Horse Racing Previews

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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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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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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Horse Racing: Weekend tips and preview

Written by Gary McDaniel.

By Gary McDaniel:
Well I've been in hibernation of late which is mostly due to work commitments but I thought I would check in to say that over the coming months of 2013 I'm hoping to improve the blog. I will also be offering much more of a Scottish angle to racing via The Away End website. My new column will look to bring you interviews and features from those involved in Scottish racing. The blog will provide tips and views on the wider issues of horse racing in the UK and beyond.

The weather has certainly had an effect on jumps racing in Britain of late but hopefully all systems are go for the Cheltenham Festival Trails meeting tomorrow. There will be a 7am precautionary inspection to make sure the track is raceable after a week of snow. The Gloucestershire track is pretty confident that they will not have to delay the meeting for 24 hours, so fingers crossed.

Tomorrow's planned 8 race card is important for preparations and pointers to March's spectacular 4 day festival in the Cotswolds. I'll run through the card and give you my tips for each race.

12:10, JCB Triumph Hurdle Trial (Registered As The Finesse Juvenile Hurdle) (Grade 2) (Class 1)  (4YO only) - 2m 1f

As per usual on a Saturday card there is a big battle between the mighty stables of Paul Nicholls and Nicky Henderson. The Nicholls trained Irish Saint comes into this as the strong favourite but I am going to oppose and opt for Rolling Star from the Henderson yard. This French bred juvenile just might improve in a big way.

12:40, Timeform Novices' Handicap Chase (Class 2)  (5YO plus) - 2m 5f

For me Sizing Santiago might be the hidden gem in this novice chase. I've no real confidence behind it but it might be worth an each way gamble.

13:15, Murphy Group Chase (Grade 3 Handicap) (Class 1)  (5YO plus) - 2m 5f

To be honest I cannot choose between the two at the head of the market. Both Katenko and Bold Sir Brian were very impressive on their last outings at Sandown. My heart says Bold Sir Brian, due to it being trained by Scotland's Lucinda Russell, but my head says Katenko, who landed me a massive gamble last time out. Eani Meani Mani Mo..................

13:50, Victor Chandler Chase (Registered As The Clarence House Chase) (Grade 1) (Class 1)  (5YO plus) - 2m 110y

Let's face it Sprinter Sacre is the Frankel over fences, he's a superb horse. So for each way value I'm possibly sticking a few quid on Kumbeshwar who finished behind him at Sandown and ran a decent race at Kempton over Christmas behind Sanctuaire.

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