BDH Saturday Qualifiers: Mob-handed in search of Gold & Silver…

Will 38 years of Scottish hurt end with Jack Dexter capturing Gold?

A busy day in store for us on Saturday as we fire double barreled assaults upon both the Ayr Gold and Silver Cups!

As well as our 4 Ayr raiders we also have last weekend’s unlucky 2nd, STEPS, ‘stepping’ into Group company for the first time at Newbury.

Before all that, however, we have to deal with Fridays runners…

WAKING WARRIOR 2.20 Ayr

12th of 24. Pace was up his side. Average run. Never looked like landing a blow. Time to drop him from the squad. He was staying on at the end but to be honest I’m just not feeling it and I’m happy to drop WW from the squad.

TAWHID 4.50 Newbury

Winner! Job done! He won how I hoped/expected/how he should have. Soft ground is simply a must for him and Silvestre De Sousa is a massive bonus when he takes the ride. His place in the squad is safe, lets hope there are a couple more spots for him before the season is out.

Now onto Saturday’s action…

Saturday’s BDH runners…

BDH Runners:YEEOOW & THUNDERBALL 2.40 Ayr

First things first lets take a look at the pace map for this 27 runner sprint…

Ayr Silver Cup

Pace coming from all over the track, which is handy as we are berthed in Stall 1 (THUNDERBALL) and stall 21 (YEEOOW). If anything there is slightly more pace down the bottom end (low numbers) but there isn’t enough to make a definitive pre-race conclusion. On the pace angle we are good with both. With the pace map looking like this I’m very happy to be hedging our bets with 1 high and 1 low.

Let’s deal with our 2 runners individually….

THUNDERBALL – Ran a very sound race at Doncaster last week (3rd), only 3lbs shy of his career best on the figures, and the 2lb raise he receives for the run still leaves him 1lb below his highest ever winning mark; good.

My initial assessment of him was that we want 6 furlongs and Soft and that’s what we get here; doubly good.

A straight track was also a preferable condition for him and he also gets that here, the only real ‘reservation’ is that this is a race worth more than 20k to the winner, an area he is yet to prove he is totally up to. However, he meets everything else and with Queally remaining in the saddle (form figures of 016813 when riding the horse) I’m more than happy to take a punt at prices of 20-1+. Needless to say in a race of this many runners I will be covering him in an each-way capacity.

YEEOOW – Another that ran a solid 3rd at Doncaster last week, running 1lb below his career best whilst at the same time meeting with ground with cut in it for the first time. Joey Haynes gets the leg up here and his 5lb claim takes the horse down to a mark of 87, 3lbs below his highest ever winning mark.

Off the back of last weeks effort and with the claimer making things interesting I think we need to play our boy again here. Like Thunderball I’ll also take this lad in an each-way capacity.

I would often try and find something else to have on my side in a race with this many runners but to be honest nothing really stands out at me, well nothing that tempts me into a bet. I’ll let it roll and just go to war with our 2 BDH warriors.

BDH Runner: STEPS 3.30 Newbury

Clearly Roger Varian’s hand has been forced to a certain extent here by the consistency of his horse and another rise in the weights (up 3lbs to 104) has made the trainer look to Group contests to get his 5yo back in the winners enclosure. I initially suggested that I didn’t think he would be up to this level but his last run has made me rethink that opinion.

He gets his bare minimum 5f trip here (well bar 34 yards!) and also his favoured Soft ground. Andrea Atzeni back in the plate is also interesting as together they have an eye-catching record of 131585. This wouldn’t be the toughest Group 3 we have seen and with Steps in such rude health I reckon it’s worth taking an interest in him again here. There is plenty of 8-1 flying around so I’ll probably look to take him Each-Way if I can.

