Royal Ascot with William Hill: antepost tips

Only days after the Epsom Derby success of Ruler Of The World, punters’ thoughts are now on the most prestigious five-day Festival in the entire racing calendar – Royal Ascot.

With the help of William Hill, The Stable View blog have three antepost tips for a selection of races to ensure that you will ahead of the rest when the meeting takes place in just under three weeks time.

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To visit William Hill’s website click the link: http://sports.williamhill.com/bet/en-gb

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Animal Kingdom (5-2) – Queen Anne Stakes

Frankel, Canford Cliffs and Goldikova are the last three winners of the Queen Anne Stakes, so the victor in the 2013 renewal will be in good company on the roll of honour.

Despite the likes of Aidan O’Brien-trained Declaration Of War and Most Improved prominent in the betting, it seems that this could be a contest between Goldophin’s Farrh (11-4) and the 2013 Dubai World Cup champion ANIMAL KINGDOM.

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Although, Farrh’s performance on his seasonal reappearance was taking, it seemed, to me at least, that he only ran to form. The one horse that ran disappointingly below his rating in the JLT Lockinge Stakes was Cityscape.

Animal Kingdom, on the other hand, has excellent form from all corners of the globe.

Graham Motion’s five-year-old won the prestigious Kentucky Derby in 2011, before cruising to a two-length victory this March in Meydan.

It is also worth noting that Animal Kingdom was only narrowly beaten in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Mile by American Horse of the Year winner, Wise Dan.

Normally, for a foreign-based Royal Ascot participant, 5-2 favouritism would worry me as sometimes a horse can have a lot of their performance taken out of them by jetlag and acclimatising to their new surroundings.

However, because Animal Kingdom has been in the United Kingdom since his exploits in Dubai three months ago, it should pose no problem.

He is the classiest horse in this race and should prove it in the Queen Anne Stakes before heading off in to retirement as a stallion to keep an eye on in the future.

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Sole Power (10-1) – King’s Stand Stakes

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A lot of punters will have been disappointed and put off by SOLE POWER’s performance in the Haydock Temple Stakes, but he most certainly is worth keeping with – for the sake of value at the very least.

A lot of negatives can be turned in to positives for the Eddie Lynam-trained colt’s next run. Firstly, Johnny Murtagh will be expected to take over the ride of Fran Berry.

Although Berry is a talented enough jockey, when Murtagh steers Sole Power, he is in sync with him and normally produces winning results.

Secondly, at the Royal meeting there will be a lot of pace in the early stages of the race and this will play to the strengths of the son of Kyllachy.

Sole Power is available at 10-1 and is a good each-way bet, but he will come under pressure from his market rivals in the form of South African-based Shea Shea (11-4), three-year-old sprinting star Reckless Abandon (8-1) and Haydock Group 2 winner Kingsgate Native (14-1).

Naturally, backing against the antepost favourite will be difficult, as the Mike De Koch-trained colt has built such a reputation over the Dubai Carnival, but I have reservations over a short-priced favourite maintaining performance levels when travelling nearly 9,000 miles to race in Britain.

As I feel Sole Power will be more of himself at Royal Ascot, the 10-1 about him at William Hill looks good value.

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Society Rock (7-1) – Diamond Jubilee Stakes

The antepost market for the Diamond Jubilee Stakes would make you believe that this is a fiercely competitive race. But, half of the market are believed to be running in the 5f King’s Stand Stakes earlier in the Royal meeting instead.

This means that the realistic challengers are SOCIETY ROCK, Soft Falling Rain (8-1), Deacon Blues (8-1) and Gordon Lord Byron (14-1) amongst others.

Soft Falling Rain has similar travel issues to Shea Shea so I am discarding his chances of winning based on my theory.

Gordon Lord Byron has very good form in the top 5f sprints, but has never found a way to beat Society Rock. It is unlikely he will be able to find a way at Ascot. Despite this, if you fancy placing an exacta or trifecta on the day of the race, the five-year-old would be included in mine.

As for the talented Deacon Blues, he will have to be in pretty outstanding order to win this, after being off the track injured for 20 months. There are no guarantees that he will make it to the stalls this month, so the 8-1 about him looks very skinny and does not tempt.

The antepost bet, though, does come from James Fanshawe’s Pegasus Stable in the form of Society Rock.

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In my opinion, the son of Rock Of Gibraltar is the best 6f sprinter in Europe.

