Everyone makes mistakes and despite this I still rate very highly on gg.com (see Leaderboard) and my latest results should appear on racing-index over the next few weeks. It may prove to be that I have missed the boat by proofing my selections in a professional manner with them too late, after already having so many winners already in 2012!
Anyway, this post is about racing on Sunday and there are a couple of interesting contests scheduled. The Silver Stakes at The Curragh is my main interest, but I will try to offer a view on the Gold Cup at Perth for anyone reading today who enjoys a Summer bet on the National Hunt scene.
3.50 - Coolmore Stud Silver Stakes (Listed) 1m 2f
A very interesting contest where indeed the favourite would Sharestan would look quite solid if the ground was not as testing and the trip was 1f shorter. Indeed his jockey reported him as "failing to get home" when last seen over C&D and that came on slightly better going than he will meet this afternoon. Punters however seem to be unperturbed by the situation and he is a best priced 11-8 at the time of writing.
Some would imagine his only opposition though will come from an Aiden O'Brien horse, given the fact that two of his stable ran out infront of Sharestan last time out. His only offering today is the 3yo colt Learn, who makes his seasonal reappearance and will need to be ultra fit at the first time of asking on ground that may find him out. Being fit to race is one thing and totally different to being race fit, remember that!
So in theory it is safe to say that I have question marks concerning both the market leaders, and should both of them fail to land the spoils, it opens the race up to a number of potential outsiders.
Tannery is a 3yo filly unfortunate to be lumbered with a 3lb penalty for a Listed win last season, which came in a fillies and mares event. She also only ran two days ago and as a result I have my doubts over the reliability of her running to her maximum potential and is therefore removed from calculations.
Brog Deas is a handicapper on the upgrade who may not be without a chance in Listed company, but this would appear to be a step up in trip and with the Britannia Stakes at Royal Ascot the main aim for connections, he is possibly unlikely to score here. Stamina is without doubt a potential question mark, but it looks like he is simply here to get a run out ahead of his commitments in a couple of weeks time.
Sweet Lightning is a very good horse on his day but he is not really a stakes horse, though he should be capable at some stage this season in Listed company of running a solid race. Too heavy to feature in most handicaps now, he would surely have preferred better going here.
Banchuanaheireann comes into the race off the back of a very long absence and at the age of five has still only had three career starts. Market support would be intriguing, but there are better options in the race. One of those that is not is Sharalam who is surely biting off more than he can chew with an entry here. A decent handicapper at an ordinary level in my view, trying to obtain some place money at best I would have thought.
This leaves just one horse, and one horse only as the selection. DEFINING YEAR runs for trainer Mick Halford, who was successful in 2009 with his only other entrant in the race Deauville Vision. Not a great deal can be gleamed off trends due to past renewals all taking place on Good or quicker going, but this entry looks significant.
Defining Year has been fortunate to miss out on a couple of Listed races last season and as a result gets into this race without an additional penalty. His Dam was very ordinary, but she bred with Hawk Wing who was a multiple Group 1 winner who has developed a progeny line that seem to quite often enjoy softer ground.
The selection has only made one racecourse appearance so far this season and it looked more of a fitness exercise than anything else. Held up at the back he was never put into the race, and with the trip always looking on the short side, a line can be drawn through that effort.
Indeed, in that race he faced opposition from Sharestan who looked perfect for the mile trip. The selection conceded 8lb to him that day and back over this 1m 2f trip, off level weights and with less of a fitness advantage it could be quite different.
Obviously a further absence since his last race of 77 days is slightly off-putting, as you would have expected him to come back after his effort within 45 days at worst. It may still be that another race is required to gauge a fitness edge, but I can see the selection running a good race at very reasonable odds.
If eight runners were to remain I would not argue an each way play.
THE BET: DEFINING YEAR @ 16-1 (Betfair)
4.10 - Aviva City Of Perth Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Class 2) 3m
I am not sure whether I have forgotton now how to select a value selection over the sticks as Aintree feels like it was a long time ago. Summer jumps is indeed one genre that I never get involved in so my analysis may indeed prove to be laden with mistakes.
