Richard Johnson travels to Carlisle for six rides and all have solid winning chances.
The winners are continuing to flow for Richard Johnson, who has built up a healthy advantage at the top of the jockeys’ table, and he has a strong book of rides at Carlisle this afternoon.
All six are forecast to go off favourite or second favourite and it’s a shame he’s without a ride in the 2m4f handicap chase (4.55pm) as he might have had a serious shot at going through the card. Already boasting a 33% (6-18) strike rate from all his rides here over the last five seasons, that could be even higher at the end of the day and the temptation is to combine them in trebles, four-folds and an accumulator.
When I have those sort of bets, one or two invariably let me down, but it’s unlikely to be WESTERN MILLER in the opening 2m4f novices’ hurdle (2.20pm). He has finished runner-up on both his starts in bumpers, including on his reappearance at Worcester last month, where he had some promising sorts behind, and he’s bred to stay this sort of trip and jump hurdles. He gets weight from the penalised pair of Classic Palace and Tickenwolf, and should have a fitness edge over winning pointer Jonniesofa, with the rest much harder to fancy. BetVictor go a best-priced even money.
I fancy his next ride, the Brian Ellison-trained THE GREY TAYLOR, who is favourite for the 2m Beginners’ Chase (2.50pm), even more and if you’re after one horse to back today, he’d be the one at Paddy Power’s 10/11 (8/11 generally). Twice a winner over hurdles last season, he’s reportedly summered well and was “very good” according to his trainer when schooled over the bigger obstacles. Indeed, Ellison made him his ‘trainer’s pick’ in a recent Stable Tour and he looks to have found an ideal opening for him to open his account.
Johnson has already steered SHEAR ROCK (5/2 Ladbrokes) to three successes this term and the five-year-old should make a bold bid to land the four-timer in the 2m1f handicap hurdle (3.25pm). Allowing him to bowl along at the head of affairs has been the making of this horse and I liked the way he battled back after being headed at Fontwell last time over this trip. The stiffer nature of this track will suit him better and, while he’s up 6lb and has to give plenty of weight to John Ferguson’s progressive three-year-old Hadfield, I fancy he’s up to the task.
Charlie Longsdon, the trainer of Western Miller and Shear Rock, runs Orange Nassau in the 3m2f Handicap Chase (3.55pm) and he looks to have a solid chance, so it’s significant that Johnson has elected to ride Philip Kirby’s COURTOWN OSCAR (13/8 Paddy Power) instead – I’m assuming he had the choice. His mount is returning from a 169-break, but is chasing a hat-trick following wins here over hurdles and on his chase debut at Uttoxeter, where he beat subsequent winner, and is another who got a very favourable mention in a Stable Tour. Ideally he wants it softer than the current “good”, so I’m hoping the forecast overnight rain materialises.
The 2m4f handicap hurdle (4.25pm) is the most competitive race of the entire meeting, but Johnson has the plum ride on James Moffat’s AMUSE ME (3/1 Paddy Power), who is bidding to defy a 7lb penalty for his recent wide-margin Sedgefield success. The nine-year-old has been in great form over the summer and won over fences at Worcester in July under Johnson, but he’s now better handicapped over hurdles and will take some stopping.
Longsdon, who himself boasts a highly respectable strike rate at the track of 27%, provides Johnston’s final ride of the day in the 2m1f bumper in the shape of MONBEG CHARMER (7/4 BetVictor). The four-year-old was an impressive winner of his only start in an Irish point-to-point (form boosted since) and was subsequently snapped up at the sales for £120,000. He looks sure to make his mark over hurdles later on, but he’s not short of speed – something he no doubt inherited from his sire Daylami – and it will be a surprise if he can’t win one of these. The fact he’s taking on some promising types helps his price, though he’ll likely be long odds-on if Johnson has ridden three or more winners come the last. Take the price!
So, with six horses fancied at relatively short prices, the suggestion is to combine them in a multiple bet and a full cover of the trebles (20) and four-folds (15) amounts to 35 bets. Alternatively, you might want to be a little more greedy and work in the six five-folds (maybe drop the trebles?) and you’d be daft not to have the accumulator, just in case. If you want to keep it more simple, the suggested double is The Grey Taylor and Courtown Oscar, which pays just over 4/1 with Paddy Power.
All prices were correct at the time of writing and are Best Odds Guaranteed – get paid out at the starting price if it’s bigger.