The six-year-old won this race two years ago at huge odds of 25-1 and was incredibly unlucky last year not to push Australian supermare Black Caviar closer. He failed in that renewal because of his poor start, which is one worry when backing this horse.

However, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

Against the anticipated weak field, he could rout this – even with a substandard start.

At 7-1, Society Rock is the website’s NAP bet. On the day, he could be closer to 4-1 favourite with the omission of Shea Shea. Therefore, I am all aboard Rocky to rock ‘n’ roll to the winners’ enclosure.

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Comments welcome. Follow me on twitter @JamesYellen. Special thanks to William Hill for assisting with this article.

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Dawn Approach: bred to be a champion

Within recent years the 2000 Guineas has proved to be a plinth for stardom.

In the last five seasons alone Sea The Stars, Camelot and Frankel have prevailed in the Rowley Mile colt Classic, with the 2009 and 2012 winners also going on to secure the Derby.

The trio all became champion three year olds.

This is something that may beckon for the recent 2000 Guineas victor Dawn Approach.

Dawn Approach

The Godolphin-owned colt’s emphatic five-length victory at Newmarket on Saturday was striking to say the least; with his display of stamina suggesting that his chances of a Derby triumph next month are strong.

As low as 7-4 in most places, the Jim Bolger-trained son of New Approach has the pedigree to replicate his father’s 2008 Epsom success.

He is bred to be a top-class winner.

Despite the fact that Hymn Of The Dawn, Dawn Approach’s dam, only fetched £387 in five starts for Bolger, the ancestry of the unbeaten colt’s sire and damsire have always hinted at Group 1 achievements for their progeny.

New Approach, a winner of five Group 1s in his career, including the 2007 Dewhurst Stakes and the 2008 Epsom Derby, has already begun life as a stallion magnificently.

In his first crop, the Darley-owned steed was responsible for three Royal Ascot winners, including Dawn Approach.

One of the other successes was Newfangled, a two-year-old filly owned by HRH Princess Haya Of Jordan.

Newfangled

Similarly to Dawn Approach, the John Gosden-trained horse was shaping up to become the leading contender for the following year’s Guineas. This was until she tragically passed away in the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York.

New Approach-sired horses collected £528,000 last season, making the eight-year-old the 2012 Champion first-season sire. It is easy to see why he has been a successful stallion, especially when you look at his own breeding.

He is laced in the genes of champions.

Out of the unraced dam Park Express, whose sire Ahonoora produced 1992 Derby winner Dr Devious, New Approach is one of the many outstanding colts by Coolmore supersire Galileo.

The former Aidan O’Brien-trained horse won the Derby himself in 2001, and is father to the likes of 2012 Epsom Oaks winner Was, Epsom Derby place-finishers Treasure Beach and Astrology, as well as 2013 contenders Kingsbarns and Battle Of Marengo. This is before you mention the likes of Frankel and Nathaniel.

For all his success, however, Galileo has only had one Derby winner – New Approach.

Albeit not as successful, the dam’s side of Dawn Approach also has traces of Group 1 victories.

The damsire, US stallion Phone Trick, fathered Caller One, a two-time winner of the Golden Shaheen in Dubai, as well as Favorite Trick and Phone Chatter, who both won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Impressively, the trio amassed over £3million in prize money for connections, winning four Group 1 races in the process.

It is therefore easy in hindsight to see why Dawn Approach has been such a success for connections.

Sheikh Mohammed

He possesses the right traits for a Derby winner; the ability to seemingly stay the distance with speed, the patience to hang back before mounting an assault and the balance to master the complications and undulations of testing tracks.

It would be no surprise to see him become the fourth horse in three decades to complete the Guineas-Derby double. If Dawn Approach does, he will undoubtedly become the champion of his age group.

In which case, we could potentially have another superstar on our hands.

The John Smith’s Grand National Festival preview

Tangoed scantily clad woman prancing around Aintree’s enclosures, Daily Mail sub-editors drafting their ‘BAN HORSERACING’ headlines and the RSPCA wielding their axe of hypocritical condemnation over course amendments, ahh yes, it has to be the start to the Grand National Festival at Aintree.

In two days time the ‘world’s greatest steeplechase’ will commence for its 174th renewal, but before then, there are two days of top-class racing to take in.

Below are tips for all the key races over the next few days.

