Garthorpe Set For Season Opener

Sunday sees the return of the Garthorpe point-to-point season where the Cottersmore meeting kicks of the campaign in Ireland.

A seven race card gets underway with a Cottesmore Members contest at 11.15am. This includes Say No who comes into this on the back of success at Brocklesby on his seasonal reappearance. He is likely to start as favourite in the racing live betting markets to build on that novice rider’s race when he lines up at Garthorpe this weekend.

There are 22 runners in the PPROA Club Members race on the card where the first three jockeys home will gain points towards their total in the Harley Racing National Novice Riders Championship. Bench Warren will be ridden by Tom Chatfield-Roberts, while Joe Drinkwater is set to team up with Working Title once again after the pair prevailed at Wadebridge recently.

The next qualifier for the Bonham’s Men’s Open Point-to-Point Championship Final Hunters Chase at Cheltenham will be on the card at Garthorpe. It will feature Shillingstone who was back in action earlier this month at Brocklesby where he returned with a win. The race also includes recent winner Fruit Fayre who scored comfortably at Thorpe.

Palypso De Creek is likely to start as favourite in the racing betting for the Ladies’ Open where she is set to clash with Hey Porter and Grandturgeon.

In the Midlands Area Club Conditions contest, connections of Victory Parade will be hoping their mount can go one better than its second place finish on this card 12 months ago.

Intentandpurposes broke its maiden recently at Brocklesby and will be vying to build on that in the penultimate race on the afternoon on Sunday, while the finale is The Open Maiden where the consistent Bamboleo will be one of the market leaders to prevail for the first time.

Mullins Eyes RSA Record

Willie Mullins is hoping to enter the Cheltenham record books this year by matching Fulke Wamwyn’s who is the only trainer to have had four successes in the RSA Chase.

The Irishman will saddle the ante post favourite this year in Ballycasey who is currently 9/2 in the racing betting with bet365.

Mullins was first successful in this 3m novice chase contest in 1998 when Florida Pearl came out on top that year. He then had to wait six years for his second triumph as Rule Supreme was victorious at the age of eight, while more recently, Cooldine brought up the Irish trainer’s hat-trick of wins in this prestigious novice race.

After two wins from two this season over fences, punters have been happy enough to back Ballycasey to give his trainer another win the RSA Chase.

The seven-year old made his seasonal reappearance at Navan back in November where he obliged in the 11 runner field by eight lengths. He made one mistake in that race but other than that, took to fences well for a pleasing debut.

Mullins then waited for the Grade One DR. P.J Moriarty Novice Chase at Leopardstown earlier this month for his return to action where he only had two rivals to beat on that occasion. One of them was Gordon Elliott’s Don Cossack who started the race as the even money favourite. Ballycasey made all though, in an impressive display to prove his credentials once again ahead of the Cheltenham Festival.

Alan King’s Smad Place is next best in the market for the RSA Chase as bet365 have him at racing odds of 7/1. He unseated jockey Robert Thornton on his debut over fences but since then has won on both of his two starts to establish himself as a key player next month.

Champagne On Ice For Mullins

Champagne Fever goes into the 2014 Cheltenham Festival looking to make it back-to-back successes at the meeting with a victory this time in the Arkle.

Willie Mullins’ runner won the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle last year in the opening race of the four-day meeting. His target this year is the novice chase contest over 2m.

The seven-year old has only had two public outings over fences. He opened up at Punchestown where he scored by four lengths early in the season.

There was a surprise defeat last time out at Leopardstown for the seven-year old though, as he was third of six runners on Boxing Day in the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase which was won by Defy Logic.

Bet365 make Champagne Fever a 3/1 shot in the racing betting with bet365 for the second race of the festival on day two.

Trifolium finished ahead of Champagne Fever last time and is next best in the bet365 market at racing odds of 5/1 with bet365.
The Gigginstown stud-owned horse went one better than his run on Boxing Day by taking the Arkle Novice Chase in January which is of Grade One status at Leopardstown.

Trifolium returned to the racecourse in November after just short of one year out through injury. He was successful by 10 lengths in his beginners chase debut at Thurles.

Charles Byrnes’ runner was no match for Felix Younger at Navan on his second start over fences but he did reverse that form later in the campaign at Leopardstown.

Former Champion Hurdle winner Rock on Ruby switched to fences in December where he had just two rivals to beat when going off at 1/10. He made no mistake on that occasion and then returned last month for another successful outing at Doncaster.

Gamble Landed With Grandeur

Grandeur was able to successfully land a gamble on Saturday in the Winter Derby Trial at Lingfield.

Jeremy Noseda’s runner has not been short of success in the United States and was able to take advantage of his class to prevail by just under a length ahead of Modernstone.

Grandeur opened up at 11/10 in the racing odds and was much bigger earlier in the morning for the 1m2f Listed contest. However, after market support for the five-year old, he went off as the 4/5 favourite with bet365.

