Tidal Bay handed top weight in Crabbies Grand National

The eagerly anticipated weights for the £1 million Crabbies Grand National were published on February 11 and revealed that grand old stager Tidal Bay has been handed top weight of 11st 10lbs as he attempts to become the oldest horse in generations to land the epic four-and-a-half mile event.

While he will carry more weight than any other horse in the race, the 13-year-old has actually been given a serious chance by BHA Handicapper Phil Smith, assessing the multiple Grade 1 winner some 7lbs below his official mark over regular fences. It was off a mark of 168 that the Graham Wylie-owned star ran a brave second behind local star Last Instalment in the Irish Hennessy Gold Cup a couple of days before the National weights were published.

Tidal Bay, trained by Paul Nicholls, is now a general 20/1 ante-post joint-favourite in the racing betting with last season’s Welsh National hero Monbeg Dude, a good winner in Grade 3 company at Cheltenham last time out. Another high profile entry in the race is the Nicky Henderson-trained 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run (11st 9lb), also the dual winner of the top-class King George VI Chase at Kempton.

Set to be partnered by the popular amateur rider Sam Waley-Cohen, it is quite likely that Long Run will be a very popular choice on the big day in the racing live betting for the race that will be seen live around the world by more than 600 million television viewers.

Triolo D’Allene (11st 6lb) winner of the Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury in November, is another high profile entry for the race, along with the popular Seabass (11st 2lb), 33/1 in the racing betting list, third in the 2012 Grand National under Katie Walsh before disappointing in the great race last year when sent off the 11/2 favourite before finishing 11th behind Aurora’s Encore.

Rock On Ruby On Course For Arkle

Former Champion Hurdle winner Rock On Ruby passed his latest test over fences at Doncaster in a novice chase to begin their card on Thursday.

Harry Fry’s mount had just one horse to beat in Mr Mole and did so by 10 lengths in the class three contest, justifying his 2/7 favourite tag.

Noel Fehily chose to lead up his rival and made all in the 2m race. He jumped well apart from the third last where he wasn’t fluent but connections were pleased with his performance.

The success brought up the nine-year old’s second victory of the season. He also scored at Plumpton back on December 16 when he was sent off at 1/10 in a three horse race.

The 2012 Festival winner is expected to return to the Festival in March for a shot at the leading 2m novice chase contest at the meeting. He is 8/1 with bet365 for the Arkle which is likely to be his next assignment.

Champagne Fever still remains the 4/1 favourite for the second race on day one at Cheltenham. He is also a previous winner at the Festival as he scored in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2013 for trainer Willie Mullins. He got the better of My Tent or Yours in the opener 12 months ago, returning at racing live betting odds of 5/1.

Since that hurdle victory, he has run twice over fences. He made his chase debut at Punchestown in November and was successful by four lengths ahead of Corbally Ghost.

He did suffer a surprise defeat on Boxing Day though, at Leopardstown. He started the Grade One Racing Post Novice Chase as the 8/15 favourite in the racing betting but he could only come home third. Defy Logic won the contest, while Trifolium chased him home in second.

Shamus Award Amongst Entries for Australian Cup

Danny O’Brien’s exciting colt, Shamus Award, is amongst a strong initial entry for the $1 million Australian Cup at Flemington on March 8 as he continues to build his reputation in both the 1600 and 2000m divisions.

The son of Snitzel has only had six career starts so far, failing to score in any of his first five, although he showed a smart level of form in defeat; in particular, when failing by just two-and-a-half lengths to catch Long John when third to Peter Snowden’s classy sort in the Group 1 Beck Caulfield Guineas in mid-October.

That effort proved his previous short-head loss in the Group 2 City Jeep Bill Stutt Stakes no fluke at all, but suggested to connections that there might be better to come over trips in excess of a mile.

Despite those good placed runs, racing betting punters allowed Shamus Award to start a relatively unconsidered 20/1 chance (21) in his first race at 2000m in the Group 1 Sportingbet Cox Plate at Moonee Valley a couple of weeks later.

They doubtless rued the missed opportunity as the Chad Scholfield-ridden colt bounced out and made every yard of the running, holding on bravely as his stride shortened in the closing stages to score by just a short-head from the fast-finish Happy Trails, with the subsequent Melbourne Cup winner Fiorente a half-a-length further back in third.

The form looks red-hot, and after a break it appears that Shamus Award has strengthened up and looks in great shape ahead of his return to the fray, although some reports from racing live betting outlets suggest that O’Brien is favouring a crack at the shorter Australian Guineas on March 1.

Wherever he goes, it is likely that this exciting prospect will make his presence felt, especially if continuing to adopt his successful front-running tactics.

My Tent or Yours Set For Another Run

Connections of My Tent or Yours have indicated their runner will feature again before a shot at the Champion Hurdle next month at the Cheltenham Festival.

Trainer Nicky Henderson is looking at either the Kingwell Hurdle or the Contenders Hurdle as his horse’s next assignment.