BDH Runners: JACK DEXTER & DUKE OF FIRENZE 3.50 Ayr

Huge field again so let’s first take a look at the pace map…

Ayr Gold Cup

Like the Silver Cup there does seem to be a decent enough spread of pace here although it may just be that it is low to middle that is the strongest zone with regards to the pace. That isn’t totally ideal for our pair, boxed in stall 22 (JACK DEXTER) & 20 (DUKE OF FIRENZE), but it isn’t catastrophic either. It does mean that I’ll probably be looking for some sort of cover bet from the bottom half though. We will get to that later.

Let’s deal with our 2 BDH runners individually first….

JACK DEXTER – 110 is a hefty mark to win any handicap from but Advanced won this race from a mark of 109 in 2007 so it can be done and JACK DEXTER is certainly a progressive and classy beast, as shown by his close 4th in the King’s Stand at Royal Ascot. The soft ground will be perfect (form of 11111) and even if it dries out to Good to Soft I wouldn’t be put off (form of 261). He has good track form (531 – including a very comfortable victory in last years Bronze Cup), Graham Lee knows him very well (1541101041), he runs well in 16+ runner fields (741110064) and runs well in September/October time (4111).

I see very little negatives for him and the only small worry I have is the draw. At current odds I’m definitely on and once again I will look to cover him each-way.

DUKE OF FIRENZE – Hmmm…Duke Of Firenze (DOF)…what to do with DOF. My feeling is that 6 furlongs on soft ground will not suit. He has always struck me as one that is more at home on the top of the ground and his 2 runs on ground softer than Good have not promised too much.

Ryan Moore doesn’t make the trip up for the ride although I must admit Cathy Gannon is an interesting booking. She has ridden once for Stoute in the past 5 seasons and that was a winner. Is this a handy spare ride or have they booked her especially? It’s probably the former and in any case it isn’t really enough to swing me into a solid punt.

He is a tasty price for sure but I think he is a tricky ride and I would probably rather have a jockey that has ridden him before taking the mount here. I would also rather it was Good or better ground. If the pace does end up being down low then there is also a chance he doesn’t get a tow into the contest and as he seems to enjoy coming through runners late on that could prove to be a bit of a problem.

All in all I just have a few too many questions about DOF today and personally I won’t be backing him here.

So that leaves us with JACK DEXTER going into battle in the ultra competitive 27 Ayr Gold Cup; time to look for a bit of back up me thinks!

I want 2 others on my side here and those are GABRIEL’S LAD from stall 13 and OUR JONATHAN from stall 12.

I ran the entire field through my extended trends analysis and only 1 runner passed all 15 trends, that was GABRIEL’S LAD. He is an improving sort who was only just pipped by our BDH runner Redvers last time out and he also has winning form on soft ground. His mark of 99 looks workable and he is one I want on my side.

OUR JONATHON won this race 2 years ago, is fantastically well handicapped (10lbs below last winning mark & 19lbs below his peak rating) and will love the ground. He missed the break last week in the Portland at Doncaster but still ran well enough in defeat without managing to get overly involved. There is plenty in his favour here and his odds are too tempting to ignore.

Summary of runners…

2.40 Ayr

THUNDERBALL – Bet Each-Way

YEEOOW – Bet Each-Way

3.30 Newbury

STEPS – Bet Each-Way

3.50 Ayr

JACK DEXTER – Bet Each-Way

DUKE OF FIRENZE – No Bet

Additional selections…

Each-Way on GABRIEL’S LAD & OUR JONATHON – 3.50 Ayr

These cavalry charge sprints are always tricky to nail (bloody tricky!) but I feel we go in with solid chances of collecting at least some each-way spoils, hopefully much much more.

Best of luck if you are getting involved

Ben (BDH)

p.s. We are fast approaching October so if you are looking to join the full NTF service for the 2013/14 National Hunt season then make sure you join the FREE list so that you are eligible for the discounted sign-up offer…

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Even if you are not looking to join the full service there are still plenty of FREE racing guides and betting systems for you to download, with more to follow as we reach the National Hunt season proper.

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BDH Weekend Review: My boot scootin’ baby is drivin’ me crazy…

Not sure what is worse. This Steps photo or the Steps photo (finish) from Saturday!!

