We start todays Channel 4 action with a group race from Newbury. The current favourite is Romsdal who had an incredible season last year and returned to action with a win at Kempton. The horse is undoubtedly the favourite to win this and if push came to shove this would definitely be my idea of the most likely winner, however with eight runners I’m going to look for a bit of value.
Windshear and Arab Spring are class horses from top stables and with Windshear winning on its return this season it has clearly trained on and retains its three year old ability.
All this aside however I have gone for a horse that comes from a yard that has a 24% strike rate over the last two weeks. Scotland will enjoy the good going and despite slight concerns over the trip I think the 12/1 price currently on offer looks great value and with currently three places available is my selection for a great each way bet.
Our first bit of jumping action for the day sees a small runner two and a half mile chase. There is very little to choose between all six runners but I have managed to narrow it down to two.
My final decision is to choose between either Oscar Rock or Seventh Sky. I would be hard pressed to see the winner coming away from these two unless Solar Impulse manages to recapture some of its previous form.
Between the two however I’ve gone for the horse that has been more sparingly raced, has a yard that is based closer to Ayr and who I think will appreciate the ground more so than the other. The choice in this case then falls to Oscar Rock, although Seventh Sky seems great value it has raced eleven times since October last year where as the market leader has just raced on four occassions. How much the Charlie Mann trained runner still has left to give before a well deserved break I just couldn’t be sure and although it’s marginal between the two I am sticking with the Brian Hughes ridden seven year old.
Oscar Rock (WIN)
Our second live race from Newbury sees champion two year old Tiggy Wiggy line up and heads the market at an odds on price.
The Hannon horse is clearly the classiest in the race and has performed at a much higher level than most of it’s rivals today.
I don’t think the Hughes ridden filly will have a stellar season this year but is still more than capable of beating this level of competition on it’s seasonal return.
Of the remaining runners you have to fear John Gosden’s undefeated Jellicle Ball but it has to take a marked step up in improvement from it’s sole start.
Tiggy Wiggy (WIN)
Despite the face we have both the Scottish National and Spring Cup to come later today I think this is by far the toughest race to call. With their only being fifteen runners it’s an absolute pain for punters with only three places on offer as well.
Tony Martin sends I Shot The Sheriff over from Ireland and considering it’s rare that Irish trainers will do this, unless the major festivals such as Cheltenham or Aintree it is definitely worth noting. But with a penalty to contend with and going up against much better opposition than it will have faced in Ireland it is certainly opposable.
Sign Of A Victory represents the same connections as the Cheltenham winning Call The Cops and coming from the Nicky Henderson yard it has to have a great chance but it’s last two runs in which it finished fourth of just six runners on both occassions is not something that fills you with confidence. The return to a decent surface will surely be of benefit but a lot is taken on trust and I just couldn’t be willing to be all too trustworthy with a relitively short price.
Irving was seen as a potential Champion Hurdle contender when winning the Fighting Fifth earlier in the season, things didn’t quite pan out as hoped but this is miles below some of the competition it faced earlier in the year, that being said after being beaten comprehensively a few times this year you have to wonder what it has left to give.
Despite the annoyance at there only being three places I’m still going to plump for two selections in this.
From the same yard as Irving, Paul Nicholls also sends Calipto, it was one of our 40 National Hunt horses to follow and despite being one of the favourites for the Imperial Cup it flattered to deceive. However a return to a better surface and with it being sparingly ridden this year must be fresher than most of its rivals and will be worth a shot at a decent price.
Another horse that I was pretty confident with going to Cheltenham was Phillip Hobbs’ Cheltenian. It is easy to forget this horse has won a Champion Bumper and as such has that touch of class. It’s obvious to see that the horse hasn’t fulfilled its early promise but a respectable effort at Cheltenham and as another that has been sparingly entered it could sneak a place.
Our final group race on the flat is another that’s headed by a horse from the Richard Hannon stable.
Not only do the yard saddle the favourite Ivawood but also current second favourite Estidhkaar.
Ivawood has only lost one of it’s four races when last seen at Newmarket on soft ground. It is a reasonable enough excuse for the horses second placed finish and if it can improve with the step up to seven furlongs it is more than a worthy favourite. That being said however I feel the competition the horse faces today maybe even better than it has been up against before and I have to look for better value.