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Betfred Bowl Chase

I am not a fan of backing horses that come here straight from the Cheltenham Festival, but I am prepared to give those that have had light races in March another chance.

This is the case for SILVINIACO CONTI.

Silviniaco Conti wins the Betfair Chase at Haydock

When going very well and looking to seriously compete for honours in the Gold Cup, the Paul Nicholls-trained seven-year-old took an uncharacteristic fall.

According to his trainer, he has come out of the race well and lines up in the Betfred Bowl as a justified Evens favourite.

He has already registered this season the Charlie Hall Chase, the Betfair Chase – when beating Long Run – and the Denman Chase – after easing past The Giant Bolster.

As the betting suggests, Silviniaco Conti is clearly the best horse in this race and, if he turns up on form, I am very confident of him winning.

First Lieutenant is his main rival and should be respected, thanks to his good form lines with Bobs Worth and Tidal Bay this campaign. However, I was far from pleased with his run in the Ryanair last month and I feel that hard effort could scupper his chances in this.

Quito De La Roque is a horse I like a lot, especially after his Grade 2 victory in the Matty Ryan Memorial Kinloch Brae Chase at Thurles, but he needs to make a big improvement still to challenge the likes of Silviniaco Conti at Aintree.

The Giant Bolster was beaten comfortably when receiving four pounds by the son of Dom Alco at Newbury in February and could well have had a tough race at Cheltenham as he finished fourth in the Gold Cup. He seems to save his best for Prestbury Park and because of this I am discarding him.

Another that I do not fancy is Cape Tribulation. As much as I have been pleasantly surprised by his performances this season, I believe he needs softer conditions to compete. Again, his run in the Gold Cup could have an adverse effect.

Without thinking, Wayward Prince, Whodoyouthink and, in particular, Menorah have no chance. The latter, I am convinced, should be ploughing fields rather than being entered in Grade 1 chases.

Advice:

Silviniaco Conti @ Evens win bet.

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Aintree Hurdle

This has to be one of the best Aintree Hurdles of recent times.

Although competitive, I am hoping that my fragile friend GRANDOUET can justify why he is a first-class performer by claiming his second Grade 1 success.

Grandouet

Before falling in this year’s Champion Hurdle, the Simon Munir-owned six-year-old finished strongly when runner-up to Zarkandar in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham. That was 365 days since his previous run.

Despite some problems since, it is thought that Grandouet is fit and well going in to Aintree. Conditions will suit and the way he has finished off his two races in the two renewals of the International Hurdle suggests to me that he will relish going up in trip.

Barry Geraghty riding him instead of Oscar Whisky is a big indicator of his chances.

He is, though, going to have a tough task on his hands to fight off an incredibly talented field.

The New One is a horse that owes me nothing following his Neptune victory, but I do think he still needs to improve a bit to compete with the big boys.

I could be wrong, and in a way I hope I am, but if I am right and he fails to contend, I’m expecting firms to push out his 2014 Champion Hurdle price, in which case I would then advise lumping on. He is a seriously talented young horse that is going places.

A bit like Cape Tribulation, I have again been surprised by Countrywide Flame’s displays this season.

A valiant effort to finish third at the Festival will probably take its toll on the five-year-old and I am not keen on his chances.

He would probably want softer conditions and it seems that connections will have to do more than the Native American Rain Dance to ensure the going is Soft.

I was hugely disappointed with Zarkandar at Cheltenham, conditions were perfect for Nicholls’ horse and he just did not deliver. He looked to struggle and I suspect it will have had a negative effect. Even though the up in trip will suit, I am unsure he will have gotten over his Champion Hurdle exploits in time for this.

Similarly, Oscar Whisky failed to live up to expectations last month, but has to be respected, after winning the last two renewals.

Thousand Stars, Prospect Wells, Raya Star and Saphir River have slim hopes, but I would strongly advise looking elsewhere.

Advice:

Grandouet @ 4-1 win bet.

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Melling Chase

This is the test that racing fans have been waiting to see. Finally, Sprinter Sacre has a race where his competitors are running to their best in their prime.

Sprinter Sacre wins the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown

Irish superstar Flemenstar, Ryanair champion Cue Card and former Champion Chase winner Finian’s Rainbow will line up against Nicky Henderson’s ‘black aeroplane’ on Friday, but will no doubt receive the same treatment that has been dealt out to the likes of Sizing Europe, Peddlers Cross and Sanctuaire – a right thrashing.

