No selections yesterday – HOOF IT was seriously considered but subsequently passed-over and in the event was withdrawn as a non-runner about 40 mins before the off. As a result of that withdrawal, I went back to look at the race as the complexion of it had changed, and if you read yesterday’s blog you will see I mentioned Tombi and FLIPANDO in the narrative. With Hoof It out of the race, the balance fell towards Flipando being a prominent runner who stays a mile at good pace, never mind a stiff 6-furlong trip. I took the 8/1 available and never had a moments doubt. As I wrote after the race (see yesterday’s comments) this is precisely why I put detail into the narrative of the blog – so that if the race complexion changes (due to a non-runner or a going change) then you have some information to fall back on and take advantage.
The Pontefract Marathon went to rank (and I mean rank) outsider Spruzzo who won at an SP of 100/1, but was 263.0 on Betfair – unbelievable odds. As I expected, the fav Descaro did not fulfil his potential to stay the trip and found nothing in the final 2-furlongs to be 3rd.
Today we have 2 Flat (turf) meetings at Epsom and Newcastle, a Jumps meeting at Hereford and a couple of AW meetings at Southwell and Kempton. The Epsom meeting is the long-standing and historic Derby Trial meeting, but for racing buffs it’s the Great Metropolitan Handicap and City & Suburban Handicaps that are the feature, but the former is no longer run across the downs for over 2-miles – shame! The Newcastle meeting is dire – and I’ve no problem passing it over.
The opening race at Epsom is a 5-furlong Class 3 h’cap – blink, and you’ll miss it. This looks fairly open as the better horses have the worst of the draw. Bertoliver won the “Dash” here on Derby Day last summer, but he comes to the table only when he wants to. Archers Road looks the best of those drawn high, but I always think race-fitness is a bonus at this time of year. One that fits the bill is FRATELLINO who had a curtailed 3yo season, but ran a cracker last April at Sandown over 5f and a repeat of that run will see him break well, grab the rail and prove hard to catch. The 2 runs this season will have him in peak fitness and he led for a long way LTO, but he does not stay 6-furlong so he was never going to win that race. At 16/1 he’s a “back-to-lay” opportunity at least.
In the Great Metropolitan at 2:35, I’m happy to oppose the fav Sunny Game given what he’s shown on the track. HARLESTONE TIMES was the morning fav and he’s now 6/1 due to the market move on Sunny Game and that makes him value in my book. He gets the trip, will handle the going and improved immensely at the back-end of last season. Another I like is Dynamic Drive, but as he’s also entered for the Chester Cup, this may be being used as a prep race for him.
The City & Suburban at 3:45 is dominated by John Gosden’s Taqleed (have just learned that Taqleed is a non-runner) and Beachfire, but I marked out INGLEBY SPIRIT as a well-handicapped horse after his LTO win when he made all at Pontefract. He’s up 7lb for that but comes here in the form of his life and fit as a butchers dog. Now that Taqleed is out, odds of 9/1 on INGLEBY SPIRIT look more than fair value for this. Yes, he was well beaten by Beachfire last July at Goodwood on GF over 10f, and on 5lb better terms than he has today too – but, he’s got his act together since then and I feel he’s a different horse than then. However, he will be sharing the lead with Opera Gal and that may well set this race up for a finisher from off the pace – Such as Beachfire or SIRVINO.
So, do we have a wager?
Despite having a winner in a 6f race yesterday, I am not a fan of 5-furlong sprints, so I cannot recommend a wager on a 16/1 chance in a 5f race at Epsom were so much ground can be lost at the start by a bump or missing the break. Personally, I’ll be having £5 eachway on him and maybe another wager on Betfair as a ‘back-to-lay’ with my lay set before the off at 4.10 – if successful, that will return over 300% on my stake. The City & Suburban looks too tricky to fathom, so no wager in this. For me, it’s HARLESTONE TIMES at 6/1 (tho’ he’s 13/2 with Sportingodds, I’ve heard complaints that punters can never get more than £10 on).
Epsom 2:35, HARLESTONE TIMES, 1pt win @ 6/1 (Vic Chandler, best odds guaranteed)
Total = 1pt staked
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