Cause – Has won really easily on the two times he has won this season, but then his jockey has also caused him to get beaten. Rupert Stearn took over in his hunter chase at Catterick where he ended up in 5th although in the context of this race that run is fairly good. He slipped up at Horseheath last time. He can be pretty keen and I think that might mean he struggles to see out the trip. He is one of the best horses in the race though, but I just can’t back anything the jockey rides so if he does win he won’t be carrying my money.

Summary – I don’t think the rest have any chance here. I was thinking Bally River Boy was going to be a double figure price so was surprised to see him so short. I think he can run well and he does handle the ground, but he is a short price on form. In A Blue Dust’s form on good to firm isn’t great and he needs to step up to bear Herbert Park anyway, although he shouldn’t be as big as he is in the betting. As I can’t back Just Cause because of the jockey I am firmly with Herbert Park. Yes the ground is a slight concern, but he has the best form in the race and although he is a hard ride he has got the job done both times this season and this looks a nice chance to land the hat-trick.

Tip – Herbert Park NB

6.40

Monsieur Gibraltar – It had been reported that Lorcan Williams had turned pro, but he seems to have put it off for now as I am guessing he wants to make sure of the amateur title first. He is the class act of the race and this is easier than the Cheltenham race he bolted up in last time.

Deadly Move – Won 5 points on the bounce last year and then went back to the trainers Dad under rules but it took him 4 goes before he was able to take advantage of his handicap mark of 107. Was novice ridden on his pointing return in March and he was never ridden to challenge. He should be capable of better today under a more experienced rider although hard to see how he can beat the top one.

Danandy – Was 2nd to Flights two starts back so she might frank the form in the first and he did win at Penshurst after that, but that was a weak race. Ran OK off 122 last August here, but evidence since suggests he is on the downgrade.

Don’t Do Mondays – Has found some form from somewhere winning 3 on the bounce, but as much as he is clearly in good heart, those were weak races and trying to beat Monsieur Gibraltar is a totally different kettle of fish.

Summay – As long as he gets round safely Monsieur Gibraltar should win this with ease. I am not sure how long 4/6 is going to be around for, but I was expecting 1/3 as this should be a walk in the park for him. Deadly Move should improve from his seasonal debut and he could be the one for 2nd.

Tip – Monsieur Gibraltar Nap

7.15

Curraigflemens – Has won on this card for the last two years, but I am surprised to see him running in this as I think he is better over a shorter trip. Although he has won one this season I am not sure he has been in quite the same form as the last two years and I think he will be outstayed and probably outclassed as well here.

Wonderful Charm – Gets his ground for the first time this season as it was way too soft for him at Cheltenham and Aintree. The slight concern is a more galloping track would suit given he found Stratford on the sharp side last year, but that was in the Stratford Foxhunters and he was a close 3rd. Nothing else in this race could be expected to run anywhere near to that level of form. It looks a perfect chance to get him back into the winners enclosure.

Al Co – Was beaten 40L in the 4 miler at Cheltenham, but didn’t run too badly and a bad mistake wouldn’t have helped. He will like the ground, but this could be a tough ask given he had a tough race less than 2 weeks ago.

Strollawaynow – Took full advantage of the Fakenham race falling apart last week to score by an easy 10L in the end, but he only beat a non stayer that day. At least we know he stays and handles decent ground, but 2nd the best he can hope for.

Summary – If Wonderful Charm doesn’t win this then it will be pretty surprising. He should be able to out class this lot. Curraigflemens shouldn’t be good enough or have enough stamina and I worry about Al Co having to try and back up running over 4m at Cheltenham, so Strollawaynow might be able to take advantage and finish 2nd.

Tip – Wonderful Charm to beat Strollawaynow fc

7.50

Big Bang De Loire – Won a maiden point in March, but he was disappointing in the Heart Of All England at Hexham when he was pulled up. The tongue-tie goes on for the first time which may help him and I wouldn’t want to totally rule him out, but at the same time I prefer others in the race.

Boygojumping – Was only just behind Starkie at Hackwood a couple of weeks ago which is good form in the context of this race. He was a fair 3rd to Flights the time before. He doesn’t really stay 3m and when he has been hunter chasing in the past he has never really had his ground. He was a close 2nd in the point to point bumper at Exeter a couple of years ago on decent ground and it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw an improved hunter chase performance tomorrow.