The latest success makes the five-year old a key player ahead of the Winter Derby at the same course next month. It also ensures he qualifies for the all-weather championship final day on Good Friday.

Noseda spoke about the Sheema Classic in Dubai being another possibility for his horse next month.

Grandeur has turned into a globe trotter for his connections in the last couple of years. His prior run to Lingfield was in at Sha tin in the Hong Kong Cup where he came home a respectable seventh.

2013 also saw him take his place in the Arlington Million Stakes which is a Grade One in America. His first visit to the continent resulted in him winning the Twilight Derby at Santa Anita. Further success across the Atlantic followed in the Hollywood Turf Cup.

Modernstone ran a big race for trainer William Knight on Saturday when recording second behind Grandeur at 12/1 in the bet365 racing betting. All of his last four runs have come at Lingfield where he has not been outside of the front two in those outings.

The son of Duke of Marmelade is expected to return for the Winter Derby where he will be looking to reverse the form with Grandeur.

Nicholls Ponders Al Ferof Options

After failing to impress so far in his two runs over 3m this season, Al Ferof may be more likely to run in the Ryanair Chase at the Festival next month, rather than the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

The 2m4f contest is wide open this year according to the racing betting where Paul Nicholls’ runner currently heads the market at 4/1 with bet365.

Al Ferof has had two attempts over 3m so far in his career. He stepped up to the distance on Boxing Day for the King George at Kempton. Despite finishing 14 lengths off the pace, he came home a respectable third behind Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card.

Next time out at Newbury he was the 5/4 favourite in the racing odds for the Denman Chase, which only consisted of five runners. He appeared to struggle in the final four furlongs of that contest in which he was no match for Harry Topper who took the prize for Kim Bailey.

With the bet365 news earlier this week that Cue Card was out of the Cheltenham Festival through injury, it may encourage more connections to aim for the Ryanair Chase this year. First Lieutenant is another horse who also has multiple entries, including that of the 2m4f chase on day three.

The Gigginstown Stud-owned runner finished second in the race behind Cue Card 12 months ago. A month later, he was successful in the Grade One Betfred Bowl Chase at Aintree during the Grand National Meeting to make up for missing out at Prestbury Park.

First Lieutenant has yet to score so far in four attempts this season. He started out at Punchestown in October where he came home third of five runners. The closest he has come to scoring was in the Lexus Chase at Leopardstown in December when Bobs Worth got the better of him by just over a length.

Henderson Star Favourite To Defend Crown

Bobs Worth goes into the 2014 Cheltenham Gold Cup as the 2/1 favourite with bet365 in the racing betting for the blue riband event of the Festival.

Nicky Henderson’s chaser was successful in the feature contest of the meeting in 2013 when he finished ahead of Sir Des Champs and Long Run to bring his record at Prestbury Park to five wins from five outings there.

During the 2013/14 campaign so far, Bobs Worth has only seen a racecourse twice. He opened up at Haydock in the Betfair Chase where he went off as the favourite in the racing live betting. However, he never looked like winning the Grade One contest and came home sixth of the eight runners in a disappointing run.

The Gold Cup winner was back to his best though, last time out in Ireland in the Lexus Chase in December. Henderson chose the Leopardstown race as his horse’s next step as he felt the track suited his runner more than Kempton where the King George was ruled out. The nine-year old rewarded his connections with an impressive performance.

He stayed out the three mile better than any of his rivals to come home in front of First Lieutenant and Rubi Ball, the other two runners to make the frame.

Paul Nicholls is vying to win the Betfred Cheltenham Gold Cup for a fifth time. His best chance this year appears to be with Silviniaco Conti who is second best in the market for the race.

He was travelling well in the Gold Cup 12 months ago but fell three from home. Since then, he has gone on to win the King George and was a respectable third in his seasonal reappearance in the Betfair Chase at Haydock behind Cue Card and Dynaste.

McManus 1-2 In Eider

Wyck Hill was able to outstay his rivals on Saturday in the Betfred Eider Chase at Newcastle.

The 4m1f contest is the third longest race in the Britain, behind the Grand National and Midlands Grand National. The 10-year old prevailed by just under a length ahead of Smoking Aces.

Owner John McManus purchased Wyck Hill over a year ago as a horse which would hopefully help him win the Grand National. However, before his run on Saturday in the Eider, he had shown nothing to represent he could be a serious challenger for the world’s most famous steeplechase.

Jockey Tom scudamore chose to take up the running quite early in the 4m1f race with the David Bridgewater trained horse. Despite idling in the closing couple of furlongs, he was able to hold on in front of Smoking Aces who also ran in the McManus silks.

Wyck Hill went off at racing odds of 9/1 to reward backers at Newcastle. His return to a winning mark sparked the horse to success.

Bridegwater’s runner had not won since December 2012. It was his fourth outing of the season in which an increase in distance and drop in class appeared to beneficial.

