Bop It bounced back to form with a fine performance, one that would rate as a career best. Sadly, he found a couple too good on the day, mainly due to not hitting his full stride until it was too late. He may prove to be a better animal over 6f on a flat track, but only when the ground is very quick. Getting cover seems to be a massive benefit for him and remains one to keep on side. Getting his ground from here on will be tough though and it's possible that he won't find many good opportunities until next season comes around.
Julius Geezer ran below form, with the draw seeming to hinder his chances somewhat, though he wasn't going to be playing a hand in any regard. The other, Rakaan, travelled fine but went out like a light. Modest.
-3.00pts on the day. Form of last 10 selections; 5-7-0-4-8-4-3-3-0-8 (0 winners & 2 places).
Was hoping to take things handy this month but there are just so many races that interest me lately, with plenty of horses who I've been keeping an eye on lining up to race. Hopefully it'll calm down quite soon, but certainly isn't today with a total of five selections coming at Ascot and Haydock. One winner would be nice, just to cover the day, and anything else would be most welcomed! I am certainly not overly confident given the nature of the races but they're all live ones in my opinion, more solid types than I'd usually go for and hopefully that could reap rewards. Sadly, my Saturday punting just has not been up to scratch for a while now and it in particular is going to need to be improved upon, but I've got a fair idea where I've been going wrong. That's no good without some luck though and it'd be nice if that'd return soon. Anyway, have a good day folks and if I've failed again, then I hope that your own punting comes up trumps. Take it easy.
Lexi's Hero generally runs fairly consistent races but to be fair to him, he's very reliant on things going his way and always comes with plenty of risks attached. However, the handicapper is treating him favourably this season and off a mark of 90, has to be considered in this 5f event. This will be the first time that Kevin Ryan's 4-year-old drops back to the minimum trip since his opening run of the year and that's a positive in my book, despite his only win over the trip coming in a maiden. His career-best performance came over 6f at York, when he landed the very valuable Bond Tyres Handicap off a mark of 95 in July of last year and he followed that up with a second place over the same trip at Newmarket a few weeks later, in another ultra-competitive event off 100. He obviously hasn't run to that level this time around, but is clearly a real classy sprint handicapper on his day and looks very well-handicapped for when he does return to form properly. His latest outing came at Chester, a track that you'd think would suit, but he failed to give his true running despite being strong in the market and sent off as the 11/4 favourite. Previous to that he ran well for a long way in the Great St Wilfred at Ripon but it was his outing previous to that which gives me most hope, when beaten 4-lengths in the Stewards' Cup at Goodwood off a mark of 97. He was still bang there with every chance until entering the last of 6f and just didn't see his race out from what was a not so great draw, so it's an effort worthy of marking up in my opinion. How the draw in stall 4 will affect him today is beyond me (I always get it wrong anyway so taking a shot in the dark!) but if he's not unsuited to the run of the race (by that I mean having his chance ruined by the other pace angles) then he should love everything else about the 5f at Haydock. The yard are in good form, his owner likes having winners here and Graham Lee is an ideal man to have up. It's a risky one for sure, but off his current mark I can't let him go unbacked at 14's.
David Barron rarely gets much luck when venturing to Ascot but Bertiewhittle could hopefully change that around and looks overpriced to do so, now that he looks to be a true 7f performer. This 4-year-old gelding still seems to be on the upgrade, despite having an exposed look to his form, and nearly caused a bit of an upset in the International Stakes over C&D at the Royal meeting in July. He burst through from the rear to take up the running with about a furlong to go, but was run out of it by a couple of stonger stayers who also possess more class. It was an excellent effort though, one that I wasn't completely sure he could go on to post over 7f but was happily proved wrong. He disappointed back over 6f when sent off at a short price for the Great St Wilfred but Ripon wouldn't be his sort of track in any regard and he quickly put that run behind him when again finishing strongly from the rear in a valuable handicap at Goodwood. That was off today's mark, on good-to-soft ground and he's better on better ground in my opinion, so it needs marking up. The handicapper probably could have bumped his mark up by a couple of lbs for that run but hasn't, and he has a good chance of getting his season off the mark if in the same form just a couple of weeks later. William Carson takes over and although he's quite a good pilot, he's never ridden an Ascot winner and I hate statistics like that, though he has only had 20 attempts (19 of which were double-figured prices). The Barron yard are at least in good form and there's plenty of money up for grabs, so he will be a trier! If he's in the same form as his third here and recent Goodwood fourth, then he has to go really close.