It is highly probable though that on decent going that the higher rated horses hold a considerable upper hand and should prove their class. Therefore I would be most willing to dismiss the bottom seven on the racecard set to run off the minimum 10st weight.
Mumbles Head features prominently in the betting but despite winning on his last two starts, including over C&D, he is aged 11 and has never won a Class 2 race in his life. That would concern me, in a big field, at odds of just 6-1. The horse he beat into 2nd that day had also never won a Class 2 race in his life and was also aged 11! On paper, this horse should be a 14-1 chance at best.
Gordon Elliot has a very encouraging record at the venue, but his horses over chase fences are often overbet as a result and his two runners this afternoon Trendelenburg and Cottage Oak appear to have a bit to find on form to feature in the finish.
Degas Art won well last time out over C&D, but with just three runners lined up and the 2nd proving to be a non stayer the form has more than a note of caution added to it. In a truly run race over the distance, he may wilt in the latter stages, for trainer Lucinda Russell.
At this stage of my evaluation I have eliminated every runner outside of the TOP SIX on the racecard and this is perhaps where it becomes a little more difficult to assess.
Aurora's Encore is the topweight in this event on a rising mark that currently lies at 150. There is no doubt that the horse is in the form of his life with a very strong effort to finish runner up in the Scottish National last time out. but there is a reason to believe that he may not quite be at his best here.
Anyone who reads the form closely with an analytical approach will have noticed themselves that when the horse has won throughout his career, it has been after a recent run. With an absence of 50 days to overcome and on a career high mark for a trip short of his ideal best, he cannot be considered value.
Zitenka is a Tim Easterby trainer chaser who has shown some promising form this season. He featured as the runner up in two class 2 contests of much lower marks before he finally tasted success last time out, under jockey Tony McCoy. A change of jockeys to Lucy Alexander and a sizeable penalty of 10lb for that most recent success have me doubting his chance enough to pass him over.
Fairoak Lad had a long 494 day absence to overcome before he began his racing again this season and he has progressed well in his three runs to date. He won quite stylishly when seen last time in the first time blinkers, but back over a shorter trip with a 15lb higher mark to contend with he may struggle. With no guarantee the blinkers will work a second time, he is just about ignored as a value option.
Cootehill is a model of consistency and a probable each way player at a fair price for this contest. For win purposes however his mark looks high enough and there are likely to be a couple more with bigger claims.
One of those with undoubted claims is the 9-2 favourite Shoegazer, trained by David Pipe. He has beaten little so far in his chasing career, but has done it stylishly enough to warrant an interest at this higher level. Whether or not he deserves to be such a short price in the betting is another matter with bookmakers being collective in their assessment of his chance it would seem. First time blinkers may well bring about additional improvement to score here, but with limited experience over fences I am not feeling those much needed value vibes. He looks very much as if he is a big contender though with massive place claims at the very least.
With the approach known deep down that it is all about value and not winners, I have chosen to side with the very talented and quite progressive BUCK MULLIGAN. He is used to races of this nature and has previously been tested at a higher level than he is met with this afternoon. Still only a 7yo and with the useful claim of Adam Wedge taking off 3lb, he has all the ingredients to run an assured race.
The selection ran a very encouraging race on his reappearance 21 days ago to finish well in a race that would not have tested his stamina enough. The trip at Perth for this contest looks destined to suit and if he can reconvene and improve for his most recent effort, he has a very big chance of finishing in the frame.
Decent ground and a 3m trip should be the ideal conditions for him to run a very solid race. A prominent racing style should also see him trade at less odds inrunning, and he looks the value option in a very competitive race.
THE BET: BUCK MULLIGAN @ 9-1 (William Hill) (Each Way)
DANGER: SHOEGAZER @ 9-2 (Stan James) not enough value to have a bet for me though.
DONT FORGET that there is a chance I may have read the Perth race incorrectly, it has been a while since I tested myself over the jumps! My flat form may be above average, but it may prove wise to get some second opinions before engaging in a bet on my Perth prediction.