We landed the placepot again at Wolves yesterday, but such is the nature of the bet that sometimes it's just not worth anything. Yesterday was one of those times as the dividend returned a whopping (not) £8.10.
I'm heading to Stratford tonight to watch geegeez syndicate horse, Priceless Art, run in the 7.10 race. He's napped in the Racing Post, but I'd make it an open enough contest, as you'll see in a minute. But let's start at the start: leg one, the 5.40...
5.40 - Leg 1: A compelling opener, and I wouldn't have it as clear cut as the market suggests, with Rosslyn Castle half the price of anything else. The jolly has been ridden by AP McCoy in all of his three starts to date, but that's not been enough to coax a win from him, and he's starting to look less capable over hurdles than on the flat (where he was top rated of these on 88).
Macarthur was rated 83 on the level but he too has had plenty of chances. In fairness, he's been taking on experienced handicap company and this represents a drop down in class. Still, he's a seven start maiden. Allowed has more scope and was fair on the flat (73 rated from three maiden runs), and he ought to appreciate this easier track and quicker ground.
Then there's Professeur Emery and Imperial Stargazer, both of which have fair form; and Claiming Benefits, who has at least won a race (a heavy ground bumper). Worse still, horses like Broughtons Bandit, who chased home the highly progressive Sea Lord last time, and Collingwood, capable of much improvement after a single start for Philip Hobbs, could also get engaged here if he settles better.
Yes, it's proper trappy. In the finish, I'm going to side with Rosslyn Castle on A, in case I've merely over-complicated things, and take three B's as well: Professeur Emery, Allowed and Broughtons Bandit.
A - 12 (Rosslyn Castle)
B - 1 (Broughtons Bandit), 8 (Professeur Emery), 9 (Allowed)
6.10 - Leg 2: Ah, good old Azure Fly. Capable but quirky and he gained few friends when lobbing the rider on the run in last time. I can't live with him, but I can't live without him. So he's a shared A pick, alongside the hurdle debutant - but 95-rated on the flat - Ittirad, who might be decent in this sphere.
A - 1 (Azure Fly), 4 (Ittirad)
6.40 - Leg 3: A nice little handicap, and plenty with chances. Castlemorris King has been very consistent and has McCoy on for the first time. He ought again to run his race, and may be a popular banker. As such, we'll try to get him beaten! I'm quite drawn to the pace-pressing Cavite Eta, a horse that has been running in higher grade than this. His last six runs have returned form of 1P23P5, but if we take the Class 3 races out and focus only on the Class 4 ones, it becomes 123: a much more compelling string in this Class 4 contest.
Cavite Eta might get taken on for the lead but, if he gets an easy lead, he's very likely to outrun odds of around 18/1.
Ivan Vasilevich is the other that will appreciate the drop in class. His Class 4 hurdles figures are 32121 before the Class 3 hike added 356 to his overall record. Back down a rung and fit from the flat, he should run his race. And Screaming Brave is another for whom the drop to Class 4 can make a difference. His record in this grade over hurdles reads 212421.
Owning connections of Canna are respected, but the trainer is an unknown (just 24 NH runners in three seasons, one winner), and there's not enough in that to tempt me. Vexillum dogged it right in last time, and could bounce back to win... but he could be doggy again.
A - 1 (Ivan Vasilevich), 2 (Castlemorris King)
B - 3 (Screaming Brave), 4 (Cavite Eta)
7.10 - Leg 4: So we come to Priceless Art's race. Yes, he's napped in the Racing Post. Yes, he's won his only other race here (a bumber on his debut). Yes, two and a half miles is probably ideal. Yes, good ground is perfect. But. But... we'd have rather found a Class 4 race for him, and there's just a chance he could bounce after a really nice run following a year off. He's certainly worth including, but it's too open a race to do anything brave/stupid.
I'm siding against Lough Derg Way, a horse whose last defeat was four starts back, by... Priceless Art! My preference is for Highway Code and Nobunaga. The former has been running really well in good class novice chases and handicaps, and there's no reason he won't run his race again. The latter is most interesting to me, aside from our boy. Good ground and this sort of track seem perfect - as evidenced by his good ground win here last summer - and whilst the trip might stretch him a bit, he's worth a try at it.
I might be wrong - for a change! (not) - but I don't fancy too many of the rest of them.
A - 1 (Highway Code), 6 (Nobunaga), 8 (Priceless Art)
7.40 - Leg 5: Bad horses and lots of 'em contest this bad handicap hurdle, which is a seller in all but name. There are a couple that stand out for me: Brass Monkey and Adios Alonso. Brass Monkey has won two of his nine starts, and seems to prefer going left-handed: it's two from five left-handed and 0 from 4 right-handed. He likes good ground, this is his trip, and it's hardly a great race. Did I mention that already?!
Adios Alonso should be shorter than 16/1! He's been running well, including when second in a Class 4 race two starts back, and - though he tumbled last time - has conditions in his favour again. A rating of 91, with Ben Poste taking off another five pounds, means he's got just 10-10 to carry and I'm tempted to back him each way as well.
Moorlands Jack is capable of improved form on his first run for Jeremy Scott, and he's been backed as though he has improved. I'd be slightly apprehensive about the likely hold up ride he'll get in this sort of race, but if Nick Scholfield doesn't get too far outpaced, he might creep into it. And Vinnie My Boy ran very well in defeat to Man Of Leisure last time, and can go close again.
Tisfreetdream is about 65 now, but he's still capable in this sort of context. At around 40/1 I couldn't include him on the placepot, but he might be worth a very small each way wager, having won as recently as three hurdle starts back. He clearly isn't a fan of chasing...
A - 3 (Vinnie My Boy), 10 (Brass Monkey)
B - 2 (Moorlands Jack), 8 (Adios Alonso)
8.10 - Leg 6: Prospect Wells is rated 99 on the flat, and 150 over hurdles, having won a Grade 2 on his penultimate start in that game. Over fences, he's been second and won in his two attempts to date, and he ought to win this, despite plenty of above average horses in opposition. If they all go, he's a place lay in any case, assuming the pot's shaping up to merit that tactic.
A - 3 (Prospect Wells)
Just A's - 1 x 2 x 2 x 3 x 2 x 1 = 24 bets
All picks - 4 x 2 x 4 x 3 x 4 x 1 = 384 bets
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