The aforementioned Estidhkaar is another with a great chance but the horses relative inconsistency makes me worry what side the horse will show today.
Of the remaining runners I have opted with the very lightly raced Flaming Spear. The Kevin Ryan horse is undefeated and represents top connections. An impressive start to it’s career when winning it’s one and only race at York and if it improves again on it’s scintillating first trip out on the course it should be in the shake up for at least the top three.
Flaming Spear (E/W)
Our third and final race from Ayr before the big Scottish National sees a seven runner field line up for a handicap chase.
As with the first race from Ayr that we covered it’s a race where I have narrowed it down to just the two runners and although it seems somewhat obvious they are the two that are at the top of the betting.
Duke Of Navan has to be respected coming from a locally based trainer but the fact it was beaten twice when odds on favourite on both of its last two starts. I wonder wether or not the horse was really primed for those races and it just flattered to live up to expectations, the horse is a worthy favourite but this slight doubt is what has lead me to opt for Dan Skelton’s Le Bacardy.
The Skelton yard are hitting form as the season draws to a close. The horse won this race last year and with this being the first time the yard has sent the horse out since changing connections you’d expect they want to make a good impression. If the horse finds its best form it should definitely be hard to beat and I just hope it can recapture its best to win this.
Le Bacardy (WIN)
Our fourth and final visit to Newbury is for their one mile, Spring Cup, handicap.
With over twenty runners going to post it will be a veritable cavalry charge and a couple of selections may be in order for this one.
At the head of the betting is the Jim Crowley ridden Buckstay. The horse made a promisining seasonal reappearance when finishing second last time out but I just couldn’t be with a favourite in such a large field when its only success has been on the artificial surface at Kempton. The horse clearly has ability and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it up with the main contenders near the end of the race but in a race like this there is much better value elsewhere.
Looking down the betting and The Lincoln winner Gabrial also runs in this. A great effort to take the Doncaster showpiece last time out but with the inevitable hike in the weights for that success it may be a bit too much of a task to take this as well.
Another horse that also contested The Lincoln, when finishing a respectable seventh, is Jacks Revenge. The George Baker trained seven year old will have blown a few cobwebs away with its seasonal reapparance and with it being drawn near the market leaders should have a great chance in this and has to go down as one of my selections.
My other selection comes from the bang in form Richard Fahey yard. Despite the fact they have Gabrial as one of their fancied runners I actually prefer the chances they have with Loving Spirit. The horse has dropped in the handicap and now enlists the services of Ryan Moore which is a huge plus. This is the first time the yard have raced the horse since changing hands and if they unlock the key to this one it could run a big race.
Jacks Revenge (E/W)
Loving Spirit (E/W)
We end todays TV Tips with the showpiece jumps race of the day. The Scottish Grand National over a whopping four miles and half a furlong.
Gallant Oscar is our market leader and comes from the jumping powerhouse of Jonjo O’Neill and JP McManus, however it is obviously a big concern that AP McCoy doesn’t take the ride on Gallant Oscar and in a race like this there has to be value further down the betting.
A horse I was a huge fan of going to Cheltenham was Alan King’s Sego Success. It was one of my antepost tips for the meeting and it ran credibly enough to finish fifth over four miles. I think the type of course Cheltenham is didn’t play into its hands that day and it’ll be better suited by a track like Ayr. The King yard are in fine form and the horse is given a decent chance with a decent enough weight on its back today.
Royal Player seems to be the dark horse in the race with a lot of question marks to answer. It arrives here with two wins from its last three races and it’s interestin to see such a lightly raced horse take on such a challenge, it has to be respected considering its connections but being lumped with one of the bigger weights I just couldn’t side with it today although it will be one to keep an eye on.
With such a marathon trip half the battle is to find a horse that you know will stay and two such horses also make my shortlist. Both Goonyella and Summery Justice are proven over this sort of trip and should definitely be there nearer the end when many of its rivals are wavering. Venetia Williams has her stable buzzing around the end of the season and considering Summery Justice finished fifth in this last year it isn’t given a big challenge in the weights. Goonyella on the other hand is number five and is given a relitively hefty weight to lumber after its success in The Midlands National but it won so well that day I’m going to stick with it now that it tackles the Scottish equivilant.
Sego Success (E/W)
Summery Justice (E/W)
by Rory Paddock
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