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Winners last week, a horse with all four legs, and shoot me, I have done it again – listened to a trainer!

Paul NichollsTwo winners and an each way fourth that did what they all seem to do and finished one place out of the money after I backed him at a massive 16/1 only to see Long Run backed down to 7/1 and run a blinder if not quite up to paying me any returns! Doctor Harper was an embarrassment on Sunday (yes he did win but 1/5 – oops, I would never knowingly give out a selection at that sort of price), but Rolling Star did impress at 5/2 and is added to the horses to follow list below if only because a) they think a lot of him and b) the Nicky Henderson yard freely acknowledge that their horses are a gallop or so short this season, in which case he looks a shoe in to improve dramatically for the race.

Looking back through my racing videos, all we can say about Al Ferof is that he proved he still has all four legs in an exercise canter to see off French Opera at Ascot, picking up over £28,000 in the process (I’m in the wrong job!), but it was good to see him back and with nothing coming out of the Paul Nicholls (pictured) yard to suggest he came back anything less than sound, we can look forward to seeing him campaigned at the top races this season though where he goers to avoid Sprinter Sacre is open to question? Why the bookmakers starting slashing prices about Annie Power for the Champion Hurdle after the mare had kept her unbeaten record at Ascot is totally beyond me and in my opinion, an attempt to attract mug money. She took an age to get going over the two and a half miles on Saturday and lacks the pace to take on the best over two miles and may be better off stepping up to three miles where the division is a lot weaker barring the anticipated return of Big Bucks of course.

For those looking even longer term (with all it’s inherent risks), it seems that Donald McCain is pretty sweet on the chances of Sydney Paget for the Welsh National, assuming he get the soft ground he needs, which seems pretty likely! He did win as he liked at Haydock and 10/1 is a tempter but the six year old is pretty inexperienced with just the eight races over fences (and a point to point), and I may wait to see where Ron’s figures point on the day?

Writing about the past is rewarding enough but predicting the future is a little more challenging (or horrifying sometimes), and this weekend is no different. Newbury and Newcastle stand out if its class racing you are after, though as is oft the case, I appear to be out of tune with the rest of the racing press! Two horses will do for me this weekend, and My Tent Or Yours will not be one of them! Yes he is short in the Champion Hurdle getting and yes he is a class act, but odds on for anything having its seasonal debut for the Nicky Henderson yard is financial suicide if latest results are repeated, and I suggest sitting back and enjoying the Fighting fifth at 2.05pm without opening your wallet, just in case. Going back in time, I may well have a little each way interest in Five In A Row in the 1.05pm when the tissue suggests a double figure price about the son of Blueprint. A lightly raced five year old, all we can say is he won a three mile point to point at Toomebridge in Ireland and was then seen taking a bumper over two miles and a furlong at Carlisle on his British debut for trainer Brian Ellison, hacking up by nine lengths. Personally, I am quite taken with a horse who has the speed to win a bumper and the stamina to go pointing, and the next stop is his hurdling debut this afternoon. The two and three quarter mile trip should be ideal as are the eight runners as things stand (meaning we get paid each way one two three), and as we never know how good a horse is until they get beaten, I simply can’t resist an each way punt today.

My other bet is even riskier as I am again making the mistake of listening to a trainer first and then following it up via the form book – step forward Imperial Commander in the Hennessy at 3.00pm from Newbury. The one time Gold Cup winner is trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies who reports him to be as well as ever, in which case a handicap rating of 153 is remarkably generous. He has certainly had more than hos fair share of problems which has restricted his racecourse appearances, but has he really gone so far backwards is the big question we need to answer? Rated 185 at his best (after winning at Cheltenham), last season saw just the two appearances when runner up to Cape Tribulation at Cheltenham in the Argento Chase and when pulled up in the Grand National at Aintree (like half the field), but if we perhaps naively ignore both runs (he would be entitled to need the first after close to two years off the track and the National is not like any other race), then he is [possibly thrown in here, and although I really wish the yard were in better form, I promised myself I would back him each way here – so I will!

Selections this week

Five In A Row (each way) 1.05pm Newcastle Saturday

Imperial Commander (each way) 3.00pm Newbury Saturday

Horses to follow:

New look shaken up horses to follow list (new addition below)!

Jumps:

Rolling Star – a well-regarded young hurdler who won with any amount in hand at Haydock and seems certain to come on again for the run as per the Henderson yard this season

***No entries at present***

African Gold – a classy hurdler expected to be even better over fences, he rather let the side down on his chasing debut but is I am assured far better than that – he will win races over fences.

***No entries at present***

Opera Og – hopefully well handicapped off a rating of 117 (when last seen), the seven year old looked all over the winner at Bangor before fading badly to finish third. The lack of a run was clearly his undoing and with that run under his belt he should win next time out provided connections keep their sites lowered to a sensible level.

***Entered 1.20pm Newbury Saturday***

Champagne Fever – on target at home for the Arkle Chase, held in the highest regard and schooling well for Willie Mullins, likely to have Ruby Walsh in the saddle, what more can a punter ask for?

***No entries at present***

Sire De Grugy – won as he pleased on his return and sure to improve considerably for the race for Sussex trainer and ex jockey Gary Moore.

***No entries at present ***

Big Casino – now with Nigel Twiston-Davies and looks well handicapped over hurdles – will be even better long term over fences. Badly handicapped (in my opinion) over hurdles and will be better back in novice company under a penalty.

***No entries at present ***

Flat:

Mutakayyef – trained by William Haggas I had a quandary this week – do I or don’t I back the son of Sea The Stars? As with all the stable juveniles he was a shoe in to improve for the run but he is spoken of in glowing terms by gallop watchers in Newmarket. Fact is he ran as expected – slowly away, green as grass, and hampered as well, he will learn plenty from the experience and can be ignored at your peril.

***No current entries***

Freemason – a once raced juvenile owned by Highclere Thoroughbred Racing – Harbinger (a posh syndicate), he cost a whopping 150,000 Guineas so ought to be half decent – word is he is all that and more, so one to stay on the right side of.

***No current entries (unless you include the 2014 Derby!***

Idea – once raced two year old trained by Sir Michael Stoute and said to be flying on the gallops. Won after a poor run at Windsor when last seen looking as green as grass and very much one to keep on the right side of – originally nominated by a post racing reader!

***No current entries***

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