The seven-year old is unbeaten in his campaign so far, which includes two runs. He made his seasonal reappearance at Newcastle in the Grade One Fighting Fifth Hurdle where he prevailed by three lengths ahead of Cockney Sparrow. He went off as the 8/11 favourite in the racing live betting back in November before quickening clear from the field after jumping the last.

His next outing was at Kempton in the Christmas Hurdle on Boxing Day. He took on The New One in an exciting clash of two of last season’s leading novices. My Tent or Yours was able to come on top under Champion Jockey Tony McCoy by half a length where he was second best in the racing betting on the bet365 website at 11/8.

Nigel Twiston-Davies’ mount went through the last obstacle which cost him ground in the closing stages. The Somerset trainer has stated his horse will now be having a rest and will not be seen against before the Festival.

The Champion Hurdle this year is also set to include the two-time winner Hurricane Fly. He will be defending the crown he won in 2013 when he became the first horse since Comedy of Errors to regain the trophy. Since then, he has also gone on to break the world record for the most number of Grade One victories in his career. He was able to do so in the Morgiana Hurdle, while in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown he extended his tally to 19.

Solwhit Out Of World Hurdle

Solwhit has been ruled out of a defence of his World Hurdle title at the Cheltenham Festival in March by his trainer Charles Byrnes.

The 3m hurdler was set to make his reappearance at Leopardstown last month but a fetlock injury made him miss that run.

Unfortunately for connections, he will not be able to recover in time for the championship race at Prestbury Park which could have seen him clash with four-time winner Big Buck’s.

Despite the disappointing news, Byrnes is still hopeful that Solwhit could appear at either Aintree for the Grand National meeting or in Ireland at the Punchestown Festival in April.

The 10-year old was successful on three occasions last season. After a second place finish in his opener at Punchestown, he was sscored in the Grade Three Limestone Lad Hurdle at Naas.

He then went into the World Hurdle where he went off at 17/2 with bet365 and was held up in the rear in the early stages by jockey Paul Carberry. The pair then led after the last to get up ahead of Celestial Halo who was running in the colours of Big Buck’s.

A month later, Solwhit added the Liverpool Hurdle to his honours for the campaign. He was denied an opportunity to pick up a rare treble at Punchestown during their festival in April due to the ground that day.

Instead, the Irish based horse made the trip to France in June to take his chance in the Grande Course de Haies d’Auteuil, which is a hurdle contest over 3m1f. Byrnes’ mount was well fancied in Paris as he was the 5/4 favourite but he had to settle for second behind the French-trained Germix who finished eight lengths ahead of him.

Big Buck’s is now rated as the 2/1 favourite for the 2014 World Hurdle with bet365.

Banned Duo Set For Return

Godolphin have revealed that the pair of Encke and Certify are set to run this year following their bans from the sport.

The two horses were part of the drugs scandal which hit the Mahmood Al Zarooni yard in 2013. The trainer received an eight-year ban from the sport so the animals are now in the care of Charlie Appleby.

Encke has not been seen since the winning the St Leger at Doncaster in September 2012. His victory in the final Classic of the season denied Camelot the Triple Crown that year as he had previously been successful in the 2000 Guineas and Derby at Epsom.

The Godolphin-owned runner finished less than a length ahead of the dual Classic winner to deny him the chance to make history.

The bet365 racing betting page suggests that he is likely to be back over the middle distance in the UK later this year. The horse is currently in training in Dubai but is not expected to run in the Middle East.

Certify missed the opportunity to go for the 1000 Guineas and Oaks in 2013 after showing a lot of promise as two-year old. She was successful in the Group One Shadwell Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket on her last run on September 28, 2012 when going off as the 4/6 favourite in the bet365 racing odds.

Unlike Encke, the filly is set to appear at the Dubai World Cup Carnival which begins later this month. She could run more than once on the all-weather surface at Meydan. She will then return to Europe when the flat season begins in April for a shot at some of big races on the calendar for fillies and mares.

After four runs as two-year old, connections will be hoping Certify can keep up her 100% record in the new campaign ahead.

New One at the International Hurdle

The New One is expected to return to action on Saturday in the International Hurdle at Cheltenham. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ runner enhanced his reputation last time out at Kempton where he beat former Champion Hurdle winner Rock on Ruby by 10 lengths.

His last outing forced the bet365 racing betting to make him 4/1 joint-favourite for the 2014 running of the Champion Hurdle at the Festival.

This weekend’s test will see him come up against Zarkandar who beat him at Aintree back in April in what was his first outing against the older horses. That race followed his victory in the Neptune Investment Management Novices’ Hurdle.
The five-year old is a 1/2 favourite with bet365 to reverse that form in the International Hurdle and gain revenge for his Aintree Hurdle defeat.

Zarkandar is also making his second start of the season. He opened up at Ascot last month where he was beaten by the very highly regarded Annie Power from the Willie Mullins’ yard in Ireland. Paul Nicholls’ mount just had the advantage jumping the last after making the running from the start but he was just beaten for pace in the closing stages.

The defending champion won this race 12 months when beating Grandouet by two lengths. He is also likely to return to Cheltenham in March for another go at the Champion Hurdle. The six-year old had to settle for fourth in the race last season.

