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Richard Hoiles: 5 selections from one of my favourite weekends

01 Mar | BY Richard Hoiles | MIN READ TIME |
Richard Hoiles: 5 selections from one of my favourite weekends

The racing broadcaster offers up five Saturday selections, including three at Kelso, as well as his usual list of Jockeys For Courses.

This is one of the best weekends of the year, with a visit to one of my favourite tracks, Kelso, on the agenda as the base for ITV coverage, which – weather permitting – spans three tracks and nine races.

A go-ahead track, Kelso could well lay claim to being ahead of the curve as the rebranding of Morebattle Hurdle Day has been a great success, and even included the word Premier in a couple of race titles well before Premierisation was even a thing.

From 2010 until conditions were changed in 2019, the Morebattle had only once attracted more than six runners, had five favourites go off shorter than 2/5 and was probably best known for the defeat of one of those, Zaynar, at 1/14 in 2010.

In 2021, the race was changed to a handicap coupled with a hefty bonus for any horse that followed up winning the Morebattle with a win at the Cheltenham Festival that season. A field of 14 lined up for that first renewal and the winner, The Shunter, landed the bonus as well when rather unconventionally following up over fences in the Plate at the Festival.

Far from being perturbed, the course used that publicity to good effect and once again a large field will line up in pursuit of a prize of over £60,000, which compares favourably with some of its Cheltenham counterparts.

Clearly it is a wide open race with a maximum field of 18 at the time of writing, and while this represents a step up in grade for BLACK HAWK EAGLE / (14:50 Kelso) he is a progressive hurdler who is still relatively unexposed for the yard of Kerry Lee. After looking in need of the run on his debut for the stable in November, he notched back-to-back wins at Wincanton and Hereford, which has left the handicapper chasing his tail. A rise of six to 122 does not look harsh and even though he is up against better rivals here his strong travelling style should suit what is a pretty sharp hurdles track.

The Premier Chase at 15:25 features Monbeg Genius up against the admirable Aye Right. The former has been caught up the in Michelle Mone and Doug Barrowman PPE asset freezing but was recently cleared to run by the BHA. His third to Corach Rambler and Fastorslow at last year’s Festival and his Coral Gold Cup third give him a leading chance. The market has it about right, but it can serve as a National trial for one of the few plausible UK runners to have a chance at Aintree.

A horse that has had a remarkable season is Phil Kirby’s SPECIAL RATE / (16:00 Kelso), who has won seven of his last eight starts mixing and matching hurdling and chasing. He has been very well placed, never facing more than seven rivals, but looks to have been found another good opening here. Left alone when his sole rival fell last time, his propensity to idle in front means it is difficult for the handicapper to fully assess his ability and the race his main rival Imperial Bede won last time at Southwell looked to rather fall apart.

The Opening Show cameras will be at the yard of Sandy Thomson as part of the programme, and the stable can land the spoils in the finale with CEDAR HILL / (17:10 Kelso). He should be suited by sitting off what looks a potentially strong pace and has drop ped below the mark of his course and distance win back in September. Ryan Mania has an excellent record at the track (see Jockeys For Courses below) and the less rain that falls on Friday the better his chances.

ARQOOB / (14:05 Doncaster) was a useful Flat horse and his third at Ascot last time signalled a significant upturn in the fortunes of Lucy Wadham’s stable. A losing run of 25 had been ended by For Gina at Fakenham the previous day, and since Arqoob the yard have had a further three winners from just eight runners.

Away from the main action, save a bit for BUNGLE BAY / (20:00 Wolverhampton). Having identified him as a decent bet at the five-day stage, drawing stall 12 was a bit of a gut wrencher, but he sneaks into this Classified Stakes grade for the first time and looks to have a leading chance on either of his last two efforts. As long as the promising Joe Leavy can avoid being caught wide, he is a leading player.

STABLE TRACKER HORSES

There are no stable tracker horses running on Saturday. There are weekly updates to the list, along with a review of any meetings I have attended during the week, usually on a Tuesday or Wednesday. You can read the latest update here.

JOCKEYS FOR COURSES

Our weekly list of riders in action at tracks where they have a particularly good career record. A reminder of the Actual/Expected (A/E) importance. It shows the actual number of winners ridden as a ratio of the number of winners that should have been ridden based on prices they are sent off.

If a jockey rides 10 even-money shots and five win, then the ratio would be a par 1.00 (5/5). If they rode six winners, then it would be six divided by five giving 1.2 (20% over achievement) and if four then 0.8 (20% under achievement). This therefore factors in the quality of their rides according to the market on the off.

DONCASTER – Theo Gillard (8/33, A/E 2.65)
KELSO – Ryan Mania (69/411, A/E 1.37)
WOLVERHAMPTON – Rossa Ryan (136/693, A/E 1.27)

COLUMN PERFORMANCE 2024

Split into the three component parts along with a total, and also using the Actual/Expected metric as a better performance indicator.

Selections: 4/5.37, A/E 0.74
Jockeys For Courses: 10/11.42, A/E 0.88
Stable Tracker: 5/4.02, A/E 1.24
Overall: 19/20.81, A/E 0.91

Visit Betway’s horse racing betting page.

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Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.

Richard Hoiles

Richard Hoiles

Richard is a horse racing broadcaster and commentator who has been involved in the sport since 1992.