By Tony Calvin
I don’t have the emotional attachment to horses that most people in racing appear to have – it’s a personal failing, no doubt, but the sport is fundamentally about betting to me – but, by God, was I willing on Cue Card in the Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday. And I didn’t have a bean on him.
And probably as much for the jockey Paddy Brennan as the old warrior of a horse, if truth be told.
Perhaps I am mellowing in my old age.
It’s just unfortunate that Waiting Patiently was in the race, as that horse looks some tool. And one that could probably mix it with the top two-milers at the minimum trip, given his favoured soft ground.
There is no such talent on show on Monday, but hopefully I have eked out four horses that will give us a run for our money.
Sentimentality can wait for another year.
Josh Moore gave one of the rides of the season when hauling his old man’s Leo Luna over the line at Plumpton last month, and he will have earned his corn once again if, as hoped, he partners Coolking to victory.
Haydock on Saturday wasn’t too pretty on the eye and 3m5f around Lingfield on bottomless ground won’t be one for the purists, but Coolking has the right credentials for the job.
Granted, his recent form has been pretty woeful and he clearly needs to show a lot more, but at least the handicapper has dropped him 11lb for his three runs this season, and he is now just 2lb higher than when slogging home in the mud at Plumpton last February.
He had earlier forced the pace and ground it out relentlessly for a 23-length win in this race last year (on his debut for Gary Moore), making it two from two at the track, and clearly heavy ground and a test of stamina is what he wants.
He will certainly get the former here; more rain is forecast on Monday, and there was standing water on the track late last week. It’s going to be grim but hopefully profitable.
It was rather annoying, to say the least, to see bet365's 16-1 and the general 14-1 disappear late on Sunday afternoon, and it was 11-1 late on Sunday night. The current price is lean.
This is obviously a run-of-the-mill 0-50 1m3f handicap, so I had to do a double-take when I saw Tony Carroll had won the race four times since 2010.
So naturally I took a look at his Altaira, and I liked what I saw.
He was a one-time pacemaker for Treve when trained in France, where he had winning form over this trip in his own right.
He has been campaigned mainly over 1m here but I just wonder whether he will be asked to go forward from stall one, even over this trip, and he has dropped to a fair mark, just 1lb higher than when winning at Bath four starts ago.
His best form hasn’t come at this track, but a close second in a 1m handicap in March shows he acts on the course, and he is an interesting proposition with a 5lb claimer on board. Aled Beech won on the stable’s Mister Music at Southwell last week.
Mezmaar, who went off 13-2 for the 2011 Coventry Stakes, has been given a real chance by the handicapper and, while stall 10 is clearly not ideal, the price has lured me in. I thought he could even be challenging for favouritism.
He struggles to last home over 1m so a pressing ride over that trip was never likely to see him to best effect here last time. So connections have had a result him being dropped 3lb to a mark of 61.
That is 3lb lower than when a good third here over course and distance on his penultimate start – he has done his winning at the course over 7f from marks in the 70s in the past - and he is tactically versatile depending how he jumps from his wide stall.
Bet365 are the best price at 12-1 but are paying only three places, while Betfair are one point shorter but offer 1/5 the four places.
Pretty Bubbles have been racing over 6f on her last six starts, and doing so pretty moderately on her last two outings.
But the handicapper has dropped her 5lb for those and I like the angle of her stepping up in trip. You can easily argue that 7f is her optimum distance, even if her last three victories have come over 6f, and I think she is on a winning mark once again.
She is a hold-up horse, so Josephine Gordon will probably drop her in from stall one, and hopefully come with a winning late run. Her course form is pretty strong, too, with four wins and a similar number of seconds, albeit from a fair few efforts.
Double-figure prices about her looked very wrong – Betfair and Paddy Power originally went 12s and others were 10s – but the general 13-2 now looks just about acceptable. But my personal stakes will be reduced accordingly.
Tony Calvin's Monday tips:
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