Changeofluck – He also ran on the Hackwood card earlier in the month although over 3m so we can’t compare the times. He was well backed and was an easy winner. That was following up a win at Kingston Blount where he was left clear at the last although he probably would have won anyway and the other horse has won since although it wasn’t a strong race I saw him win at Maisemore. Changeofluck recorded quick times in those wins although they were on cards where the better races weren’t over 3m so the times might not be as good a guide as usual. He was 3rd in the Restricted Final at Stratford which was a fair effort, but he was beaten 19L at the same time. He does have Gina on which is a plus and he has a good chance, but the price looks tight enough.

Full Batten – I really can’t understand why he is so short in the market. He hacked up in a Cottenham maiden in November, but it as a weak race. He has been beaten in 6 Restricted’s since and although he doesn’t stay 3m, they have been weak races he has been getting beaten in. So yes this trip might suit more, but I would be disappointed if he was good enough. He was also 29L behind Steeles Terrace who is a bigger price here and I don’t fancy him much either.

Goodnight Vienna – I’m not sure it would be great to see a 12yo winning a maiden hunter chase, but then this is a poor race and this one really interests me at a big price. Granted his run last time was poor, but otherwise I think he has a much better chance than his odds of 16/1 suggest. He has been running in much better races than most of these and was in front of a hunter chase winner at Ampton when 2nd to Warden Hill on his seasonal return. He was then a good 2nd in a Ladies Open at Horseheath. He was well behind Dabinett Moon when 2nd 2 starts back, but the soft ground wouldn’t have helped him there. He has run in 4 hunter chases 3 of which have been at Cheltenham’s hunter chase night and in the context of this race I think he has run creditably in all of them. He ran in the 4miler last year and was in front until the 22nd. That takes some doing and I think back down to this trip will help. I like his jockey and while he does have to bounce back from a poor run last time for me that is more than factored into his price.

Hinxworth – Might not be out of this. Was well backed when winning at Vauterhill and won easily 10 days ago. That was his 3rd run of the season and he has certainly improved on every run. I’m not putting him up, but if he did go and win it wouldn’t be a surprise and he certainly holds better claims than plenty here.

Le Fou Royal – Good jockey booking and fast ground suits, but the two wins aren’t great pieces of form and he doesn’t look good enough for me.

Steeles Terrace – Won his two over here, but was beaten at 1/2 in match after that and was beaten at Northaw on Bank Holiday Monday. I have been to Northaw many times and the form is always very weak so I think he might have a bit to find here.

Summary – Changeofluck might well win this, but he looks tight enough in the betting so I am going to take a chance on a couple at bigger prices. Boygoesjumping gets his conditions in a hunter chase for the first time and it was a really good run at Hackwood last time so he is one bet. The other though has to be Goodnight Vienna. He might be 12 and he might have been well beaten in his 4 hunter chases to date, but in the context of this race he ran creditably in all of them and this is by far the weakest hunter chase he has run in. He has run up against some fair pointers over the years as well and although he has to put a poor run last time behind him I fell that is more than factored into his price.

Tip – Goodnight Vienna e/w and Boygoesjumping

8.25

Numbercruncher – Racing under suitable conditions for the first time this season as either the ground has been too testing or the trip too far. He has run 3 eye-catching races as he ran well at Ascot until his stamina ran out. He was still in contention when unseating at Ludlow and then at Cheltenham two weeks ago he ran well to finish 7th in a hot race over a trip too far. A big player here.

Wells De Lune – Ran really well on his first start for a year at Bangor as he set a hell of a gallop in bad ground and still was able to finish 2nd to Barrakilla. He then hacked up at Ffos Las in a weak contest. He was never going to stay at Cheltenham, but led for a fair way and he was up there when coming down at Aintree although he was jumping left so hopefully he will jump better back over normal fences. He is likely to give it a real good go from the front although he will have competition from Brave Jaq, but the ground has to be a worry.

Brave Jaq – I thought he did fairly well to finish as close as he did at Cheltenham given how keen he was again. Could be a battle up front between him and Wells De Lune although that one is the better horse and Brave Jaq could probably do with a race where he isn’t going to get taken on for the lead.

Velvet Maker – Was well backed at Leicester, but was going backwards when unseating Maxwell. This is his trip and he has the back class, but the ground has a big worry and it is hard to back him after such a poor effort at Leicester.

