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Saturday 24 September 2016

When Saturday comes...

When Saturday comes, the tough go racing, and this Saturday brings us the first decent weekend jumps meeting of the new season, with Market Rasen staging a couple of "Listed" races - one over hurdles and one over fences. I am a big fan of this meeting and, last year, I managed to advise the 9/2 winner of the chase handicap - Oscar Rock. 

The year before (2014) I thought the winner was going to be Fox Appeal as he jumped the 2nd-last fence.  Unfortunately, he found nothing when asked the question. Fox Appeal goes for the race again but off an 8lb lower rating of OR143 - will that swing the pendulum in his favour?  He won NTO at Kempton over 2m4f & 110yards, dead-heating with Theatre Guide (who won the Betbright Chase at Kempton last February) and with Annacotty, no less, back in 3rd btn 5-lengths.  Since then, Fox Appeal has been raced mainly over trips around 3-mile - he ran a cracker when 3rd at Ascot on 31Oct16 behind Pendra and Double Ross, but I think this trip is his best s he's never looked to be a true 3-mile chaser.  The worry is that he usually comes on a bit for his seasonal debut, but he's sure to be thereabouts.
Fox Appeal is 11/2 with William Hill.

Another horse I'm considering for the race is the 6yo Ballykan, who has won his last two chase races during the summer. He showed last February when 4th to Theatre Guide in the Betbright Chase that staying 3-mile is within his scope, but his latest couple of wins have come over 2m4f and this trip of 2m5f could well see him at his best. He's running off OR141 which is only 4lb above his latest wining mark.
Ballykan is 7/1 with Bet365, Betfred and BetVictor. 

When Ballykan won LTO he had Cernunnos behind him that day, but they meet on different terms in this, with Cernunnos 6lb better-off. That race could well have prepped Cernunnos perfectly for this and the trip and ground should suit, although it may be a bit too lively for him (his only chase win came on soft ground at Leicester). Cernunnos is due a change of luck after taking a hefty bump at the final fence LTO, and falling when disputing the lead the time before that. He also swerved the Cheltenham Festival last March to go to Kempton on the 19th March where he unfortunately met a decent horse in Portway Flyer who is now rated 16lb higher. Will that bit of luck come today?  
Cernunnos is 14/1 generally, which looks tremendous eachway value.

Considering that the ground will likely be riding on the quicker side of "good" as there's been little rain over the past few days, my opinion of the others in the race:-

Croco Bay needs to prove he stays this trip.
Presenting Arms would prefer some give in the ground (last 4 wins on ground with "soft" in description).
Father Edward won his debut for David Pipe, but he's up 13lb for that win and I think this horse wants 3-mile-plus, plus softer ground.
Seefood is another who possibly wants 3-mile and softer ground.
Roman Flight looks like he wants a trip under 2m2f to show his best.
Wadswick Flight meets Ballykan on 6lb worse terms that when they met last month and, though he won NTO at Cartmel on 29th August, I doubt he's found the improvement to beat Ballykan.
Princeton Royale is a hard one to assess with just 3 chase races and he only beat one rival LTO.  However, he is a winner at 3-miles over hurdles and that suggests he wants further than this trip of 2m5f.
Vintage Vinnie won a hurdle race easily earlier this month but he likes to get his own way and I can't see that happening in this race; plus he needs to find some improvement to justify his OR129 rating.
Anteros was beaten by Princeton Royale LTO and I can't see him figuring in this.

For me, it's difficult to split BALLYKAN and CERNUNNOS with the 6lb-pull to the latter, although the ground is more in favour of BALLYKAN and the odds of 7/1 look excellent as I expected him to be the 7/2 fav. Even so, I would not put anyone off having a small eachway wager (or certainly place-only on the exchanges) at 14/1 on CERNUNNOS

Market Rasen 3:10 BALLYKAN; £5 eachway and £5 win @ 7/1 (quarter-odds a place 1,2,3)
Total staked = £15

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