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Thursday 17 November 2016

Wayward Lad blog for Thursday 17th November '16

Reading the Weekender yesterday and looking at the racing to come, I was surprised that Smad Place isn't running in the Betfair Chase on Saturday and not waiting for the Hennessey Gold Cup in two-weeks time.

Yes, I know Smad Place won the Hennessey last year, but he's up 11lb in the handicap to OR166 and will almost certainly carry top-weight of 11st 12lb on 26th November.
Much as I would love to see him repeat that win, he is no Denman. However, 3-mile round Haydock looks perfect for him and it also looks like he retains his form of last season which would put him bang in there with a chance of winning on Saturday - if he were entered (he's not).
There's no way I could wager on Cue Card at 13/8 for the Betfair Chase after the way he ran LTO and, to be honest, I cannot see the winner of this race coming out of the Charlie Hall Chase run at Wetherby last month. In my opinion, Silviniaco Conti did not run particularly well in Ireland LTO and he will have to find plenty of improvement from that run to win on Saturday.  For me, the race hangs on two horses: Coneygree - if he is within 10lb of is best he wins this race; and Seeyouatmidnight - this horse has not stopped improving, stays forever, has speed, jumps like a stag; and I was very impressed the way he won his "match" with Bristol Du Mai on his seasonal debut. I reckon Seeyouatmidnight can run to 160+ over 3-miles and that would put him ahead of everything that has run this season apart from Menorah - in fact, I do not understand why Menorah is 20/1. My 1,2,3 for the Betfair Chase is Coneygree, from Seeyouatmidnight, with Menorah in 3rd.

The feature race at Ascot, the Stella Artois Chase over 2m5f could be an interesting play as Dodging Bullets, the current 9/4 fav, looks dodgy over this trip.  Trainer Paul Nicholls may have spoken of him as a possible King George (3-mile chase) horse, but he's not looked like staying much beyond 2-miles to me.  The Phil Hobbs trained Royal Regatta won over C&D last season, and this softer ground will be much more to his liking that when he ran LTO. Even so he will be unlikely to reverse the form with God's Own who is undoubtedly the class act in the race, at this trip, on known form. If (and it is a big if) Dodging Bullets stays this trip then he should win given the race conditions, but I do not think he will stay 2m5f.  A more likely danger to God's Own is the other entry from Phil Hobbs, Garde La Victoire. He has been running very well this autumn and looks an improved horse. The current odds of 10/1 look decent eachway value as he ticks a lot of boxes: is race fit, in form, and he has some top-class form in the book. He won't be far behind God's Own and could have enough class to nick it, as I don't have God's Own at OR166 in my book and I rate Garde La Victoire a tad better than OR154. 

My main focus will be on the chase handicaps and there are a couple of crackers at Haydock on Saturday, and I will be looking at then both in some depth over the next couple of days.

There are a couple of better grade hurdle races being run today, with a Class 2 handicap hurdle over 2m4f at Market Rasen. The interesting runner is Oscar Rock who long term readers will remember us being on when he last won - here at Market Rasen in Sept-15. His 3 subsequent runs last season were all indifferent, so I've no idea what sort of horse will turn up today, but he does wear blinkers for the first time over hurdles, and the handicapper has given his a great chance dropping him to OR140. Alan King sends Big Chief Benny and this one looks the most likely winner of the race to me. He never ran a bad race last season, and his rating of OR131 looks more than fair. The 4yo Duke Street comes here race-fit after a running 2nd last week, but he will need to step up significantly on that effort today in my opinion.  I was expecting Big Chief Benny to be the race-fav at around 9/4, so his current best-odds of 3/1 don't have much fat in them.  However, the bookies are taking no chances with Oscar Rock and if office punters make him shorter (he's currently100/30) we may see 7/2 or more about Big Chief Benny which would make him value.

No advised wager today, but there are several pointers for the more adventurous amongst you.

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