Saturdays best televised racing takes place at Sandown and Chester today but there is also a quality Ripon handicap on later available to ATR viewers. I will discuss my selections in the order that they will appear on our screens today. Good luck to anyone still mad enough to be reading my ridiculous selections! (thats why my friends were calling them on Thursday at York where winners were more sparse than water in a desert).
First up today comes a very impressive line up in the Atalanta Stakes (Listed) race. There are three non-runners but all had little chance of making an impression so we are left with a deadly six to seperate on form and race preparation.
My first acknowledgement was to appreciate the quality of Seta who looks a group horse in waiting. Meanwhile Decorative is a very unexposed sort and looks capable of better than what she has achieved so far on her two starts. She will undoubtedly improve but what is her level? Unsure. However both of these participants have been kept off the course and only one previous winner this decade has won this race having had more than 28 days off from racing. Just to clarify - ONLY 1 in 10 have won having had more than 28 days off. Would that make you want to bet on a horse that is very short odds?
Long Lashes meanwhile has had a recent run and was my initial thinking as to who the winner would be as she proved her Group 3 credentials last year and made a satisfactory reappearance only 22 days ago. The problem with her is that I have niggling doubts about her ability. This may only be a Listed race but it is a tough one and she will still be improving. Her odds are respectable at 5-1 but it has to be a bet on Blue Angel at quite ridiculous 12-1 odds that gets the vote here. Blue Angel can be considered an eye-catcher the way she ran last time at Goodwood over an insufficient 7f test. She was held up from a poor draw and made to wait for her run as she was blocked off in the home straight before finding a gap late on to be a never nearer fourth place. A stiff mile rather than a sharp 7f could be the answer to her getting a result. Richard Hannon states on his website -
"Blue Angel was unlucky not to be placed in the Oak Tree at Goodwood and on that form she must have a chance in the Listed Atlanta Stakes. She had to be switched twice down there and was only beaten a length and a half at the end, finishing best of all."
My concern with Blue Angel is though whether she can turn around previous Ascot form with Chachamaidee who herself looks pretty useful and on an upward curve. Blue Angel had not had a recent run before that lacklustre effort but Chachamaidee was unlucky herself with a terrible start yet still managed to floor all her rivals barring the winner Field Day.
My suspicion is that the biggest value lies with Blue Angel but I consider to be more of a place option and I am only interested in winning so therefore I will take the plunge and hope a sizeable punt on Chachamaidee brings me a result. Trends are in her favour and if she can start on terms and settles well she could be the one to beat.
The next big race of the day comes from Chester in the shape of the Chester Handicap (Listed) race. The ground is dreadingly on the soft side for this renewal and it looks initially like a race I should not honestly get involved in. Emerging Artist however appeals despite a wide birth in stall 10 here. This front runner is quite a specimen and there could be better to come yet as this is only his first season racing. He was brushed aside in a tough Goodwood handicap last month but showed an improved performance at Ascot when taking 2nd in a decent race. Interestingly no winner of this race has come from odds bigger than 7-1 in the last decade so Emerging Artist at 13-2 represents a good thing! Do you honestly believe that? There could be something in it though and what is more revealing about the trends is that only one horse rated as low as 91 has ever won or EVEN made the first three. That means the favourite Jedi rated 91 also has it all to do here. Horses rated 95 have by far a better record and so I am happy to stick with Emerging Artist who is rated 96 and will appreciate the softened ground (grand sire Sadler's Wells).
Next up is the 3.10 at Sandown run as the Sunderlands Handicap and this was the race that I did begin to study the form of for last night before I realised I was too tired to make an assured selection. However the price has collapsed on one horse I was heavily considering - Forte Dei Marmi. This horse won me the Zetland Gold Cup earlier in the season at Redcar but absolutely EVERYTHING was in the horses favour that day. On this occasion he does not have the greatest draw and he will need everything to fall right for what has been stated by connections to be a "bridle horse" in the past. I have also just discovered that Pricewise is the reason for the reduction in value and so I can readily oppose it now at the 9-1 odds.
Not since 2002 has a horse managed to win from a DRAW in Stall 8 or below! Impressive stat. Infact all the winners between 2003-2009 have come from a double figured draw which shows the necessity of getting an early position either in front or cosily tucked in behind horses. These are very important requirements so despite Forte Dei Marmi being a very classy sort there has to be some doubt. It is also worth mentioning that only ONE winner has won this race having had more than a 35 days off the track and that was when it was a Class 3 affair back in 2001. Forte Dei Marmi again would appear to have it all to do based on the two aforementioned stats alone so now he is not a double figured price I will seek my value elsewhere.
I am carefully considering backing topweight Kings Destiny who no doubtedly has a few things going for him. He's come down marginally in the handicap which could make him competitive and he has the use of a double figured starting gate and he ran last time out within the limit I stated earlier. He also has the benefit of an incredibly in form stable which is pounding the winners enclosure lately. My concern though is regarding the ground as the rain has never come. It will be a tip in itself though if the stable keep Kings Destiny in the line up as they are unlikely to risk the horse on ground that may cause injury. If it runs then I envisage it has a great chance at value odds. The pace surrounding this race revolves around how quick Australia Day will take them along. This is likely to be pretty fast as he only has one style of running and that is to bomb it and set a good gallop. Kings Destiny will have to remain prominent to have any sort of chance as he is capable over further and would not want the closers to swamp him late on.
The 3.25PM handicap at Chester has an incredible historical roll of honour. None of the last five winners have been priced shorter than 16-1! There was also a 50-1 winner in 2000. Pretty remarkable indeed. This years renewal is weaker due to four non runners and so only 13 will go to post. It is important punters ignore any television coverage this afternoon that will no doubtedly mention CHESTER DRAW BIAS. Over a 7 1/2 furlong trip the draw bias is infact quite minimal but they would not have you believe it in the media which is why possibly there have been so many big prices win this race.
My idea of the winner here is Side Glance trained by Andrew Balding. There should be an abundance of pace on offer as at least four or five of the line up like to lead so hopefully they can kill each other off and leave it to the held up horses to fight out at the death. Side Glance has form at varying trips but I have a suspicion an incredibly fast run sharp 7f could be perfect. This is only a standard bet as anything can happen at Chester when all said and done but he would be the one that interests me most for the race. The ground should not be an issue as he is a full brother to Advertise who has two wins to his name in softened ground.
I will make a new posting later regarding the non-televised Ripon feature race run at 4.10 if I can work out the likely winner.
2.05 - Sandown - Chachamaidee (6-1 various)
2.50 - Chester - Emerging Artist (13-2 Bet365)
3.10 - Sandown - Kings Destiny (24-1 on Betfair)
3.25 - Chester - Side Glance (11-2 Bet365)