Summary – For me the winner will be either Wells De Lune or Numbercruncher. I’ve been waiting for Numbercruncher to get his ideal conditions and I think he is in even better form than he was when he won at Stratford this season. He might well be able to pick off the front running Wells De Lune. I do think that one is a big danger though as despite the fact Brave Jaq will also be going quick he will be able to see him off. The ground is a concern for him though and that is enough to put me off at odds on. Brave Jaq has been backed and big prices and he might be able to hold on for a place.

Tip Numbercruncher e/w

Cheltenham Hunter Chase night

Cheltenham’s Hunter Chase night always sees some cracking racing with some exciting finishes and I am sure tonight’s action will be no different. I am making available the summaries and the tips that have made up my preview that I have sent to subscribers of my Hunter Chase service. I don’t think their is much depth to most of the races and thus think the top of the market is where the focus of attention should be. Hopefully this will help make you a few quid tonight.

4.55

Summary – Monsieur Gibraltar is the one they all have to beat and he should have the race run to suit as he can sit of what is likely to be a frantic pace and it should set things up nicely for him. It will be interesting how Mantou gets on in this better race after winning easily at Sedgefield as he will have conditions to suit again. Sam Cavallaro might well hit the frame again, but the main danger for me is Loughaderra Prince who ran well in a strong race at Hereford on his only start of the season and this test looks ideal for him based on that.

Tip – Monsieur Gibraltar

Alternative – Loughaderra Prince

5.30

 

Summary – Duhallow Tornado might have a double penalty to carry, but he has looked so impressive and the standard he sets is way above what anything else has achieved in the race with the Catterick win looking so good. The rest will have to find improvement from somewhere to beat the 6yo. The main danger for me is Thegirlfrommilan having clocked that quick time when winning on his debut for new connections. It would be no surprised if she improved on the form she showed for Rebecca Curtis as long as she handles the quicker ground.

Tip – Duhallow Tornado NAP

Alternative Thegirlfrommilan e/w

6.05

 

Summary – By far the weakest race on the card and one we saw a big price winner of last year. Maybe that will happen again, but to me it looks a two horse race between Foxcub and Stoleaway. The form of Foxcub’s Fakenham win isn’t up too much, but the 6th place finish at Catterick is good form in the context of this race and his win last time is good form. Stoleaway looks progressive which is pleasing after he missed last season and could easily make it 4 on the bounce.

Tip – Stoleaway

Alternative – Foxcub

6.40

 

Summary – Quite frankly if Barel Of Laughs comes here in anywhere near his best form he wins this. His form is a fair way clear of his rivals and I think the fact he has missed out running in the Lady Dudley Cup this season should mean he is in better form than when just beating The Wealerdealer by a short head in this race last year. He should have place claims and Pentiffic might be up to finishing in the frame, but hard to see anything being up to beating Barel Of Laughs.

Tip – Stick Barel Of Laughs in any multiple bets.

7.15

 

Summary – An interesting race. I think Teeton Power is worth backing as she looks really progressive and is probably over priced because she hasn’t been seen in a hunter chase yet. Dabinett Moon has looked in much better form this season than she was when a well beaten 2nd in this last year and I think she is worth covering. Frelia might win this again and the heart would love to see Popaway take the prize, but I like Queen Olivia and I think she has a good chance of beating Frelia again and her two Ludlow 2nds are good pieces of form.

Tip – Queen Olivia

Alternatives – Teeton Power and Dabinett Moon

7.50

 

Summary – Not many you can fancy here and I am firmly with Battle Dust. The form of his Catterick 2nd is strong and his win at Chepstow is good form as well. The way he races means this trip should be ideal for him and I can see him finishing strongly up the hill. Al Co can’t be totally ruled out on the better ground, but it is a worry he has gone backwards since the Kelso win. You Too Pet has won his last 3, but they weren’t strong contests. I like Hard Station and he will have a chance if he stays, but I am not sure he will. Supreme Danehill will stay though and he has an e/w chance.

Tip – Battle Dust NB

8.25

 

Summary – The race of the night for me and I am really looking forward to seeing what happens. The winner should come from Full Trottle, Mr Mercurial, Bear’s Affair, Salubrious and Shotavodka. Out of the 5 I think Mr Mercurial is over priced as he will be staying on up the hill and I can see him hitting the frame. I am a big fan of Full Trottle and I think he can reverse form with Bear’s Affair and Shotavodka and the wind op seems to have helped him at the end of his races based on the Ludlow effort. I do think though that if Salubrious is in the same form he was at Exeter then he is the one they have to beat.