Bet365 make Wyck Hill a 25/1 shot for the Grand National in April in the racing betting, Teaforthree remains the 10/1 favourite, while Tidal Bay will be looking to become the first horse since Red Rum in 1974 to win off top weight and is 16/1 with bet365 to do so.

Ballypatrick was a further two lengths behind the first two home at Newcastle under three pound claimer Gavin Sheehan. The trio of horses were well clear of Safran De Cotte who completed the placings in fourth place.

Dovecote Winner Irving Set For Festival

Irving enhanced his reputation on Saturday ahead of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle by claiming the Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle at Kempton.

It was the six-year old’s fourth triumph of the season and ensures he remains unbeaten in the UK going into the Cheltenham Festival next month.

Paul Nicholls had hoped to run his hurdler in the Betfair Hurdle earlier this month at Newbury. However, the ground on that occasion was against his runner and he chose to be patient for the right opportunity for his return.

Jockey Nick Schofield tracked the leaders on his mount at Kempton until the second obstacle from home where he took the lead for the first time in the race. Despite not jumping the final hurdle cleanly, he stretched away from his rivals, which was headed by Amore Alato as they crossed the line.

Bet365 chose to cut Irving into 5/2 clear favourite for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in their racing betting following the impressive performance. He sits ahead of the Willie Mullins-trained Vautour who is next best at 11/4 with bet365, while Wicklow Brave is 8/1.

Nicholls’ runner has been talked about as one the country’s leading novices since he won on his British debut at Taunton on November 14. He then followed that up with a four length victory at Ascot just over a week later.

His first Group assignment also came at Ascot in the Mittie Kennel Gate Novices’ Hurdle. He went off as racing odds of 11/4 as Nicky Henderson’s Volnay De Thaix was in the field. Irving was able to finish clear of the 4/5 favourite which immediately made him a leading Supreme Novices’ Hurdle contender, in what is the opening race of the Cheltenham Festival.

Nicholls has won the opener on day one twice, with Al Ferof in 2011 being his most recent success.

Game On Dude Set For World Cup

Leading American thoroughbred Game On Dude is expected to have another shot at the Dubai World Cup in Dubai in March, despite disappointing there in 2011.

Bob Baffert’s runner will be favourite in the racing betting for the richest race in the world at Meydan on the tapeta surface.

If he is successful, he will follow in the footsteps of Animal Kingdom who won the race for America in 2013 when scoring in comfortable fashion in the feature race of the Festival.

American horses have an excellent record in the 1m2f flat race. Cigar was successful in the inaugural running in 1996, while Silver Charm, Captain Steve, Pleasantly Perfect, Roses in May, Electrocutionist, Curlin and Well Armed have all landed the prize having made the trip for the States.

This year’s leading USA hope Game On Dude, went off as the 5/2 favourite in betting for the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Santa Anita in California back in November. After being prominent with the leaders in the early stages of the contest, he faded in the final couple of furlongs on the dirt to come home 11th in the race won by Mucho Macho Man.

Since that effort at the Breeders’ Cup meeting, he has had two outings and failed to win in either of them. At Churchill downs on November 29, he was denied by just a head by Will Take Charge in the Group One Clark Handicap, while more recently at Santa Anita, he was fifth of seven in the Grade Two San Antonio Stakes when going off the 30/1000 market leader.

The seven year-old is unlikely to have another run before the big race in Dubai where he could come up against Derby winner Ruler of the World and leading European hopes Magician and The Fugue.

Sterling City Set For Group One Challenge

Australian bred sprinter Sterling City is set to take on Hong Kong’s best on Sunday in the Chairman’s Sprint Prize at Sha Tin Racecourse.

John Moore’s runner is 2.75 with the bet365 racing betting to win the 1200 metre contest where he will have to get the better of ante-post favourite Lucky Nine.

Sterling City has only raced on five occasions so far in his career and has won on three of those occasions. He justified favouritism to win the Group Three Chinese Club Challenge Cup last time out at Sha Tin. That was over the longer trip of 1400 metres but he was able to hold off the challenge of Destined For Glory to get up by just under a length.

The six-year old broke his maiden on his debut at the Hong Kong track back in June in the Premier Cup. He followed that up with another success later in the year to score a by a neck ahead of Bullish Champions.

A step up to Group Two came in the Bochk Wealth Management Jockey Club Sprint where he found only Charles The Great too good for him on the day.

Connections then entered their talented sprinter in a Group One for the first time in December in the Longines Hong Kong Sprint over 1200m. He was able to finish a respectable fifth in a race which included some of the best sprinters in the world. Japan’s Lord Kanaloa took the price ahead of Sole Power from Ireland, while Frederick Engels completed the placings.

The field for the Chairman’s Sprint Cup on Sunday is much smaller and is a good opportunity for him to try and win in the highest company for the first time. The occasion should provide a similar opportunity for fans of the racing live betting.