If you are at Sandown on Friday, come along early, as we will be recording Racing Only Bettor live from the track in the Esher Hall at 11:30, looking ahead to the weekend action.
All abuse roundly welcomed!
We will also be touching on Friday’s racing too I imagine, but in truth I found the card very tricky and definitely one for small stakes. However, I did surprise myself by eking out three wagers, so bear with me.
Bob is certainly not a no-hoper
I will come back to the two Racing TV races in a bit, but let’s start with the first of the four ITV races on the card, and the seven-runner 2m4f10yd novices’ handicap chase at 13:50 that kicks off the terrestrial action.
By the way, I am operating on the assumption on good to soft ground while writing this preview.
The ITV opener looks a trappy, nasty little handicap in truth, hamstrung further by attracting one shy of the eight needed for 1,2,3 each-way betting, but Bobehopeornohope interested me most of the septet.
He has clearly had his problems since his brace of novices’ hurdle wins last year but, following a summer break and a wind op, he shaped okay, with his rider not going for everything late on, when third on his reappearance over 3m at Exeter. So being dropped 2lb for that run was a bonus, I feel.
His three wins in points and hurdles have come when he has forced the pace, so, having sat off it at Exeter, I think we can expect a more aggressive ride from David Bass here, especially as the horse steps down in trip.
I nearly talked myself into a win-only bet on him at around 6/1 – I certainly would not lay that price myself, and the Sportsbook’s opening 13/2 didn’t last – but there are at least two other potential pace rivals in here and I could quite easily make a cogent enough case for his six rivals as well, so I will pass.
Lossie brings the best form to the table
A disappointing turn out of only five for the £50k Grade 2 novices’ hurdle at 14:25, but all are last-time-out winners, and three already have shown a pretty high level of ability.
I think Lossiemouth brings the best form to the table – and I am a big fan of horses coming back into novice company after doing the business in handicaps – but I also accept Brave Kingdom did look very good when making all in a smart time at Chepstow, and he was always going to be put in as the short-priced favourite (the first firm up made him an evens poke, while he was also initially 5/6 in a place).
I was tempted to leave this race alone as there are obviously many unknowns when dealing with lightly-raced, promising sorts but the favourite is underpriced – and he could well be taken on for the lead by the likes of Fair Frontieres and Harper’s Brook – and I came to the conclusion that Lossiemouth has no right to be as big as 5/1.
Back him at 6.05/1 or bigger. He opened up as big as 7s with one firm on Wednesday, and that was huge. Any 4/1 or bigger is fine.
As I have said, I am pretty sure his easy Ffos Las handicap win off 123, from two horses who went into the race on the back of successes, is the best form on offer here, and I am willing to take a chance that he doesn’t find the expected better ground (his recent wins have come on soft) too much of a hindrance.
And, in any case, I always find the hurdles course at Sandown rides incredibly testing whatever the official description, so his proven stamina over further could be another plus.
Front two in betting deserve to be there
I am not going to whittle on about the 1m7f110yd handicap chase at 15:00 as I found it far too tricky to solve, with six potential pace-setters in the contest and none of the field appealed at their respective odds.
All roads led to Stoner’s Choice and Pileon for me in the Pertemps qualifier at 15:35, but it was a touch disappointing, if inevitable, to see them installed towards the top of betting. The Betfair Sportsbook odds-compilers clearly fancied them too, going 4/1 and 5/1 respectively.
The case for them is simple. Both have been eased a charitable 1lb after good, qualifying efforts last time, and they just look pretty solid in a race in which I didn’t fancy many at all
The one nagging doubt I have about them is their stamina for an extended 2m7f around here – and I am aware Pileon’s fourth came over 3m at Aintree last time – but I am willing to side with them regardless given my lukewarm stance towards the opposition.
I am going to do something I don’t normally do, and suggest a small, cheeky reverse forecast on the pair with the Betfair Sportsbook, or maybe an Exacta if you bet on the Tote option on the exchange. Choose your own angle there; I may do both.
Before I get on to the three ITV races at Exeter, I will put in a good word for Valadom in the opener at 12:45 as I think he could get his own way out in front, but his poor reappearance record does dampen enthusiasm somewhat, and I can’t recommend him as a result.
Words has Many things going for him
I do like the look of Many Words in the juvenile hurdle at 13:15 though, despite the fact that he faces two winners and a couple of 75+-rated recruits from the Flat.
He gets 5lb from those two winners though and, although he was no great shakes on the Flat himself (rated 63 at his best in Ireland, where all his best form came on decent ground, ranging from good to firm to yielding) I thought he shaped a lot better than his beaten distance suggests on his hurdling debut at Ludlow, travelling well for a long way, on his first start since August.
He is a half-brother to a couple of hurdles winners and this stiffer 2m could suit a horse with 1m4f/1m6f form on the Flat in Ireland. That Ludlow run hinted at much better to come. Hopefully, anyway.
Going outside of my ITV brief, I reckon he is worth a bet at 15.014/1 or bigger.
I would definitely be looking for double-figures, minimum, which should hopefully be achievable with the first firm up at 12.45pm on Thursday making him a 25/1 chance. Very early days, betting-wise, obviously, though, and that 25s was cut into 16s.
The form of that Ludlow race is working out well, too. The winner followed up at Market Rasen on Thursday afternoon, the third ran well in defeat next time, and the fifth won at Fontwell subsequently.
Dancing can leave rivals in his Shadow
Over at Exeter, I predictably have no betting opinion in the six-runner novices’ chase at 14:05 – I don’t know why, but these races just don’t cut it for me – and I have no issue with Gunsight Ridge heading the betting at around 3/1 in the 2m3f handicap chase at 14:40.
In fact, the latter is a fair enough price, but I can stop short of tipping him.
Talking of punchy prices being available in the marketplace early on Wednesday, I was mightily surprised to see Dancing Shadow as big as 14s in a place, with 12s also available, in the staying handicap chase at 15:15. They predictably disappeared and I am now left with an option of 8s, each-way, four places, with the Sportsbook (though I suspect you may get even more places later) or win-only on the exchange.
I thought he was bang solid and I am happy to tip him at 11.010/1 or bigger, win-only, on the exchange.
Okay, at 12yo, he is clearly vulnerable to an improving youngster – Poppa Poutine is just five, while market leader Young Offender is six, along with Monty Guiry – but what you want around 3m6f at Exeter is a hardy horse proven in the conditions and Dancing Shadow fulfils every criteria, age aside.
He comes here in great nick after a second off this mark over 3m at Sandown last time, he has put up many redoubtable efforts at this course in the past – including when a length third in this race last season, again off this mark – and he is one of few in the field proven over this extreme trip.
Indeed, aside from his third in this race last year, he can also boast a second in a Devon National over track and trip, and he can handle good and soft ground alike (currently good to soft).
The stable form is a worry – their last winner came in May, but they haven’t had that many runners since to be fair – but the horse himself comes here in fine fettle, with much to recommend him, so that will do for me.