Tip – Salubrious

Alternatives – Full Trottle &  Mr Mercurial e/w

Good luck with whatever you back

Hunter Chase Service 2018

The 2018 season will be the 9th year I have been providing tips for hunter chases online. For the first 3 years from 2010 I provided my tips for free and then I started charging for my tips in 2013 and every season has shown a profit. I have listed the estimated profits for each season below. Now I only put estimates up because for the first couple of years I would often send the preview out before the races were priced up so there was no advised price as such to take. I also didn’t put points next to my tips for the 3 h=Hunter Chase meetings so anything from those meetings aren’t counted (this season I will be putting points to my Hunter Chase meeting selections). I also think that people following any tipsters will often get different prices from those recommended and that SP isn’t always a reliable guide either as often my tips are shorter than people following would have got on at. So the profits listed are a guide only.

I firmly believe that Hunter Chases are the best type of race to make money on and until I focused on them I certainly wasn’t a profitable punter. You have to be prepared to put in the homework though and arguably it takes more homework than it does for a normal race. One of the reasons I started charging in the first place was because it was taking a fair amount of my time and it also allowed me to go from just putting a tip up to providing a more in depth preview, which I think any good tipster should be doing.

For me though the tips are only a part of the service because I write in depth previews for all the races and write a review for each race as well. If you have read any of the free previews I have posted then you will know how in depth I can go. Obviously not all of them will be as detailed as the Foxhunter/Hunter Chase night previews, but I think it gives a good example of the sort of thing you can expect if you sign up.

Previews are sent out via email usually the night before the race and the selections are given a suggested stake between 1 and 5 points. 5 point bets are pretty rare and for the first time I didn’t actually put one up at all last season. There are due to be 95 races this season (starting on January 9th at Taunton) and I charge £50 for the season. That means it works out at about 50p a race. Payment is made via Paypal to darranpearce@hotmail.co.uk although get in contact if you need to pay via another method. Feel free to contact me via email or Twitter if you have any further questions.

A few of last seasons highlights

Top Cat Henry 6/1

Poole Master 9/2

Arthur’s Secret 7/4

Always Archie 5/1

Now Ben 6/4

Close House 3/1, Repeat Business 4/1, Balnaslow 4/1 all on the same day

Sybarite 2nd @ 20/1 at Cheltenham Hunter Chase night and Nap Barel Of Laughs also won

Fontwell Hunter Chase night  included Supreme Danehill 16/1 and Let’s Get Serious 2nd ar 50/1 as well as the Nap and NB Curraigflemens (10/11) and Spencer Moon (5/4) both winning.

Young Hurricane 11/4

 

2017 29pts

2016 73pts

2015 120pts

2014 43pts

2013 30pts

Geelong Cup

Hopefully I managed to put some of you on to the Caulfield Cup winner Boom Time. In Australia he paid 50/1 although when I put the preview up he was a best price of 40/1 and I only took 33s as I wanted the 5 places. He was given the perfect ride and it was one of those races where everything fell into place. Not for one second do I think he was the best horse in the race, but he was in the right place at the right time and was good enough to take advantage.

On Wednesday at 6am we have the Geelong Cup and unusually there is no horse from Europe running in the race. We do though have a certain ex-French horse. If you read my piece on the Everest you will have read why I have been closely following Gallic Chieftain. Although his trainer Darren Weir did say the Queen Elizabeth on the final day of the Melbourne Cup Carnival was the main aim, I did wonder if he would take in the Geelong Cup on the way and he does just that. He finished 3rd in the Herbert Power and his jockey said after the race that the trainer needed to get him fit. Now I am not sure if that was tongue in cheek or what, but it does back up what Weir said pre-race when saying he might need one more run.

Now the Herbert Power is looking like a really strong piece of form. Boom Time was 4th in it and Lord Fandango who finished 4th in the Caulfield Cup won it. Lord Fandango also travelled 19 meters further than the winner so needless to say he probably would have confirmed the form with a kinder run. Hugo Palmer’s Wall Of Fire was 2nd and it was no surprise he firmed up for the Melbourne Cup after what happened on Saturday. It was great to see the form be franked in such a strong way on Saturday given how much I like the horse and I really am struggling to see how he fails to land this prize.

