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Saturday, 29 October 2016
Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby
Ascot hosts a tremendous meeting and the opening race is a cracker of a novice chase handicap. I have a soft-spot for Paul Nicholls San Benedeto, but this ground will be too quick for him. Another on my alert list is Ballybolley, and he won LTO just 10-days ago and looks well handicapped. With chasing debutant Crimson Ark best watched today, and Master Dee (another LTO winner) possibly wanting further than this 2m3f, Ballybolley @ 4/1 in this 6-runner race may be the best option.
The 2:25pm 2-mile handicap (Listed) chase looks wide-open to me. The market leaders Yorkist and Pearls Legend both look vulnerable and weighted to their best, as such there is no value in their odds. There is only one runner from my alert list in the race, and that is Germany Calling. This horse won LTO over 2m4f but he does have the speed for this trip and will love the ground. His trainer Charlie Longsdon did us a favour last weekend with Coologue, and also sent Pendra to win on this card last year (and we were on). At odds of 10/1 Germany Calling looks an interesting eachway wager (quarter-odds 1,2,3).
I will give the handicap hurdle a miss and move on to the 3:35pm Sodexo (Grade 3) Class 1, 3-mile handicap chase revolves around the early fav Saphir Du Rheu: was his win at Aintree back in April 2015 as good as it looked? If it was, then he's home and hosed; if (as I suspect) it wasn't then his supporters will be in for a rude shock.
Going right-handed at speed in these top handicap chases takes some doing and, if a horse cannot handle the bends, any weakness will soon be exposed. It would seem that after the success of Pendra last year (readers of the blog were on Pendra @ 8/1) trainers have decided that a decent 2m5f horse (like Pendra) is best suited to this sharp 3-mile at Ascot. However, this year there are a couple of "proper" 3-milers in the race who may upset that particular apple cart.
I have several of these runners on my alert list: including Tea For Two, A Good Skin, Antony and Junction Fourteen. The Emma Lavelle trained Junction Fourteen is an interesting horse over this trip as it could expose any stamina limitations. He's won 3 of his 6 chase races, 2 of which were going RH and 2 were on "good" ground including when smashing a decent field at Sandown over 2m4f in April this year. He made-all that day and he goes onto my shortlist - it will take a good one to beat him. He holds Antony in my book, and Antony will find easier targets than this. On Friday eve he was 20/1 - odds which were an insult - and I I expect him to be in the 1st-3 home, his odds are tumbling. I like A Good Skin, he did us proud a few weeks back when 3rd on his seasonal debut, and he always runs a good race. I feel I know him well, and therefore I think he wants just a couple of furlongs more than this trip, which is actually 40 yards short of 3-mile. That said, we know he goes well RH and he enjoys a strong pace, he just hasn't shown any "zip" recently at the business end in his races to win.
I thought Tea For Two was a potential RSA winner when he won at Kempton on Boxing Day (the race formerly known as the "Feltham") which was only his 2nd chase race. He ran again after that when 3rd at Sandown over 2m4f, a trip that was inadequate. He looks unexposed, and possessing huge potential, and I think he's at leave 5lb well-in running off OR153. He does have to carry 11st 12lb and give weight to every other runner in this handicap but if he's a potential Gold Cup winner then he can do it. I think a strong run race will expose the stamina limitations of Voix D'eau who is another from my alert list. I'm expecting Tea For Two to win today and the 5/1 available looks generous for a horse with his potential. However, I also cannot ignore the 18/1 (Stan James) available on Junction Fourteen and I advised those on my email list to take that eachway last night (Corals go 20/1).
At Wetherby we have the feature Class 1 (Grade 2) Charlie Hall Chase over 3-miles. Can Cue Card resume where he left off and win? Maybe he can but, at odds-on of 8/11 he will not be carrying my money. I advised those on my email list on Wednesday to take the 16/1 about VIRAK for this, and he's 11/1 now. Why VIRAK - because at the weights he is the 2nd best in the race behind Cue Card, for instance he is 2lb better than Blaklion on official ratings, and carries 5lb less than him. If Blaklion is a 6/1 chance, surely VIRAK should be shorter odds as he holds a 7lb advantage over Blaklion? The trip will be perfect, as will a strong pace. There is a debate over the ground, but if Nicholls runs the horse then he should cope.
There is also a meeting at Ayr where there is a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m4f at 4:20pm. Throthehatch always held potential to be a 125+chaser once he sorted his jumping out, and he will go well off OR116. However, FINAL ASSAULT looks very well handicapped on the best of his form from this time last year, and the horse loves racing at Ayr. This trip and ground is perfect for him and at 7/1 in this 6-runner race, FINAL ASSAULT should be in the 1st-2. If we are ahead at this stage of the afternoon, I will be having a wager on FINAL ASSAULT.
Very tricky making selections today as I don't want to give readers a hand-full of wagers.
Wetherby 3:20pm, VIRAK, £5 eachway @ 11/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a placed 1,2)
Note: I will measure against the 16/1 I advised taking on Wednesday
Ascot 3:35pm TEA FOR TWO, £5 each way @ 5/1 (available generally, quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Ascot 3:35pm JUNCTION FOURTEEN, £5 eachway @ 18/1 (Stan James, Bet Victor and Coral)
Total staked £30