Horse Racing

Horse Racing: Ayr we go for Gold Cup

Written by Gary McDaniel.

TODAY is Scotland's premier flat meeting, the Ayr Gold Cup Festival. To those of you who have followed racing in Scotland for many years it is better known as the Western Meeting.

Three days of top class racing are upon us as all the action gears up to Saturday's feature event, the Ayr Gold Cup, which is the richest sprint handicap in Europe.

The meeting is the highlight in the Scottish flat racing calendar and will be attended by over 20,000 racing fans across the three days. Ayrshire punters get right behind the meeting as well as an influx of racegoers from across the country, especially from Glasgow. It also has a massive impact on the local economy, as hotels, pubs and restaurants are packed to the rafters.

The Gold Cup Festival means as much to Ayr as the St Leger meeting is to Doncaster or the Northumberland Plate fixture is to Newcastle. There have been rumours as to whether Doncaster's St Leger Festival should be moved so it will not coincide with Irish Champions weekend at the Curragh next year. Well it cannot move to the following week as it will clash with Ayr and that would be very damaging for British and Scottish racing. The racing calendar is pretty tight in September, with Haydock's Sprint Cup meeting the week before Doncaster as well. I can understand the frustrations that have been voiced by those at Doncaster but it can face up to the challenge set by Irish Champions weekend. It would be ideal if the Curragh held it's major group 1 races on the Sunday.

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Horse Racing: Weekend preview and tips

Written by Gary McDaniel.

GLORIOUS Goodwood and the Galway Festival have both passed me by this week. Work has been so hectic recently that I've been left to catch up with the replays on Racing UK in the evenings.

It is frustrating during the summer when the big meetings are on and you are stuck in an office all day. I did manage to catch some of the live action on Wednesday, specifically the much anticipated Sussex Stakes. I was with Dawn Approach but I credit Toronado for an excellent performance. I am though still of the opinion that Jim Bolger's 2000 Guineas winner is still too keen early on in his races.

Saturday punting hasn't been much of a success for me of late. It's left me with as bad a strike rate as Frankie Dettori. Hopefully fortunes will change this weekend. There was though a surprise success for me this evening when my dad quickly called me before the 7.50 at Musselburgh. He had been talking up the chances of Noodles Blue Boy in the feature race at the Lothian's track. I had dismissed the old boy's chances but agreed to stick a few quid each way. Low and behold he wins at 40/1. Cheers Dad!

So to tomorrow's racing and the cavalry charge that is the Steward's Cup. I have followed Hawkeyethenoo off the edge of a cliff this season so far. I am though going to avoid him in this race, OK I might have a nibble as he is drawn well. The Jim Goldie charge hasn't produced his best of late and may well require some cut in the ground now. So my attentions are elsewhere and Shropshire has been on my radar this summer, placed in the Wokingham at Royal Ascot behind York Glory, he has a chance at reversing that result. I am though put off by his draw so I'm edging towards a small bet on Racy, trained by Brian Ellison. Was second last time out and is hitting form at the right time. He is off a low weight so should go well.

In terms of class the Group 1 Nassau Stakes is the highlight on the Goodwood card. Sky Lantern and the Hannon team are still smarting after losing their appeal to overturn the result of the Falmouth Stakes at Newmarket, when beaten by Elusive Kate. That form was franked when the latter won in France last week. Integral, from the Stoute team, is a massive threat after an eye catching win at Sandown. I'm though still taken by Sky Lantern and happy with the trip of over 1 mile 1 furlong. She was so classy in the Coronation Stakes that I will settle with that form.

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Perth races will have you jumping for joy

Written by Gary McDaniel.

PERTH racecourse is the UK's most northerly racecourse and one of the nations most historic. Racing began at Perth, at South Inch, in 1613 and has been thrilling crowds ever since.

The course is now located within the grounds of Scone Palace Park after it relocated there in 1908. The track stages racing throughout the Spring and Summer months, when the weather is supposed to be at it's best.

Perth hosts national hunt racing with some top class action throughout it's season. The highlight is the Perth Gold Cup in June, which sees horses from across the UK and Ireland compete for a healthy prize fund. The season gets underway in April with the three day festival. Other noteworthy fixtures is the STV Appeal day in August, the track's only Saturday meeting, and the big finale which is Perth's oldest fixture.

Top Irish trainer Gordon Elliot has a fantastic strike rate at Perth and is well worth following. Local trainer Lucinda Russell also enjoys plenty of success at the track. Top jockey's such as AP McCoy, Tom Scudamore, Jason Maguire and Lucy Alexander are regularly in action at Perth.

The track is well worth a visit whether your a big racing fan or if you are just looking for somewhere to take the family for the day. There is entertainment for all on many of their race days or nights.

It may be a small track but there is plenty of room. Especially on sunny days when the centre of the course opens up for those wishing to take a picnic or visit the funfair.

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Pay a visit to Hamilton Park to ignite your spark for racing

Written by Gary McDaniel.

SCOTTISH racing is thriving at the moment and there is no better way to experience this by paying a visit to one of Scotland’s five racecourses. Over the coming weeks I will be focusing on each of the tracks and telling you why you should be going along to watch the action. In this edition we will be focusing on Hamilton Park.

The Lanarkshire track is a cracking little course, ideal for people new to the sport or those who enjoy exciting action with a party atmosphere.

The track known as the Goodwood of the north, due to its buttonhook and stiff uphill finish, is noted for its enthralling finishes. Not a meeting goes by without the judge being called to decide the outcome of a tight finish. This just adds to the excitement and tension which grips the modern and quaint surroundings of the racecourse as they wait for the result.