In my opinion, at 1-3, he is too short to back. My advice is to just take in a truly superb racing spectacular.

I firmly believe that this race embodies the greatness of our sport, rather than racing’s ‘public showpiece’ on Saturday.

I fully expect Sprinter Sacre to win, and to win comfortably again, despite the up in trip to 2m4f.

Enjoy it. These horses come around once in a lifetime.

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Topham Chase

A bit like the National, this is a bit of a minefield. However there are two horses that I am keen on.

PLANET OF SOUND, somewhat of a cliff horse for me, has proved he has an excellent ability to jump Aintree fences. His leap over the water jump last year was one of the most striking images of the 2011/2012 season.

Planet Of Sound

Although disappointing throughout the majority of the campaign, excuses can be made with the conditions he has raced in.

He is now officially rated at a mark of 147 and races in the Topham Chase off of 11st 8lbs.

Planet Of Sound has every chance of showing his quality in this and is excellent each-way value at 20-1. He is underestimated.

Another I liked for this was Soll, but it seems he may have just sneaked in for the Grand National as number 40. If he does go for this, he is one to be on after his rejuvenation under new trainer Jo Hughes.

Advice:

Planet Of Sound @ 20-1 e/w bet.

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Grand National

Due to there being 40 runners in the Grand National, I am allowed the luxury of selecting a few horses to tip. This year I have picked three that represent good value.

The first of those is CAPPA BLEU.

The Evan Williams-trained horse was quietly fancied last year and managed to finish a creditable fourth at 14-1.

Jumping well throughout, he unfortunately got caught up in traffic, which meant that his jockey Evan Williams could not get as good a position as he would have hoped for.

Despite this, Cappa Bleu finished with outstanding pace in the 4m4f test.

This effort shows that he can easily stay the distance at Aintree, and with his jumping not a problem; the big question is whether he will get the luck in running that he needs to win.

He already has been given a huge boost from the handicapper, as he will run only one pound heavier than 12 months ago.

Cappa Bleu’s two starts this year have been encouraging in defeat and they both suggest he will improve further for the Grand National.

This, therefore, is surely laid out to be the best chance he will ever have of winning. It could be his year and he is my strongest selection.

It could also be another good renewal for the only horse amongst the 40 who has been there and won the t-shirt, Donald McCain’s BALLABRIGGS.

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The statistics are against him, but his run in last year’s National, when apparently off-colour, was still extremely good.

This season, the 12-year-old has had a much smoother preparation, with his latest effort at Kelso a very good indicator for a promising National run at the end of the week.

McCain has stated that he feels Ballabriggs has come out of that in very good shape and goes to Aintree with every chance.

He runs off of 11st 4lb at Aintree, 5lbs lower than last year, but 4lbs higher than when he won in 2011.

I am very hopeful of a place finish and at odds of 20-1, with some firms paying out five places (some six) each-way, he is decent value.

An outsider that I really like the chances of is SAINT ARE at 50-1.

Not much has been spoken of the Tim Vaughan-trained horse beforehand, but his record at Aintree is consistently terrific for punters who have backed him.

With a £1 win stake, if you backed Saint Are every time he ran at the Merseyside track, you would be £43 in profit.

There are many question marks about this seven-year-old, but in spite of this, he is worth a small each-way bet to turn over his odds to at least gain a place.

Although not quite as talented as his half-brother Sprinter Sacre, the son of Network has a chance, albeit a slim one, of claiming the limelight from Aintree alongside his famous relative.

Advice:

Cappa Bleu @ 12-1 e/w bet.

Ballabriggs @ 20-1 e/w bet.

Saint Are @ 50-1 e/w bet.

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Champion Standard Bumper

At the time of writing this, I am unsure of the final declarations so I apologise if this is woefully wrong.

However, I am mad keen about Nigel Twiston-Davies’ bumper horse PURE SCIENCE.

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The five-year-old is sired by Champion Stallion Galileo and is highly-rated at his Grange Hill Farm yard.

Pure Science finished a tenacious sixth in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival, clearly staying on incredibly well from four furlongs out.

He really took my eye with that performance, especially as he was running in conditions that did not suit.

The drying ground will see the best of Pure Science, but I am worried that Cheltenham may have taken a lot out of him.

