The racing broadcaster has four fancies at Newbury, provided it survives the weather, as well as his regular list of jockeys to watch.
December has heralded in winter, and it is quite possible that, with this week being a break for the Flat jockeys, racing will face a rare blank Saturday.
This is far from ideal in terms of TV coverage and contribution to racing’s finances. It is never easy to predict the climate these days, but hopefully the next well-deserved break can be scheduled a little earlier after the close of the turf Flat season.
With the introduction of Premier meetings just around the corner, it also makes me revisit something I wrote last year about the wisdom of scheduling two-day cards on Friday/Saturday as opposed to Saturday/Sunday. That time it was when the ground dried significantly during racing at Ascot on the Friday and, as it was then not possible to water, the feature races on the following, bigger day were torpedoed by non-runners. Constitution Hill came out of the Coral Hurdle and the 1965 Chase was left as a match.
This time around, racing on the Friday at Newbury opens up the ground and also forces the lifting of covers which then potentially can’t be laid back down in time to avoid frost penetration after racing. If this meeting had been a Saturday and Sunday, then the main card would possibly survive and, if it didn’t, it would be easy to add the Coral Gold Cup to the following day. As it stands, if it is lost, then it is tricky to find a suitable fall-back, at least left-handed and over 3m 2f, other than Cheltenham in a fortnight where it would be getting close to the numerous Christmas options.
With Premierisation looking to boost Sunday cards overall, what better way than to move these Friday cards to Sundays on a day where more people can attend? At present Fridays are more popular with courses because they attract more corporate guests but, if one of racing’s longer-term commitments is to attract younger racegoers, then surely preference should be given to a day when they are far more likely to be able to attend?
There is really healthy turnout for the Coral Gold Cup (14:50) at Newbury where, despite the disappointing return, it is worth giving MONBEG GENIUS 13/2 another chance. He was very weak in the market at Ascot before a rare mistake five out put paid to his chances, but his Festival third to Corach Rambler and Fastorslow continues to mark him as a major player. Once again, the appearance of a highly-rated horse in a handicap, this time Ahoy Senor, gives him a good racing weight and he was among those on display at the gallops morning where connections appeared happy with his preparation (aren’t they always!).
The aptly named OFF TO A FLYER (13:40) was nearly added to the Stable Tracker after being hampered at Cheltenham last time. That run should bring him on and he can hopefully build on his end-of-season success at Ayr, form which has worked out quite well with the two horses that chased him home that day both winning next time out.
UNDER CONTROL 11/8 was another to appear at the gallops morning at the track 10 days ago when the Gerry Feilden (14:14) was mentioned as her objective. This intermediate hurdle has been used by the stable in the past with Epatante and is the ideal stepping stone for horses coming out of their novice year. She won a valuable handicap at Sandown when last seen and the form was franked by runner up Iberico Lord winning the Greatwood. There is a decent mares’ programme for her to tap into as the season progresses.
MASTER CHEWY 6/4 can continue his progress over fences in the finale (15:25) where a strong pace can play into the hands of those ridden more quietly. He looks like making into a better chaser than hurdler and the omission of the fences up the home straight at Aintree last time was not in his favour. Real Stone boosted the form with his demolition of the field at Haydock last weekend and, if ridden patiently, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge can get back to winning ways.
Last week I highlighted Tom Lacey as a yard that was emerging from a quiet spell and he obliged with a double the following day. This week, it is the yard of Sandy Thomson that is worth keeping on the right side of in the next few weeks with several entries to keep an eye on over the next few days. Blue Baloo ended a losing sequence of 23 just over a week ago, Defence Witness won the following day at Catterick in a decent-looking bumper and a gamble on Red Ned just went astray at Southwell where the horse lost on the nod.
JOCKEYS FOR COURSES
It’s uncertain how many of these meetings will take place but, if they do, then here’s our list of jockeys with good career records at the various tracks:
- Doncaster – Paddy Brennan (31/144, 1.42 actual/expected ratio)
- Newbury – Charlie Deutsch (11/47, 1.62 A/E)
- Fairyhouse – Mikey O’Sullivan (10/59, 1.70 A/E)
OFF TO A FLYER 7/1 (Newbury, 13:40)
UNDER CONTROL 11/8 (Newbury, 14:15)
MONBEG GENIUS 13/2 (Newbury, 14:40)
MASTER CHEWY 6/4 (Newbury, 15:25)
Visit Betway’s horse racing betting page.