Our racing guru is opening his wallet to back a quintet of horses this afternoon.
There’s competitive action wherever you look this afternoon with Kempton, Newcastle, Chepstow and Lingfield on British duties, and the following five horses might just help you turn a profit.
GAMGOOM (Lingfield 1.45) each-way @ 10/1 Betfair (1/5 odds, 1.2.3)
This Listed sprint sees the return of Group 1 horse Muthmir but he looks opposable under a penalty and for the reason that he has always been better for a run – form figures of 425 for his last three seasonal reappearances. That’s unlikely to stop him going off favourite and that’s just fine as we get to back the selection at a value price and the German raider is going to take some stopping back at the minimum trip. I’m basing that on his latest run over 6f here when he broke smartly and looked certain to score when going clear with just over a furlong to run, only to get collared close home by Rivellino. That was a cracking effort under a 3lb penalty and the form looks strong with the smart Cold As Ice a length and a half away in third. His previous run over 5f at Chelmsford was also solid as he chased home the 109-rated Lancelot Du Lac, to whom he was giving 3lb, and this tough improver has now finished out of the first two only once in eight starts on the all-weather. The expression ‘each-way bet to nothing comes to mind here.
CORK CITIZEN (Betfred Eider Chase, Newcastle 2.50) each-way @ 20/1 bet365 (¼ odds, 126.96.36.199)
Kerry Lee has become the go-to trainer in the big Saturday races and her Russe Blanc is disputing favouritism for this four-miler at around the 7/1 mark. He’s tempting as he stays all day and loves the mud but a 12lb rise makes life tougher for him and, at the odds, he’s swerved for the David Pipe-trained selection, who looks solid each-way value at 20/1. The eight-year-old was having his first run for the stable when finishing a promising second at Taunton recently over a trip shorter than ideal and he remains unexposed in Britain off what is potentially a generous mark of 125. He was a prolific winner in Irish point-to-points on deep ground and the fact his winning margins were never more than three lengths suggests he’s the sort of horse who saves a bit for himself and will keep finding. And let’s face it he wouldn’t be the first horse to improve for the switch to the Pipe stable, who won this race with Comply Or Die in 2008. With the impressive David Noonan taking 5/1 off his back, he will carry the feather weight of 10st 2lb and, providing he stays this far (promises to), he has to be involved at the finish.
THEATRE FLAME (Chepstow 3.10) @ best morning-line price
Several of the runners for this 2m handicap hurdle are struggling for form and the two last-time-out winners are opposable off their revised marks. The selection was himself well beaten when last seen out at Huntingdon earlier this month but as that was his first run since July he can be expected to come on considerably for the outing. Having shown promise in his first two Irish bumpers and when second in a Clonmel maiden hurdle, he was heavily punted on his Uttoxeter debut for his current trainer David Bridgwater and he didn’t let his supporters down, winning comfortably under today’s pilot Tom Scudamore (20% strike rate on the stable runners), before finding the ground too quick when only fourth at Worcester on his next start. Bridgwater, who described him as a “lovely individual” in a recent interview, has entered him in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and, while that may be slightly ambitious, he ought to be up to winning a small race like this off his current rating of 120.
THEATRE GUIDE (Betbright Chase, Kempton 3.35) @ 8/1 bet365
This looks a cracking renewal and ideally you’re looking for a horse with a few pounds in hand over the handicapper. The selection fits that bill as he is 10lb lower than last season’s peak rating of 149 and off the same mark as when finishing second to Smad Place in this season’s Hennessy Gold Cup at Newbury. There must be something about that race (big field, fast pace) that brings out the best in him as he also finished third in the 2014 renewal (off 6lb higher). But he’s no Newbury specialist as he’s gone well here too, including when dead-heating in a conditions race last season, and he would have won a Grade 2 novice but for falling at the last earlier in his career. A distant third to Smad Place in a Cheltenham Grade 2 on heavy when last seen, he will appreciate today’s better ground and he has been working well ahead of this, with his trainer Colin Tizzard saying that he had been finishing closer to his regular work partner than he usually does. That horse’s name? Cue Card – enough said.
CERNUNNOS (Kempton 4.45) @ best morning-line price
Tom George’s gelding has taken time to come to himself, having shown useful form when trained in France, and was gaining his first success in four British starts at Leicester three weeks ago. However, he won comfortably from two previous winners and he is just the type that his trainer excels, so there are grounds for thinking he can defy a 9lb rise now reunited with Barry Geraghty and taking on rivals many of whom have questions to answer. The drying ground is a slight concern as he seemed to relish soft last time but he did win on “good” in his native France and connections clearly rate him as he has been given an entry in the Brown Advisory Plate at the Cheltenham Festival, for which he gets a 25/1 quote from bet365. Given his current rating of 129, he’s going to need to go up a few pounds to stand a decent chance of getting a run and victory here would be do very nicely in that respect.