Saying that, there are good omens in his favour. The New One claimed sixth in the 2012 Champion Bumper, before going on to win at Aintree in this race. Therefore, he could possibly replicate his stable companion. Wishful thinking, I know.

With the likes of West Wizard and Master Malt expected to turn up fresh, I expect Pure Science to be available at around 8-1, coincidentally at the same price the The New One was 12 months ago. That is a good price for a horse that I think is going places.

Advice:

Pure Science @ SP e/w bet.

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Comments welcome. Follow me on Twitter @JamesYellen.

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Flat horses to follow 2013

The Flat is back.

Here the Stable View blog highlights ten horses to follow this campaign.

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Rosdhu Queen (b f Invincible Spirit – Green Minstrel) Trainer: William Haggas

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This three-year-old filly is available at 20-1 in places for the 1000 Guineas in May, and although that will be a tough ask, she does have the talent to win some of the big races on offer this season.

Her pedigree suggests that she will be better off as a 6f-7f sprinter, as she is related to the highly-regarded trio of Moonlight Cloud, Spirit Quartz and Mayson.

Rosdhu Queen is currently unbeaten in four starts under rules. She won the Group 2 Lowther Stakes at York and the Group 1 Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket towards the end of the campaign to record a prize haul of £173,320 for her career efforts thus far.

Providing she has wintered well, Haggas and his Suffolk-based team should have a rewarding time with her in the months ahead.

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Spirit Quartz (b c Invincible Spirit – Crystal Gaze) Trainer: Robert Cowell

Unlucky in defeat many a time last year, Spirit Quartz quickly became my each-way banker at good prices.

Competing against the Australian sprinting juggernaut that is Ortensia was a tough ask for the five-year-old. Yet, he came mighty close when finishing a narrow runner-up in both the Group 2 Gordon’s King George Stakes at Goodwood and the Group 1 Nunthorpe Stakes at York’s Ebor meeting.

I really rate this horse and with the assumption that he will probably be in the prime of his life at his current age, I expect a Group 1 victory at some point over the course of the season.

My only concern is with Jamie Spencer. He is now retained as the Qatar Bloodstock Racing jockey and it is fair to say I am not a fan of his last-to-first tactic in the majority of his races.

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Purr Along (b f Mount Nelson – Purring) Trainer: William Muir

For those that know me well, rarely does a season go by without a William Muir entry or two on this particular blog.

This year, Purr Along is the selection.

Frustratingly, on Lambourn’s Open Day last year, my Dad and I were offered the chance to purchase a ‘leg’ at an affordable price, but we turned Muir down.

I remember thinking at the time that Purr Along was going to be another all weather horse for the Linkslade yard. How wrong I was.

It is fair to say that that decision was one of the Yellen family’s biggest Shoulda Woulda Coulda moments. Yet, we move on.

Purr Along bagged a Group 3 in France when winning the 2012 Prix Du Calvados in Deauville, but her most impressive form to date was when behind Certify in the May Hill Stakes at Newmarket.

The Godolphin-owned filly beat Muir’s three-year-old on the line to win by a neck. Despite this, Certify is 8-1 joint favourite for the 1000 Guineas, while Purr Along is 33s.

She disappointed on her last start in the Group 1 Prix Marcel Boussac in France. However, Muir has since put that performance down to an extreme incident of ‘being in season’.

Purr Along has every chance of placing in the renewal of the 1000 Guineas, based on previous form, and I dearly hope she can progress and perform well. A big victory for Muir could take his small yard to the next level.

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Imperial Monarch (b c Galileo – Ionian Sea) Trainer: Aidan O’Brien

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Connections of Imperial Monarch did not utilise this talented horse to his best last season.

Forever living in the shadows of Ballydoyle’s superstar, Camelot, the four-year-old was left to race in the not so prestigious events.

I may be bitter since I had him antepost in the Derby before they pulled him out with days to go, but this horse has got an abundance of quality that I feel we have not yet seen.

He is set for the Dubai Gold Cup, before racing in the majority of the Cup races this campaign.

Out of all the horses on this list, this is the one I am most keen on.

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Maxentius (b c Holy Roman Emperor – Guantanamera) Trainer: Peter Chapple-Hyam

Maxentius’ breeding is superb. Strains of the late supersire Sadlers Wells and the 70s American Triple Crown star Secretariat lace this three-year-old colt.