Hamilton Park features only flat racing and operates from May to late September or early October. It has a mixture of afternoon and evening meetings; in fact Hamilton was the first UK track to stage an evening fixture. The night meetings are very popular throughout May to August and it’s not just for those looking to enjoy a few drinks and soak up the racing but also many of the meetings are for the whole family.

The nights which stick out on the racing calendar are Braveheart night in May, Saints & Sinners Night in June, The Glasgow Friday Night Fair meeting in July and Ladies Night in early August.

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Dawn Approaches the 2000 Guineas as still the horse to beat

Written by Gary McDaniel.

It's the first classics of the flat season this weekend, which marks the beginning of the summer, doesn't it? Well the weather down south certainly seems to indicate that, compared to our wet end to the week north of the border.

The going at Newmarket looks to be quick as it prepares to stage it's two day Guineas meeting. I'm chuffed that we have a top class card on Sunday as well, a much underused day on the British racing calendar.

First up though we have the 2000 Guineas on Saturday at 3.50. Over the winter Dawn Approach was the market favourite for this race. You would have been surprised back then if you someone were to have said that come the day, of the race, the Jim Bolger trained 3 year-old may not go off as favourite. That might indeed be the case as the Richard Hannon trained Toranado has came through to be a hot ticket after his impressive performance in the Craven Stakes a couple of weeks ago. He handled the Rowley Mile well and looks to have a heck of a chance at upsetting the Godolphin owned Dawn Approach. This is possibly also due to the fact that the latter has not had a prep race prior to the first classic of the year. I like Toranado but we shouldn't forget how impressive Dawn Approach was as a 2 year-old, there was talk of him being the new Frankel. He has experience of Newmarket as well, having won the Dewhurst back in the Autumn. For me he is still the horse to beat as I think he will be even better as a 3 year old.
 
 
 
 
 
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All eyes on the Grand National

Written by Gary McDaniel.

ASK anyone to name a famous horse race in Britain and the most popular answer is likely to be the Grand National.

The race sparks interest amongst a large majority of the British population. It’s an event which leads for many to have their only bet of the year. While racing fans, such as myself, mull over the form book and statistics to find a winner.

This year the great race has a spotlight shone on it like never before. There has always been criticism of the National, in some quarters, about horse welfare and those that believe the race is cruel. Changes have been made over the years to the fences to improve safety for both horse and jockey. Over the past couple of years though there has been further pressure applied for more changes. Some of this pressure has been successful as the race has been shortened and the fences have went through another change.

The last two races have seen four horses lose their lives due to injury and this has gained a lot of media attention beyond the sports pages. For the first time, I can remember, there is a question mark over the future of the Grand National. Not necessarily the running of the race but more the actual task and challenge that faces both horse and jockey.

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Cheltenham Gold Cup Preview

Written by Gary McDaniel.

YESTERDAY was a tough day for racing after the serious injury suffered by amateur jockey JT McNamara on Galaxy Rock. He was placed into an induced coma after difficulty breathing. Lets hope JT, a guy who races for the love of the sport, pulls through.

Betting wise yesterday was an even par round I would say. Cue Card winning the Ryanair Chase was a big plus. He was a horse who many placed doubts upon and the same applies to my tip in today's Gold Cup, 3.20. Sir Des Champs also has his doubters but I'm keen on his chances. Willie Mullins has had a great Festival so far and winning the Gold Cup would top it off. The Gigginstown owned charge won the Irish Hennessy last time out beating the highly regarded Flemenstar. That was on soft ground and although I believe he prefers better ground I'm sticking by him after placing faith in him last year. He faces tough opposition in the likes of Bobs Worth, Silvinaco Conti and Long Run. I think the latter will be the one to beat as there are good vibes coming from the Henderson yard.

We start off the day with the Triumph Hurdle, 1.30, and I'll pin my colours to Rolling Star. He's got the stamina to see out the trip, which can be a test on the new course.

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Cheltenham Day Three Preview and Tips

Written by Gary McDaniel.

WE are halfway through the Festival and we have been treated to some fine racing. In fact at times it has been spectacular. Sprinter Sacre certainly was that yesterday even though there were a couple of untidy jumps. He did though put a top class horse, Sizing Europe, in his place and will now look to dominate the 2 mile chasing division in the future.

It's so far been a disappointing meeting for both champion trainer Paul Nicholls and champion jockey AP McCoy. I'm sure though they both will be determined to change that over the next 2 days.

In contrast Ruby Walsh is buzzing and looks as happy as I've seen him at Cheltenham and no wonder.

Betting wise it was a much better day for my tips. The New One ran a cracker in the Neptune and looks a real class act. He'll hopefully go for the Champion Hurdle next season. In the Champion Bumper, Briar Hill went in at a massive 25/1. Ruby Walsh on a Mullins horse at that price? I just liked the horse's profile and thought he'd act on better ground. I also had some return on Godsmejudge and Master Of The Sea on each way punts.

So we now have day 3 and the World Hurdle is the highlight, in terms of class. With Big Buck's missing through injury it's now an open race. Rev De Sivola will not be happy with the drying ground, although we will wait to hear the going on the new course. Oscar Whisky is another well fancied runner but I have my doubts about him being a genuine 3 miler. So I switch my attentions to Peddlers Cross whose jockey, Jason Maguire, advised trainer, Donald McCain, that after his victory at Musselburgh he is a World Hurdle horse. He has a touch of class and looks to get his career back on track after having a disappointing time over fences. Smad Place may also benefit for better ground so has each way value.

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