A very tricky Saturday, as most are these days.
My first bets are in the hot handicap at Ascot at 3.00. A while back I tipped Mister Medic on this blog, having fancied him strongly for the BetVictor. He was just moving into contention four out there when he blundered so badly he almost dumped his jockey. He finished 6th.
I had spotted him the time before at Ascot where he’s unbeaten in two steeplechases. Back at the track today I’m hoping he’ll show that he would indeed have figured in the finish of that big Cheltenham race. I’ve bet him at 8/1. which is generally available.
But . . . I am going to have just 25% of my race stake on him. The other 75% will go on Happy Diva, so impressed was I with her last time behind Aso, a horse I think will figure at the business end of the Ryanair Chase in March.
Happy Diva is a bonny wee mare, enthusiastic, game and, touch wood, a fine jumper. At 8 she is still improving and the talented claimer Richard Patrick takes off 3lbs. She can be backed at 10/1 with four online bookies.
If you prefer EW betting, a few bookies offer an extra place in this race. Best way too check is on Oddschecker and look just above the first line of odds (see red arrow on image below)
In the 4.05 at Ascot, £350,000 purchase Downtown Getaway gets another chance to show what He’s really worth after embarrassing connections first time out at Newbury. Moonlighter was in that race too and was, to my eye, travelling best of all before taking a heavy fall two out.
He’d won at Huntingdon prior to that, jumping the last as though it were the first and galloping right through the line. He took a bit of pulling up that day and looks a really good prospect. The extra distance today should suit and I recommend an each way bet at 5/1, just in case the favourite here turns out to be something special after all.
At Haydock, I have just one bet for now – more in the morning – and that is One For Arthur in the big race at 3.15. I’m astounded that this horse is available at 16/1 to four places.
He hasn’t had a proper race since winning the Grand National in 2017. He suffered an injury in training and then got only as far as the third fence when unseating (most uncharacteristic) Tom Scudamore at Aintree 42 days ago.
He looked really well that day and has had a numerous entries, none so far taken up as he waited for easier ground. But that readiness to race belies, I think, the widely held expectation that he won’t be fit enough for this. His trainer knows what she’s doing and he certainly looked fit enough at Aintree.
I backed him for the National after seeing him win at Warwick on his previous run, coming smoothly from a long way back – a tough thing to do at Warwick off a good pace – pinging the last and powering home looking the epitome of an improving young chaser.
He came almost as smoothly from a long way back at Aintree and as he took it up and began pulling away I began thinking he could well turn into a Gold Cup outsider for the following year. I’ve never before thought that of a Grand National winner. Sometimes, the race finishes them, so tough is it stamina-wise.
The other assumption the bookies appear to be making is that this trip will be way too short for him. I don’t believe that’s the case. It’ll be run at a solid pace on good to soft ground and One For Arthur has won over 2m3f.
Most importantly to my mind is that One For Arthur was still very much on an upward curve when we last saw him win. If he retains only the ability he had and his progress stalled at that point, I’m completely confident he would beat this field.
It bears repeating: 16/1 is a daft price. I’ve had one each way bet on him to four places and several other bets win only. If he loses, I will sleep comfortably knowing the bets I made were more than sensible. He is twice the price he should be and on that alone he should be backed without hesitation.
Check back in about noon tomorrow when I’ve had a chance to look at the other Haydock races.
Saturday update: I see One For Arthur has drifted further and can now be backed at 25/1 to 4 places. Drifting horses don’t bother me, so long as I feel my logic is sound and I do and have backed him again at 28/1 on the exchange.
Final tip for the day is in the last at Haydock, the 4.15 where the improving Teescomponents Lad looks very good value at 8/1 to 4 places with Skybet. He had two promising runs the season before a step up in trip last time to record a convincing victory, travelling well throughout and winning comfortably under a good ride by 7lb claiming amateur Mister Joe Williamson who rides again today.
Today’s trip is almost 4 furlongs farther than his last race and should see him to even better advantage. He’s another to add to the EW doubles and trebles with today’s other selections.