We had 3 BDH runners at Doncaster last week and all 3 placed. With a bit more luck it could have been even better but we can’t complain…well maybe a bit about STEPS!! I mean come on! The least we deserved was a dead-heat!! Even trainer Roger Varian demanded to see the print!

Anyway there is nothing we can do about that agonizing 2nd placed finish so here are my proper thoughts (as opposed to my “what the f@*k happened there” thoughts!) on our Saturday BDH runner…

STEPS – 2.40 Doncaster

At the end of the day I said there was enough juice in his price (at time of writing) to get on each-way and he duly delivered that part of the bargain. That was his 3rd 2nd placed finish in a row but to be fair to him I don’t think he is un-genuine or quirky or a dodge-pot, far from it in fact, when you get beat by a pixel in a 22 runner-handicap it’s just the roll of the dice going against you.

He once again fired in a career best on the figures (by 5lbs) and we have to expect another rise in the weights for him. At the moment I’m not going to drop him from our squad, there is every reason to think he is still improving, however, I wait with bated breath to see exactly what punishment Mr Handicapper deals out to him. There are no immediate entries for him so we can let the dust settle on this result and see what comes out in the wash.

New Squad Member(s)…

There are none! I had a look at last weeks action but to be honest nothing stood out at me. I again half thought about adding MONSIEUR CHEVALIER to the team after his run in the Portland but in the end I kept him on the reserve squad.

Once the gates opened he essentially had no chance. For starters he missed the break and was instantly on the back foot and secondly he was caught on the wrong side. Five of the field stayed on the far side and the best finisher was Prodigality in 13th; they were too far away from the pace to make any impact. MONSIEUR CHEVALIER had to work his way onto the back of this small group but as the race developed he somehow found himself in no-mans land in the middle of the track and basically had nothing to aim at. He actually did wonders to finish only 8 lengths back in 15th  (2nd in his group) and it was noticeable that his jockey considerably eased off in the final furlong.

He is a horse I will keep an eye on and may back, without him officially being in the BDH attack squad.

We have the Ayr Gold Cup festival at the end of this week and there is a chance we go into the big race itself mob-handed, there are a few BDH runners entered and, interestingly, a few of our previous squad members who have already done their work for us.

Hopefully we have runners in the Bronze, Silver AND Gold Cup so that we don’t have all our BDH eggs in one basket!

NTF National Hunt Service… 

As most of you will be aware I will be opening the doors to my full NTF subscription service next month. I will be implementing some of the BDH methods into the NTF service this season, the NTF Handicap Sleepers is a new addition I’m particularly excited about.

Most of you reading this will already be on my free list but if you are not and you are looking to join my NTF subscription service I would advise you to join the FREE list sooner rather than later. This is the ONLY place you can get a discount to the NTF subscription service for the 2013/14 National Hunt season. (You also get a bundle of FREE guides when you join the FREE list, with more in the pipeline soon to be released).

Join the NTF/BDH FREE list today >>> NTF FREE list – Discounts and Free Guides available

Ben (BDH)

 

Ladbrokes St Leger: Dosage & Trends Analysis

The final domestic Classic rumbles into action today at Town Moor on day 4 of the 2013 St Leger Festival with the lung bursting St Leger taking centre stage at 3.50.

I have a full Dosage & Trends guide available for you later on in the Blog for the big one but first I’ll give you my thoughts on yesterday’s BDH runner as well looking at today’s BDH qualifier and some Portland Handicap analysis.

Let’s start with yesterdays BDH runners…

YEEOOW – 4.25 Doncaster

Finished 3rd, each-way money secured, handled the ground, I’m happy. The field split into 2 groups which didn’t really help our lad but he gave plenty of indications that he is still improving and he very much stays on the list after this run.

I’m hopeful he can land something for us before the season is out.

Now onto today’s action…

BDH Runner: STEPS 2.40 Doncaster – Portland Handicap

Ahh Steps…Steps…Steps. He probably should have won last time out and he again finds himself climbing the weights without winning. He is now 11lbs higher than his highest ever winning mark and 17lbs higher than his last winning mark. It’s starting to concern me for sure.