However, he has failed to live up to expectations.

In his two-year-old career, he was found to be well behind the Richard Hannon-trained duo of Olympic Glory and Toronado, and although Hannon’s three year olds are expected to develop in to good sorts this year, Maxentius is not.

Since then, he has already made his seasonal reappearance. Maxentius was an unlucky sixth in the Listed Blue Square Spring Cup at Lingfield a week ago, where he was denied a clear run to finish two lengths behind the leader.

Unless something remarkable has happened in the mean time, he has proven that he will not be a Group 1 horse.

He could, though, become a competitive Group 3 and Listed challenger and is most certainly one to keep an eye on and stay with throughout the campaign.

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Noble Mission (b c Galileo – Kind) Trainer: Sir Henry Cecil

It must be hard to know that your brother is the more successful one of the family.

You would be a complete idiot to think this horse can eclipse Frankel’s achievements, but he is capable of winning lucrative races – most likely at Group 3 level.

Noble Mission is a stubborn colt that will not give in without a fight and is good value for a place, wherever he races.

I feel he will improve from last year, as Frankel did at four, and he may be pushed up to Group 2 standard.

I fully expect him to be retired to stud at the end of the campaign, where he could be used as a Flat stayer sire and potentially a National Hunt stallion, but, until then, the 1m2f – 1m4f races will be his to win.

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Red Cadeaux (ch c Cadeaux Genereux – Artisia) Trainer: Ed Dunlop

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I am slightly biased when talking about this horse. Despite not being the flashiest in the world, he embodies what I love most about racehorses – determination, grit and consistency.

Added to this the fact that he was bred only a matter of yards from my family home in Burghclere, Newbury, and I find myself in a situation where I can not oppose him.

Taking the above away, Red Cadeaux does merit his place on this list.

The seven-year-old is a tenacious sort that gives his all, even when in certain defeat.

A previous runner-up in the Melbourne Cup, Red Cadeaux’s most recent performance was in the Group 1 Longines Hong Kong Vase, which he won by a narrow margin.

It is expected that he will go down a similar route to last year and I am very hopeful of him being as successful.

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Kyllachy Rise (b c Kyllachy – Up And About) Trainer: Sir Henry Cecil

Kyllachy Rise has more potential than solid form thus far in his career.

In his only start to date, he finished one and a quarter lengths behind Steeler, who then went on to finish third in the Racing Post Trophy last September behind 2013 antepost Derby favourite, Kingsbarns.

Kyllachy Star was green that day and will have learned more about how to deal with race conditions.

Bred to be a sprinter, this unexposed three-year-old could be an underrated horse this campaign.

I am very excited about seeing him back out on the track and I advise you to keep an eye on him.

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Grayswood (gr c Dalakhani – Argent Du Bois) Trainer: William Muir

Surprise, surprise! Another Muir horse. Although not with the reputation of Purr Along, Grayswood is highly rated at the Lambourn-based Linkslade Stable.

Despite running at 7f and 9f as a two-year-old, his pedigree suggests that he will relish an up in trip to around 1m4f. He showed this in his last start when travelling well and steadily edging closer to the leader without winning.

He is currently off of mark of 66 and I am certain he is incredibly well handicapped.

Muir has better success on the all weather and I suspect this is where Grayswood will spend most of his year.

He will not be a world-beater, but I am very confident of a big-price win at some stage throughout the season.

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Moohaajim (b c Cape Cross – Thiella) Trainer: Marco Botti

Moohaajim-Mill-reef-Newbury_2832446

The renewal of the 2000 Guineas this year is strong with the likes of Dawn Approach, Olympic Glory and Cristoforo Colombo expected to turn up at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile. But, at 20-1, Moohaajim represents a very good each-way bet.

On two occasions last year, the three-year-old finished behind the very highly thought of Reckless Abandon, which is solid form.

Although thought to be rather small for a top thoroughbred at three, he has a decent engine to be a competitive miler this season.

Botti has been very enthusiastic about this colt throughout the winter, and he should know a good 1m horse when he sees one, after looking after Excelebration for the majority of his career.

The 2000 Guineas is his race and I expect him to run a well against the big boys.

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Comments welcome. Follow me twitter @JamesYellen.

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OLBG Cheltenham Festival preview evening

Prestbury Park was the destination for OLBG’s Official Cheltenham Preview Evening last night, where some racing fans came in hope of finding those final Festival clues.

