A veritable plethora of racing goodies today, ranging from the £60,000 Pertemps Network Swinton Handicap Hurdle at Haydock through two Classic Trials at Leafy Lingfield and out into the £105,000 totescoop6 Victoria Cup at Ascot.
To Haydock first, where 17 go to post for the ‘Swinton’ at 3.10 and the bookies have the perennial underachiever Peace And Co as favourite at 6-1.
This 6-y-o burst on to the jumping scene back in December 2014, taking two novice hurdles with ease before winning the Triumph, from stablemate Top Notch. Since then, the gelding has been a huge disappointment, achieving absolutely nothing but still retaining a high enough mark to carry top weight in this event. Although 10th place in the Scottish Champion Hurdle (beaten nearly 7 lengths) has clearly been seen by many as a revival, we will start this analysis by putting a firm line through it.
Our idea of the value bet in this race is an e/w whack into Multiculture at a very acceptable 9-1. This useful Flat performer is in the highly capable hands of Philip Hobbs and has been mopping up novice hurdle races to gain experience for its big day – which is today. All wins have been on heavy ground which it won’t get today, but the 14mm of pluvial matter that cascaded on the course overnight has increased the horse’s chances x 2.With the handicapper declining to raise Multiculture’s rating of 130 after its latest 26 length victory, the yard may think the festive season has come early.
In a race of this intensity, it’s always best to have a back-up plan and we suggest covering on both runners supplied by Evan Williams, who has won this race twice in the past 5 runnings. John Constable finished a close 4th in this race last year off a 4lbs higher mark and considering the horse was still an entire, that was some performance. The differences this year are: 1) minus tackle; 2) plus tongue; 3) plus wind op, so they mean business – a small win bet at 8-1 is advised.
Mr Williams’ other runner, Court Minstrel, although 10 years old now, is too well handicapped to be ignored. Last seen being beaten less than 5 lenghts in the Randox Health County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, this old stager may not win, but could go close, so at 12-1 a modest each way stake is recommended.
The Victoria Cup at Ascot was sponsored by a casino in days gone by, but is now in the hands of Betfred and no less than 26 runners will be thundering down the straight 7 furlongs at 4.00. (‘Oh, I’ve just worked out the headline – casino – chips, right?’ ‘Give me strength’)
It’s double figure prices bar one in this contest and the one is Fastnet Tempest at 5-1.
Might seem a skinny price, but given luck in running, this William Haggas beast will surely take all the beating. Just touched off in the Newbury Spring Cup on reappearance and only 1lb higher today, the drop back to 7f should be ideal and with the fragrant Josephine doing the steering, a run for your wonga is assured. Think it either wins or it doesn’t, so little point in going each way at the price – small win please.
The Classic Trials at Lingfield are, surprise surprise, dominated by horses trained by Aiden O’Brien although his representative in the Oaks Trial at 1.55 is second favourite behind the once raced The Sky Is Blazing. This filly won a Class 5 Maiden at Newcastle over a mile, beating not very much and it is a leap of faith to back this horse at 11-10. Pocketfullofdreams, however, the A O’B representative, has 4 runs under her belt and has been placed in Listed grade. At 9-4, Ryan Moore’s mount is a strong recommendation.
O’Brien’s charge in the Betfred Derby Trial at 2.30 is Sir John Lavery, which was a wide margin winner of a Gowran Park maiden last October and firmly enters the ‘could be anything’ category. However, at even money this is not for me and, with a ‘dead eight’ field, an each way lump on the Johnny G trained Tartini at 9-2 is strongly suggested. Reappearing in the Epsom Derby Trial, Tartini had a troubled passage before finishing strongly into 4th behind 3 horses all of which have franked the form since. With the extra distance today, this horse, which has two Group 2 entries at Royal Ascot, can give the fav something to think about.
C’est tout – bonne chance!