I would also slightly prefer him over a bare 5f rather this 5 & 1/2f.

On the plus side he has ground with cut in it which is a huge positive and he has winning form at Doncaster.

His hold up style of running should also be a bonus in a race that looks to hold plenty of pace up front.

He has fired in 2 career best’s on the figures on his last 2 starts so there is reason to believe he can overcome this mark.

Despite a couple of small reservations I’m happy to pitch in with him here today. The Varian yard are in bouncing form and with enough juice in the price to get on each-way I’m happy to have our BDH warrior STEPS on our side.

As is usual the case in race of this stature I’m also looking for another runner to carry my money. Let’s start by looking at the pace chart to see how the race is likely to shape up…

Portland 2013

To be honest the pace map doesn’t give us a great deal of help. The signs are that there is pace from all over the track so from this angle I can see no clear advantage to top, middle or bottom.

I would expect the field to split into at least 2 groups, with each group having solid front-runners at the head of affairs.

My next stop would usually be a quick delve into the trends but personally I don’t think this is a great race for that approach. I could fire up some trends without any problem but from past experience it wouldn’t be the strongest from the trends angle.

Instead I’ve had a look at the field from a handicapping perspective and picked out a clutch of runners that I have marked up as ‘well-in’ on old form, whether that is old handicap form or indeed old graded form.

That gave me the following shortlist…

MONSIEUR CHEVALIER

OUR JONATHAN

ANGELS WILL FALL

ANGELS WILL FALL has never struck me as one to enjoy a large field and she has been really struggling of late so she gets punted from that list fairly readily.

The other 2 are much more interesting to me…

OUR JONATHAN finds himself slipping to a very handy mark indeed. 2 years ago he won the Ayr Gold Cup quite comfortably off a mark of 105, today he runs off  97. We know he handles ground with cut in it, we know he handles large fields and we know he is classy on his day. He has also run some decent races at Donny without actually winning so his 0 from 6 track figures are a lot better than they first seem. At the odds available he is worthy of consideration.

MONSIEUR CHEVALIER is one that is very much of interest to me. I’ll let you into a little secret; he almost made the BDH squad after his last start. That was last weekend at Ascot behind our boy Redvers in what was only his 3rd ever handicap start. That race was over 7f and he made a serious move to hit the front around 2f out, however, as soon as he got there he smashed into his stamina wall and back-peddled rapidly.

It’s easy to forget he was once rated as high as 116 after a close 2nd in the 2011 Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot. This year he has been tried over 8f (x3) & 7f (x4) and only once over 6f. Admittedly he did run a sound race in 5th over 7f at Glorious Goodwood in the Lennox Stakes but apart from that every sinew of him looks like it has been crying out for a return to 6f, if not 5f.

I’m not put off by the fact he only ran 7 days ago as his form figures when returning within a week read -12- and his form figures when returning within 2 weeks read -121115050- he clearly has no problem with a quick return.

We know he has the speed for this trip, we know he handles the ground and with jockey Natasha Easton taking off 5lbs we can be pretty confident the mark of 91 (taking the claim into account) makes him an interesting proposition.

I’ll take STEPS (BDH Qualifier) and MONSIEUR CHEVALIER (BDH almost squad member) as my 2 bets in this valuable sprint and I’ll ponder over whether to include OUR JONATHAN in calculations as well.

Ladbrokes St Leger full Dosage & Trends Analysis

We move from the sprinting division to the staying division with one fell swoop and put the St Leger under the full ‘Trosage’ microscope.

It doesn’t look the strongest St Leger in recent memory but someone has to win it and with it generally proving to be a strong race for both Dosage and Trends it was a no-brainer to give it a full and thorough seeing to.

The full analysis guide can be downloaded from the following link…

>>>Full BDH St Leger Analysis Guide

As always you don’t have to side with my selections, there is plenty of analysis in the guide that you can utilize for your own thoughts and workings.

