Pretty desperate fare for a Saturday, in truth, reflecting the lull between Epsom and Royal Ascot. It's a surprise to me that they moved the very good Stratford hunter chase card from Saturday to Friday night, as that would have been a lot more compelling than what we're faced with as punters today.
Consequently, I'm heading up to Newbury tonight, as the least of many evils...
6.30 - Leg 1: We start with a fourteen runner amateur riders' handicap (oh yes), and these are generally races in which to side with a good jockey on a fairly good horse, rather than a fairly good jockey on a good horse. Our own Julia Feilden has won this three times in the last six years, including with Night Orbit (one of my favourite horses in which I had a share) but alas she's not got a runner tonight.
They're likely to go off too fast here, and it's a very long straight at Newbury. The likes of Flag Of Glory and Edgware Road will probably be spent by the quarter pole under their inexperienced jocks, and it could pay to side with a well-ridden handy runner. Here, I'm thinking about Garrisson, a horse with an all weather win at a mile, but no turf form whatsoever. His jockey, Simon Walker, is standout best of these when Ross Birkett isn't riding, and he makes A on the basis of his pilot alone.
I'll also add the in-form Balmoral Castle, and Srinagar Girl, which has run well in most of her turf starts despite failing to make the frame yet.
On B, I'm told Ollie Sangster can ride, and he'll be playing a waiting game with Capitol Gain, which is expected to run fairly well. And Strike Force, which used to be trained by Julia Feilden and is a course and distance winner for today's owner/trainer/jockey, could again go close under favoured conditions.
A - 4 (Srinagar Girl), 6 (Garrisson), 9 (Balmoral Castle)
B - 1 (Strike Force), 2 (Capital Gain)
7.00 - Leg 2: Kieran O'Neill rode Ligeia on debut, and he keeps the ride here. As far as I'm concerned, that's the only significance of Richard Hughes being on board stablemate, Amontillado. That latter might be slightly better drawn, but the former has a better level of form from which to improve.
Of the unraced brigade - which is most of 'em - there's nothing from a big stable and nothing which has been well supported. Ligeia. Banker.
A - 12 (Ligeia)
7.30 - Leg 3: I reckon this is a very 'gettable' favourite in Net Whizz. Top trainer and jockey combo mean it will receive plenty of support, but the horse has to prove it can do it on turf, albeit after just the one start when sent off a short favourite in a Newmarket maiden. He could be thereabouts, of course, but I'm siding elsewhere this time.
Specifically, Ree's Rascal has everything going for him, assuming there's some pace on early. A late running sort, he has more places than wins to his name (as most talented late runners do), but he's beaten plenty of these recently, and can do so again.
If there isn't much pace, then the front-running Nazreef might be in a position to steal it. He's got form in this grade, and he's rated twenty pounds lower on turf than all weather. As with all such types, there's a reason for that, but at the prices and with his running style, I'll chance him getting out and staying out.
Yojimbo is a big price here, but has also beaten plenty of these lately, and will find this smaller herd much more to his tastes after four runs in huge fields. He's talented enough in the context of the race to play a part, and is just the sort of horse (form of 6000) that I like to include in my perms.
I'm against the first two in the market, and it's to be hoped that's not our undoing...
A - 4 (Ree's Rascal), 5 (Yojimbo), 8 (Nazreef)
8.00 - Leg 4: Superboot ran a blinder when a length third in a Chester maiden over this trip, but he's sure to find the wide expanses of the six furlong piste here a different challenge. I just don't think Frankie's quite there fitness wise yet, and there's always value opposing top jockeys when possible. Allied to that is Michael Wigham's 22 places from 149 runners in maidens in the last decade (14.77% place rate), although in fairness he's unlikely to have had too many starting at 4/1 or shorter.
The favourite, Floating Along, looks hard to keep out on both his last two bits of form. Given my reservation about the Wigham/Dettori horse, and the fact that the other main player, according to the market at least, is a Noseda newcomer (13% strike rate from nearly 500 starters in the last decade), I'll bank on the floater. 😉
A - 7 (Floating Along)
8.30 - Leg 5: Wide open, and I don't know which way to turn. In such circumstances, when I've saved a bit of ammo, I let the market be my guide. So I'll take Passion Play, and Honourable Knight on A; and Admirable Duque, Eshtyaaq and Double Cee on B. Unsophisticated as a cosh, but hopefully effective.
A - 3 (Passion Play), 6 (Honourable Knight)
B - 2 (Double Cee), 4 (Eshtyaaq), 7 (Admirable Duque)
9.00 - Leg 6: A fillies' handicap with the 'dead eight', meaning a non-runner takes us to two places. These races can create upsets, and hopefully it won't be us crying into our chips. I've got some bullets left, and I intend to use them.
The lone pace angle might be Amosite and, if Frankie's not cream crackered, he's a pretty good judge of speed in a race. He could get this lass out, slow it up, kick on and steal first run, and not get caught. I'll also take Ellie In The Pink, a course and distance winner off three pounds lower. She wouldn't want the ground too fast, but is quite capable at this level.
Some B reinforcements in the shape of the unexposed Spiritual Girl, and the dropping-back-in-trip, Saint Irene.
A - 2 (Amosite), 3 (Ellie In The Pink)
B - 4 (Saint Irene), 5 (Spiritual Girl)
Just A's - 3 x 1 x 3 x 1 x 2 x 2 = 36 bets
All picks - 5 x 1 x 3 x 1 x 5 x 4 = 300 bets
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