There are a couple of dangers. Berisha was a good 2nd to Folkswood in the Cranbourne Cup and that obviously brings him into contention here. He is 1-1 at the distance as he won the Mornington Cup last year. However he was behind Gallic Chieftain at Moonee Valley on his previous start and on that form I struggle to him reversing the placings. Grey Lion was 2nd in this last year and 3rd in the Cranbourne Cup and no doubt this has been his target. He will probably make the running and hopefully Gallic Chieftain can run him down. Gallic Chieftain’s stablemate Kellstorm wouldn’t be out of it on his 3rd in the Bart Cummings last time, but I thought it was a funny race and I don’t think the form can be trusted.

The main danger though could be from Archie Alexander’s Wheal Leisure. She has won both starts this prep and beat Lord Fandango on the first of them. She followed up at Caulfield at the start of the month and was scratched from a race on Saturday to run in this. Those wins came over 1600m and 2000m but the trip shouldn’t be an issue.

Interestingly Craig Williams takes the ride on Gallic Chieftain despite the fact Weir slagged off his ride on Amelie’s Star in the Caulfield Cup. To be fair it was a poor ride and I am sure Williams will be keen to make amends. He has a great draw in 2 and he should be able to settle midfield before making his run down the straight. I’m pretty confident about his chances on Wednesday morning in fact I would be disappointed if he failed to collect

 

Caulfield Cup Preview

So the Spring Carnival continues on Saturday with the Caulfield Cup due off at 6.30am UK time. Although Caulfield wasn’t on ATR last week they will be showing the Caulfield Cup so either set the alarm or the Sky+ to watch what should be a good race. Just a brief word on last week. The Everest tip was a bit disappointing, but Big Duke did win nicely. Gallic Chieftain ran really well to finish 3rd and I think he will come on again for that effort. He looks like he’s coming to the boil nicely for his big target.

It looks quite an open renewal of the Caulfield Cup and I have a shortlist of 4 that I am going to focus on. I am going to start with the favourite Johannes Vermeer who has been really well supported after finishing 2nd in the Caulfield Stakes last Saturday. He put some very impressive sectionals in at the end of the race and although he is unproven over 2400m I think he will be fine over the trip. The way he ran over 2000m last week certainly suggested a step up in trip wouldn’t be beyond him. In Australia running a horse a week after their last run happens all the time, but obviously isn’t something that happens over here very often. Usually that would be a concern, but this horse has won twice after similar length breaks so that shouldn’t be an excuse should he get beaten. He has drawn well and it is hard to see him finishing out of the first 4.

One of the most important questions in relation to the race was if Bonneval was ever lame or not. After her run in the Caulfield Stakes the stewards said she was lame and when the Racing Victoria vets checked her out during the week they said the same until Thursday morning when she was finally passed fit to run. The thing is her trainer said she wasn’t lame at any stage and Kerrin McEvoy who rode her in work said the same thing. Whatever the truth I thought it was odd they ran her last week. I didn’t really see an upside to doing so especially given they didn’t seem to want to put her under too much pressure. This has been the key target all along and prior to the run last week she had been impressive in her two victories especially in the Underwood Stakes. She won the ATC Oaks earlier in the year over this trip so that isn’t a concern, although her wide draw is. McEvoy is on fire at the moment however so it would be no surprise if she overcame that to go very close.

Ventura Storm will be a name familiar to  UK punters as he finished 2nd in last years St Leger to Harbour Law. After that he won a Group 1 in Italy before being shipped out to Oz. He ran a decent enough race on his debut there in May at Flemington before coming back last month. He seems to have improved on every run since all of which have been over unsuitable trips. Last time over 2000m he was 2nd to Winx in the Turnbull Stakes. Now obviously he had no chance of beating her, but he was in front of Humidor and I thought he ran a really nice race over a trip too short for him. He has a great draw here and the 2400m trip will be much more suitable. One slight doubt is that this might be another prep for the Melbourne Cup, but he looks a great e/w price in my view.