Court Minstrel will be making his third appearance of the season in the Grade Two contest over 2m1f. He has had outings in a Listed race at Ascot and in the Greatwood Hurdle at Prestbury Park. He was unable to make the frame in either of those two starts andis rated as a 12/1 chance with the bet365 racing live betting for his latest run.

Dynaste team eyeing King George VI Chase glory

David Pipe has always held the handsome grey Dynaste in high regard, an opinion more than vindicated when the horse only just out of the novice stage ran an absolute blinder to chase home the high-class Cue Card at Haydock last month in a terrific renewal of the Grade 1 Betfair Chase, writes Elliot Slater.

It was asking a lot of Dynaste to mix it with experienced top-notch performers such as Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Bobs Worth, former Gold Cup winner Long Run, Silviniaco Conti, winner of the Betfair Chase 12 months earlier, and Cue Card, winner of the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in March, but the seven-year-old in no way looked out of place as he jumped like an old hand in a race that was run at a decent gallop throughout.

By the second last fence the contest rested between Cue Card, Dynaste, and Silviniaco Conti – the two Gold Cup winners having been left behind after the home turn – and approaching the last Dynaste was arguably going as well as anything.

The lack of a previous outing might well have made all the difference as the Colin Tizzard-trained Cue Card – third at Exeter a few weeks earlier – found extra and stayed on strongly to score by four-and-a-half-lengths. Dynaste was a fine second, and Silviniaco Conti a brave third.

The early racing betting odds suggest that the three Haydock principals could very well cross swords once again in the feature King George VI Chase at Kempton Park on Boxing Day, a race that would ensure a massive crowd with divided opinions as to which of the trio will come out on top.

Last term Dynaste landed four of his five novice chases, his only defeat coming when runner-up in the Grade 1 RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival behind Ireland’s Benefficient. A winner at the Kempton fixture 12 months ago in the Grade 1 Feltham Novices Chase, the current 4/1 shot in the racing live betting looks sure to run another massive race in the ‘King George’.

At Fishers Cross Set For Latest Test

With the absence of Big Bucks this weekend at Newbury, At Fishers Cross could go off as odds-on favourite on bet365.com for the Grade Two Long Distance Hurdle over 3m in the horse racing betting.

The Paul Nicholls-trained horse has dominated this division in recent years but an injury last season following this race left him ruled him out of the rest of the campaign. He is expected to return at some point in 2013, or early next year, but this will be the opportunity for some of his rivals to pick up some decent prize money, including the Albert Bartlett Novices’ Hurdle winner.

Big Bucks would have been going for a fifth straight Long Distance Hurdle after success in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012. The last horse other than him to prevail in this contest was Duc De Regniere for Nicky Henderson.

At Fishers Cross followed up his Cheltenham Festival win by scoring at Aintree by eight lengths in the Grade One Sefton Novices’ Hurdle. That brought up his sixth straight win last season and ensured he went through the campaign unbeaten.

Rebecca Curtis’ runner will now step up against the older, and much more experienced, horses in the 3m division this season, starting with the test at Newbury. If all goes well, the pundits on bet365.com believe he should remain on course for back-to-back wins at the Festival, this time in the World Hurdle on the Thursday.

With the absence of Tony McCoy from the card at Newbury on Saturday, At Fishers Cross will be ridden by Barry Geraghty. It will be the first time the Irishman has been partnered with the horse as his usual pilot is normally the champion jockey who will be at Newcastle to take up the ride on My Tent or Yours.

British stars hold strong hand in Hong Kong Vase

The forthcoming Longines Hong Kong International Vase at Sha Tin on December 9 has attracted an outstanding entry, including a number of high-class British performers who dominate the ante-post racing live betting market for the leading international mile-and-a-half contest.

The John Gosden-trained The Fugue looks set to continue her recent globetrotting and is generally a 6/4 market leader in the racing betting – although Bet365 offer 7/4 – having run a tremendous race at Santa Anita in early-November when only caught in the dying strides by Irish star Magician in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. The Lord Lloyd-Webber-owned filly has already landed the Darley Yorkshire Oaks and the Irish Champion Stakes in what has been a stellar season for the daughter of Dansili.

The Hong Kong Vase also looks set to see two former winners taking their chance in the hugely valuable race. Last year’s winner Red Cadeaux – a superb runner-up in the Melbourne Cup last time out – and the 2011 winner Dunaden, who triumphed in Hong Kong having won the Melbourne Cup just a few years earlier, are both lined up for duty.

Luca Cumani’s Mount Athos and Marco Botti’s Dandino finished third and fifth respectively in the Emirates Melbourne Cup at Flemington on the first Tuesday in November and also look set to do battle at Sha Tin, while David Wachman’s star Irish three-year-old Galileo Rock, placed in both the English and Irish Derby’s this summer before finishing third in the Ladbrokes St Leger at Doncaster behind Leading Light in September, is another big name expected to tackle the Hong Kong Vase.

Always run in front of a fevered crowd of racing fans on the former British-controlled island, the International Vase is just one of a series of a handful of outstanding races to take place at the most significant fixture in the Hong Kong racing calendar.