The panel included Rishi Persad from Channel 4, jockeys Sam Twiston-Davies and Denis O’Regan, Ladbrokes’ David Williams, OLBG’s Dean Goddard and Assistant Trainer to Nicky Henderson, Charlie Morlock.

Alan Lee, racing journalist for The Times, chaired the event.

Here are the key notes from the evening.

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Day One

Supreme Novices’ Hurdle

Morlock suggested that a stronger pace would suit My Tent Or Yours, as he would be able to settle better. He said he was the best horse in the race and that he should run well. He added that the Champion Hurdle was never in their plans.

O’Regan stated that he had been blown away by Champagne Fever’s performance in Ireland and believed he had a great chance this year. He thought he had learned a lot from his Champion Bumper victory and would be his bet.

The rest of the panel agreed that My Tent Or Yours was the most likely winner.

Arkle

The panel were unanimous that Simonsig wins this, based on the change in conditions.

spt_ai_ascot_11.jpg

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Champion Hurdle

Morlock was very bullish on Binocular’s chances, stating that he thought the 2010 champion had better claims than Grandouet.

O’Regan believes that Countrywide Flame’s best runs came from when leading the pace. He suggested he may do that in the Champion Hurdle next week.

The rest of the panel liked Hurricane Fly.

Alan Lee also stated that Balthazar King was to be a NR in the Cross Country Chase, after speaking with Philip Hobbs earlier in the day.

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Day Two

Neptune Investment Novices’ Hurdle

Twiston-Davies said that The New One worked well at home, but he needed luck in running to win.

Alan Lee spoke out about his conversation with Willie Mullins at the Grand National Weights meeting where the Irish trainer was very enthusiastic about Pont Alexandre.

The panel were split between Pont Alexandre and The New One.

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RSA Chase

Denis O’Regan thought that Boston Bob was in the wrong race and should have been put in the John Oaksey 4m Chase.

Morlock said that Hadrian’s Approach has continued to improve all season and that he has shown he is a thorough stayer. He claimed that you need that to win this race.

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Champion Chase

The panel were altogether in saying that Sprinter Sacre would not be beaten.

Sprinter Sacre wins the Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown

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Day Three

Jewson Novices’ Chase

Denis O’Regan said Dynaste is nailed on to win the Jewson and is one of the bankers of the meeting.

Morlock stated that Captain Conan would definitely stay and would give Dynaste a run for his money.

The rest of the panel went with Dynaste.

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Ryanair Chase

Twiston-Davies wants a win for Cue Card as he feels it would be good for connections.

O’Regan feels that if First Lieutenant runs, he will win.

Rishi Persad was keen on Champion Court, as were the rest of the panel.

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World Hurdle

Morlock was happy with Oscar Whisky’s progress and claimed that he would not put you off backing him.

O’Regan liked Get Me Out Of Here a lot, and suggested that Peddlers Cross will not be the same horse he was in the 2011 Champion Hurdle because he has a broken heart. He reckons he will be a runner in the 2014 Coral Cup.

Persad shared with the audience that after Paul Nicholls announced Wonderful Charm for the World Hurdle, Nicholls texted Ruby Walsh to ask whether he did the right thing. Walsh replied by saying that he had no doubt it was.

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Day Four

Triumph Hurdle

The jockeys really fancy Our Conor, especially O’Regan who says he cruised passed him in a race in Ireland and was mightily impressed.

Morlock suggested that Rolling Star was liked by the yard and that he is a professional at home. He said he works well with Utopie Des Bordes and he has the right credentials to win this.

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Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle

Twiston-Davies and Regan liked African Gold with the former suggesting he was working well at home.

Morlock said that even though Utopie Des Bordes is very small, she is electric at her hurdles. He said the seven pound claim gives her a good chance.

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Gold Cup

Persad and Morlock both said that they thought Long Run was good value, with the former putting him up as his nap of the week.

Long Run

Morlock thought that Bobs Worth had every chance and that everyone at home was behind him.

O’Regan stated that he thought Cape Tribulation could place in the Gold Cup.

Twiston-Davies went for The Giant Bolster. He likes the connections a lot and hopes he can win it for them.

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Best of luck everybody. May you all have a profitable Festival.

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Comments welcome. Follow me on Twitter @JamesYellen. Special thanks to OLBG.

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