Best of luck if you are getting involved today.

Sky Bet Super 6 – Jackpot now £1 million!!!

I know I keep banging on about this but this weekend it is a £1 million jackpot! And it’s still FREE to enter!!

You do need a Sky Bet account to play but you don’t need to deposit any money to enter the Super 6 competition.

If you don’t have one I suggest you grab one now and get your Super 6 predictions in ASAP!

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Ben (BDH)

Steps debrief…

Steps debrief: They were crap! Next!

2nd…humph…baaah…bugger!

Hard to crab the run, he probably ran right up to the form he has shown in recent performances. Wasn’t helped by the winner veering across the pack at the 1f pole, but neither were others and we’d be hard pushed to say it stopped him winning.

He recorded his 2nd best Proform speed figure for the run, 1lb behind his best, so again we can’t knock the run too much.

The jockeys reported after the first couple of races that the ground was riding on the fast side which won’t have helped his cause and again he is left waiting for some juicy underfoot conditions to play his strongest hand.

One thing we do have to watch with the 5yo is his handicap mark. He is creeping up the weights without winning and there is a chance he slopes onto a mark he can’t win from without having picked up a decent pot in the process. I’m hoping the handicapper doesn’t touch him for this latest run and he gets to the softer ground without breaching the 100 mark. It’s a small worry but a worry nevertheless, they all have a ceiling to their abilities and we don’t want him breaking through it before conditions really come for him.

On the jockey front I certainly wouldn’t be adverse to seeing young Thomas Brown back in the saddle. He has caught my eye on a few occasions this term and his 3lb claim certainly wouldn’t go amiss, he also has winning and placed form on the horse.

I would have preferred the win on Saturday but to be fair I would have also preferred him not to have been running in the Shergar Cup!!

Hey Ho though, it’s been and gone and we roll onwards and upwards.

I’ll potentially have another addition to the squad once I’ve done a full personal review of the weekends action so stay tuned…

Ben (BDH)

Steps to secure the Shergar Cup Dash?

The Shergar Cup. Bit like Glorious (Bad)Goodwood for me I’m afraid in that I’m probably not going to get overly involved in it. To be honest it’s not a race meeting I’ve ever looked into that closely in the past but at the same time there has always been a niggling feeling in the back of my bonce that there are probably ways and means to profit from the Shergar Cup format (if anyone has any suggestions leave a comment below!).

I’m actually beginning to think that the Glorious Goodwood/Shergar Cup period is a time of the year when I should go on holiday! Not meetings that I generally play heavily in and to add to it all there has barely been a sniff of National Hunt action to fall back on!

Anyhoo we have a BDH runner stepping into battle today so let’s deal with him before I tail off onto some needless tangent…

BDH Runner – STEPS (2.05 Ascot)

As things stand he looks to have his conditions.

The bare minimum trip = Check

A track he has run well at in the past = Check

Good or softer ground = Check

He has been running extremely well in recent runs on Good to Firm ground but this Good ground is much more his cup of tea. If it drys out to firmer then his chance becomes less, if it becomes juicier underfoot his chances increase.

In truth I was more expecting to see him in a large field-valuable handicap than this 10 runner affair but I, unfortunately(!!), don’t pick his targets.

His price is also a bit skinny for my liking and the 100/30 is borderline for me. 4/1+ would be fine but 100/30 (and less in plenty of places) just makes me hesitant a bit.

On the plus side, however, we do have the excellent Jimmy Doyler in the saddle and in a race/meeting where plenty of the jockeys won’t have that much experience of the track (or indeed that much experience of British racing) his presence can only but be a positive angle.

He is also a horse in a rich vein of form and has been running extremely well despite being hindered by sub-standard draws on his last 3 starts.

In a day of little action for me I’ll put my money where my mouth is and back our boy STEPS. At the end of the day, however, I’ll be a happier bunny when Glorious Goodwood & the Shergar Cup stop trying to derail my BDH train…

Ben (BDH)