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Saturday, 21 November 2015

Fortune favours the bold

Who could have predicted what happened yesterday with LOOSE CHIPS? Always thereabouts, jumped the last fence in front and opened-up a "winning" lead - and then he pulled himself up!  That was a winner in all but name - we were desparately unlucky there; and the odds were good too.  It shows just what good value he was last week at Cheltenham in the Cross-Country chase (in which he fell early-on) when we were on him at 16/1.

Let's move on, and a top day of racing lies ahead of us, even is some of the races are not well supported by the trainers!  Haydock holds the day's feature race, but it that is very likely to go to the outright fav Siliviniaco Conti, and there is no value in that race - unless you want to take a chance on one of the others and hope the fav does not complete the race.

The Haydock meeting also holds one of the key handicap races of the season when considering the staying-chases, that is the Grade 3 "Fixed Brush" handicap hurdle over 2m7f. This is not a proper hurdle as the "fixed brush" type are larger obstacles which creates more of a "jumping" than hurdling action is required to take them. There is a horse in this race which has been off the track for 336-days and hasn't won a race since December 2012; BOLD SIR BRIAN has been on my alert list since November 2011 and he's only been prevented from becoming a top-class chaser by injury. At his peak he was a 160+ performer, so off OR130 in this he could be given a great opportunity, if he's fit to do himself justice and retains 85% of his ability.  He is only 9yo and the trip and ground will suit him - he's 33/1 but a paddock inspection is required.

The Class 2 handicap chase over 3-mile at 3:35pm looks very much more interesting, and there are 4 alert list runners in the race - all of whom look likely winners on paper!  No Planning has been a grand servant for the alert list, but I've always thought him vulnerable at 3-mile and (now the races have been remeasured) he's actually been winning over 2m7f. I much prefer his stablemate Straidnahanna and this 6yo looks well-handicapped on OR131.  Two-weeks ago, Royal Palladium only just failed to win the "Badger" Chase, and he will be well-prepared for this race by Venetia Williams.  I just think that he is meeting a stronger field in this race. Another on my alert list is Indian Castle who did followers of the blog proud when running 4th at Cheltenham last March in the 3-mile handicap chase on the opening day of the Festival. It is worth noting that Indian Castle beat Annacotty at Cheltenham over 2m5f in the novice handicap chase at the January meeting (always one of the best novice handicaps of the season) on heavy ground, and he's still only a 7yo.  Toby Lerone is fit from a hurdling win LTO, but I'm not confident he will last out this trip, tho' he will handle the ground. In my opinion OR140 for Vieux Lion Rouge is about 10lb too much on what he's shown in 2 novice chases. There is not much scope for Sun Cloud off OR138, though he will appreciate the soft ground.  I would not overlook Theatrical Star, as he loves a slog, but all his chase wins have come in races of less than 10 runners. He couldn't go the pace LTO and I'm expecting Royal Palladium to do the same again.  Finally, Firebird Flyer is a good yardstick, and on his day he's a good horse, but when he's not he can be very lacklustre. At the odds, my selection is between two: Straidnahanna at 11/2 (available generally) and Indian Castle at 12/1.

At Ascot, the soft ground will likely make the course very testing and, in the 2m1f Class 2 handicap chase at 3:15, the ground will be the key.  Four weeks ago, at the Cheltenham meeting, I made TURN OVER SIVOLA my selection of the day and he ran well - looking the most likely winner 2-out - but then ran out of puff on the run-in. He was prepared to run in the Paddy Power Gold Cup last week, but missed the cut-off - so he's come here instead, and trainer Alan King is very bullish about his chances in the Weekender. He needs a strong pace, and I think he will get it in this race and, having had a run, he should run much better than last time. The market leaders Cold March, Workbench and Fago will all go well, but none have the scope to find the improvement I'm expecting from Turn Over Sivola. He is 12/1 (William Hill) and those odds look huge to me as I'd have him at under 7/1.

Ascot 3:15pm - TURN OVER SIVOLA, £4 eachway @ 12/1 (available generally, Bet 365 go quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Haydock 3:35pm INDIAN CASTLE, £4 eachway @ 12/1 (available generally, 5th odds a place 1,2,3)
Haydock 3:35pm STRAIDNAHANNA; £5 win @ 11/2


Total Staked = £25

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