Lyric Street was given a rather clueless ride over 2-miles at Ascot last time out, when ridden by a modest American jockey who kept him wide throughout and just couldn't get him to settle through the race. Seeing Richard Hughes take over in the plate is a sure-fire plus and Ed Dunlop's 4-year-old can do what he has always looked capable of doing, by landing what is a nice staying handicap. With all things considered, he didn't run badly at the Shergar Cup meeting but would have surely performed a lot better had he received anything like a competent ride. It is his outing previous to that, over today's 1m 6f trip but at York, that most attracts me as he ran a stormer to finish third of 12 in the John Smith's Silver Cup. On that occasion, he travelled into contention going smoothly, took up the running 3f out under Paul Mulrennan and tried to kick for home, but then got outstayed, or possibly outclassed, by High Jinx and the winner, Mount Athos. The form of the two ahead of him is rock-solid and if he was coming here on the back of that performance then he surely wouldn't be available at anything near the 7/1 mark. He certainly won't be facing any rivals with the ability of the two that were ahead of him at York and if he's in the same form then he holds a favourites chance of landing the spoils here. The Ed Dunlop yard are on fire over the past couple of weeks, with no fewer than 6 winners and a number of places from just 20 runners. The ground has come perfect for him as well and although he disappointed when favourite on his only course start (ground too soft), Haydock is the type of place where he should excel. Hughes seems the ideal man for him as well and all points towards a big run. He's not a 7/1 shot in my opinion and is worthy of having a 2pt bet on. Here's hoping.
This is a horribly tough race but I cannot help but think that Stencive has a nice race in him off his current mark and although he looks the Haggas second string based on what the market is telling us, he is not one to underestimate. The 3-year-old colt comes here on the back of a half-length defeat to the favourite for today's race, Gospel Choir, but has a 3lb swing in the weights with that rival and I fail to see why he should be twice the price. That contest was run over today's 1m 4f trip at Haydock, in which the Haggas representative travelled powerfully throughout and looked likely to win entering the final furlong (traded at 1.12), only to find the relentless galloping powers of Soute's charge all too much. I do, however, think that the nature of the Ascot track could help to turn things in our favour here and the big field will help too, as he's a keen-going sort who should prove to be a lot better when relaxing during his races. Fast ground is what he's after, so he's going to have something like his optimum conditions and I highly doubt that he's going to be lacking for class, despite the obviously competitive nature of the race. A lot of good luck will be required if he's to win, but his current mark isn't restrictive and Eddie Ahern is booked to ride at a track that he knows well (also has 20% strike-rate for yard; 18-92). The biggest danger is the opposition, which is hardly a mind-blowing statement but so many of them are true unknown quantities that could have plenty hidden up their sleeves yet. It's hard to get to grips with the race but Stencive is worth a punt at the prices.
Can't say that Aazif is stunning value at the prices or anything but he has plenty of solid form in the book despite being a lightly-raced sort and promises - on both breeding and run-style - to be better suited to stepping up in trip, which he does now. John Dunlop's yard spent some time in the doldrums, with only 3 winners in the first four months of the flat season but things have picked up well of late, with 8 managing to win since the start of August and it's great to see. Today, his nicely improving 3-year-old looks to have outstanding claims in what isn't a great race and can hopefully gain his first handicap win. On the last two outings that he has had, he filled the runners-up position but wasn't ridden to be seen to best effect on his penultimate start and the in-form and rapidly improving Brockwell got the better of him at this track four weeks ago. Our selection has gone up by 4lbs for that run but the general form looks solid and the winner bolted up over the same C&D on Thursday off a 7lb higher mark, adding further strength to an already nice looking race. This will only be the seventh outing for the Dunlop animal, his third since being gelded and he looks certain to end up in the winners' enclosure before too long. The step up in trip is going to help, he'll enjoy the ground, will most likely get a race run to suit and like the previous selection, has Richard Hughes on board (10-54 for yard). At 3/1, he's hardly a mind-blowing price but Between Us is too short for my liking and their positions in the market should be a bit different. I wouldn't be overly worried about any of the rest, though could be proved spectacularly wrong there. The usual stakes will do no harm anyway.
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