There has been some support for Boom Time at big prices and I am not surprised as he looks to be the best of the outsiders. He seems to be coming to the boil nicely this prep. He was 3rd behind Jon Snow in the JRA Cup over 2040m at Moonee Valley last month and then last week he was 4th behind Lord Fandango in the Herbert Power. Now on the face of it you might think he wouldn’t be capable of reversing the form with the winner, but I really liked the way he stayed on after setting a strong pace with others, all of whom dropped out to the back. He has a great draw to be in a position to be in the front rank and there shouldn’t be as much pressure on him here. He might not be good enough, but I don’t think he should be the price he is at all.

So the main two I am going to back are Ventura Storm and Boom Time. Even if they are using this as a Melbourne Cup prep for the former he should still be finishing fast and hit the frame at the very least. The later is over the odds and I think he can run a big race from the front. Betfred and Skybet are both going 5 places as well if you can get on with either. I also think Bonneval has drifted out too much and will have a small saver on her, with Johannes Vermeer the other one I think will finish in the first 4.

  1. Ventura Storm
  2. Bonneval
  3. Johannes Vermeer
  4. Boom Time

The Everest

Now I obviously set up this Blog for my Non-League previews but it seems to make sense to use it to preview other things as well especially now my Non-League stuff is elsewhere. I have a pretty keen interest in Australian horse racing so I have decided to take a look ahead to The Everest which will be run in the early hours of Saturday morning UK time at Randwick in Sydney. If you aren’t aware this is a brand new race and is the richest race to be run on turf anywhere in the world. It promises to be one hell of a race and one well worth setting the alarm for (or setting Sky+ as I will be doing!).

Chautauqua – Been one of the top Aussie sprinters for a while now and he loves this course and distance having won the T J Smith for the last 3 years. If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend viewing his win this year in the race as it was an incredible performance. 1200m is his trip with 8 of his 13 victories coming over the distance. Has had two starts this prep first of all finishing 7th over 1100m behind Redzel. I thought that was a very creditable run given the trip, the fact it was his first start (he had two trials prior to the run) and obviously his prep has been all about peaking for this contest. He flew home that day and it looked the ideal run. 2 weeks later he finished 6th in the Premiere Stakes which is over 1200m. I wasn’t quite as impressed though again it was no surprise to see him come from so far back, but I was expecting a bit more stepping up in trip. Having said that he is impossible to write off and he will be peaking now.

Vega Magic – Has won 12 of his 17 starts and is 9 from 12 over 1200m. Has only run in 3 Group 1’s and he has won two of them, The Goodwood at Morphettville in May and then the Memsie at Caulfield last month on what was his last start. He was pretty impressive in the Memsie although quite a few of the opposition that day need further than 1400m.

Redzel – Has just the two wins over 1200m one of which was a Group 3 here in April and the other the Doomben 10000 (Group 1) back in May. Has won both his starts this prep over 1000m and then the Group 2 The Shorts over 1100m Had a trail on October 3rd which he also won. My concern would be that others are better over this trip than he is and I can’t help thinking Chautauqua will improve past him.

Redkirk Warrior – Actually started life trained by William Haggas over here and he won both starts at Yarmouth and Ascot in 2014 over 1m2f. He then went to Hong Kong where he won once over 1m in 4 starts. He has done will back in trip though as on just his 2nd start over 1200m he won the Group 1 Newmarket at Flemington in March and then over the same course and distance he won a Group 2 last month. This is stronger than either of those two, but a bold showing wouldn’t surprise.

Clearly Innocent – Not achieved as much as others although he did win a Group 1 at Eagle Farm back in May over 1300m. Thought he ran well in his prep for this when 3rd in the Premiere although I think he would be a surprising winner

Deploy – Is 2 from 2 over course and distance including a Group 3 back in August. Won a Group 2 over 1300m at Rosehill last month before finishing 3rd in a trail behind Redzel earlier in this month. On balance I think he has a bit to find with the leading contenders.

Fell Swoop – Finished 6th in The Shorts and 8th in the Premiere and both runs suggest he has a bit to find to feature here.

Brave Smash – Although he is now trained by Darren Weir he is the only vaguely international runner having only recently come over from Japan and Jamie Spencer has been booked for the mount. He has been a little disappointing in 3 Aussie starts though. He finished 2nd to Vega Magic before winning a Listed Race at Moonee Valley. Last time out he was 2nd at Caulfield again in a Listed Race and he really should have been winning that fairly easily if he was going to have a serious chance here.

English – Has flattered to decieve on a few occasions although is right in this on the pick of his form. He was 2nd to the flying Chautauqua in the TJ Smith in April, having finished 3rd to him last year. The 2nd to In Her Time in the Premiere suggests he could be back to his best, but he just doesn’t win enough for me and I see him as more a place chance than a winning one.

She Will Reign – Won the biggest 2yo race in Australia The Golden Slipper over course and distance in March and has on suffered defeat in one of her 6 starts. She had a couple of trials prior to her first run since the Golden Slipper victory and Moonee Valley a couple of weeks ago. That return was in the Group 1 Moir Stakes and it is a race well worth watching. She had no right to win the race as plenty was against her, but she flew home under Kerrin McEvoy to get up right on the line. To put the effort into some sort of context the track was favouring front runners all evening so to win the way she did was really impressive. Given it was her first start of the prep she should have more to come and given she only has to carry 51kg compared to the 58.5kg of the older horses I make her the one they all have to beat.

Houtzen – Is 5-7 in her short career, but both defeats have come in the best two races she has run in. She won the Magic Millions on the Gold Coast and was then 5th behind She Will Reign in the Golden Slipper and was 2nd in a Group 2 at Moonee Valley on the first start this prep. I thought that was a bit disappointing and although she won a Group 3 on the same night She Will Reign won the Moir, it still didn’t strike me as a horse who could win a race like this.

Tulip – She is the horse who is representing Coolmore in the end, but she looks up against it. Was a good 3rd in the Golden Slipper, but has been beaten the last twice and looks to have plenty on her plate.

Summary – I have to be with She Will Reign. I was really taken with her win in the Moir last time in a performance that can be upgraded given the way the track was riding that night. She should come on for her first run this prep and the weight she gets from her elders is another big plus for her. As much as I thought Chautauqua was a little disappointing last time, I rate him the main danger. He loves this course and distance and he should be primed to run a big race on his 3rd run this prep. He will be flying late that’s for sure. Given the popularity of the first 4 bet in Austrilia I am going to chuck in English, doesn’t win often but fairly consistent and ran well last time, for 3rd and Redkirk Warrior, who seems to have improved for the drop down to this trip, for 4th.

As well as the action at Randwick the Spring Carnival steps up another gear at Caulfield and the horse I have had a speculative punt on for the Melbourne Cup Gallic Chieftain is running in the Herbert Power. Now I have Tweeted a fair bit about him in recent months but here is a brief summary of the horse. He first came to my attention when I was in Australia for the Melbourne Cup last year and I was watching the racing coverage on the TV on the final day of the holiday. They were racing at Sandown that afternoon and the ex-French horse Gallic Chieftain was favourite for one of the races after a promising couple of runs in Oz. He didn’t win that afternoon, but he was one of the biggest eye-catchers I have ever seen and knew he would surely be winning next time. Into the tracker he went when I got back and I didn’t have to wait long for him to turn up again this time at Pakenham and he duly landed the spoils. Ever since then he has done nothing but improve and he took the Listed Winter Cup in Sydney on his final start of his last prep. After that connections were dreaming of the Melbourne Cup as was I as I am certain the 2m trip is what he needs and he is still improving.

He has had two starts so far this prep and I think both have been encouraging. He ran at Moonee Valley last time (on the same card as the Moir) and he caught the eye once again. As mentioned above the track wasn’t suiting horses coming from behind so he did well to finish as close as he did and although he has won at the track, I don’t think it is one that suits him well. Saturday is the best race he has run so far, but the step up to 2400m will suit and interestingly he has been really well backed. Bet365 put him in at 16/1 to start with that became 8/1 and he is now only 5/1 after the final decs were made. I suspect the race will tell us if he is good enough to for the Melbourne Cup or not, but the market moves are encouraging. He is currently 100/1 for the race and if the market moves are right and he runs a big race on Saturday that price will disappear rather quickly.

Since I wrote the above I have seen an interview with his trainer Darren Weir and he says he may still need the run on Saturday although he was just as pleased with his last run as I was. He also mentioned that the Queen Elizabeth Stakes on the final day of carnival at Flemington was the target. I still think though the Melbourne Cup might end up on his agenda if he gets into the race.

Another Weir horse I have been following closely is Big Duke who was trained in this country by Michael Wigham and was last seen over here winning a class 4 handicap at Wetherby last May. He has done nothing but improve since going to Oz and he runs in the St Leger at Randwick on Saturday in a race that looks ideal for him. I expect he will be Melbourne Cup bound.