Malcolm Heyhoes Top Tips for Augusts UK Horse Racing

Oct 30 23:05 2006 Malcolm Heyhoe Print This Article

A preview of the upcoming UK horse racing action for November and a sneek-peek at the horses to keep an eye out for.

Big isn’t always best in racing but when it comes to the Breeders’ Cup,Guest Posting which returns to Churchill Downs in Kentucky on November 4, the size of the prize-money on offer - almost £10 million pounds in total - makes this quite simply the richest race meeting in the world.

There are eight top-class contests at the racetrack made famous by the Kentucky Derby and this enthralling series of events provide British punters with their main opportunity of the year to bet on US races. Throw in televised coverage of every minute of action and you have the recipe for a must-see event. Fortunately the crisp and cool Kentucky fall makes for a suitable climate for European raiders while the extra long straights and sharp turns also make this an inviting course for the European challenge.

For betting purposes it’s always prudent to concentrate upon the turf races where the European raiders are traditionally strong. This time around the reverse is true in the Breeders’ Cup Mile where the American pair Aragorn and Gorella will be hard to beat. The latter comes into the Mile at the top of her form and is one of only four fillies ever to have earned prize-money in the Mile following her gallant third against the boys at Belmont Park in 2005.

In the Filly & Mare Turf, all eyes on this side of the Atlantic will be upon Ouija Board as she seeks to bow out from a luminous career with a second successive victory in the ten furlong contest but danger looms in the guise of Todd Pletcher’s Wait A While, a top-notch filly over this trip. Along with Gorella, she looks about one of the best bets on what is sure to be an unmissable evening’s racing.

The Breeders Cup series takes place on the Saturday evening after racing at Windsor, which is the surprise venue for the traditional last big race of the Flat season in the shape of the November Handicap. A complete re-vamp of Doncaster’s crumbling acres has meant moving the mile and a half contest to the twisting and turning Thames-side track and Brian Ellison’s Tilt is one to watch out for here. Ellison landed this valuable prize with Carte Diamond in 2004 and has trained the tough and versatile Tilt to do the same.

Over at Wincanton on the same day National Hunt racing flexes its muscles with three important early season races beginning with the Rising Stars Novices’ Chase which is likely to be won by the Paul Nicholls-trained Natal, an easy winner on his chasing bow at Exeter the other day and one of the stable’s brightest chasing stars.

Later on the card punters should pay close attention to the Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase which has yielded several winners of the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup while the Elite Hurdle is an early marker for aspirant Champion Hurdle horses and could see the seasonal debut of Noble Request, considered by trainer Philip Hobbs to be a better candidate for top hurdling honours than stable mate Detroit City, a winner of last month’s Cesarewitch at Newmarket.

Jumps racing hits full stride on the following weekend with the wonderful three-day Paddy Power Open meeting at Cheltenham. This is a great fixture for punters and racegoers alike and on the opening day, November 10, I expect to see the well-regarded Pepperoni Pete, an easy winner at Wincanton on his hurdles debut the other day, land the Anglo-Irish Bank Novices’ Hurdle for the all-powerful Paul Nicholls team.

The main action of the Paddy Power weekend takes place on November 11 with the Paddy Power Gold Cup. First run in 1960, this two and a half mile handicap is the first big betting race of the jumps season and one that recently retired trainer Martin Pipe has made his very own in recent years.

It’ll be intriguing to see which horse or horses his son, David, sends out for the big prize, with Celtic Son, a second season chaser rumoured to be one potential candidate for the Pipe team. Traditionally the winner of this valuable prize is a young horse, in its second season over fences that has preferably won or been placed at the previous Cheltenham Festival and that neatly brings Reveillez into the picture. There will be few more plausible Paddy Power candidates than James Fanshawe’s progressive grey.

On November 12, the third and final day of the Paddy Power Open meeting, the novice chasers strut their stuff in the Independent Newspaper Novices’ Chase and once again backers should pay particular attention to any horse that Paul Nicholls runs in this race. Traditionally a stepping stone to a bid for the Arkle Trophy next March, this two mile contest is a must-see for jumps fans.

The same is true of the Greatwood Hurdle over two miles on the same day. This handicap hurdle has become so intensely competitive in recent season that it’s been a launch pad for Champion Hurdle success. This time around Philip Hobbs intends to see whether a victory for Detroit City would allow him to follow the example of the stable’s other famous grey, Rooster Booster, who plundered this prize before going on to success in the Champion Hurdle the following March. Progressive Irish raider Cuan Na Grai also adds spice to the Greatwood mix.

The weekend of November 17 and 18 sees high-class jumps racing at a variety of fixtures beginning with the return of televised National Hunt racing at the realigned and re-modeled Ascot. On November 18, I expect to see Straw Bear, Nick Gifford’s Champion hurdle hope, start his challenging season with a success in the Blue Square Hurdle.

On Saturday November 18 Blue Square sponsor the eponymously-titled Handicap Chase, worth over £50,000 and Harry’s Dream, a recent facile scorer at Kempton has been ear-marked to land this prize by trainer Philip Hobbs while over at Haydock Park the immensely valuable Betfair Lancashire Chase is in its second year and could see Beef Or Salmon and Kingscliff, last year’s winner, clash once again while over at Huntingdon the likes of Impek and Thisthatandtother could make their eagerly-anticipated seasonal debuts in the Peterborough Chase.

On November 19 the Becher Handicap Chase grabs the headlines at Aintree and who can forget the way Clan Royal put up an impressive round over the forbidding Grand National fences to collect this valuable prize in 2004. His exhibition round underlined once again that previous experience at this course is vitally important while carrying a weight below eleven stone is another useful factor to assess when looking for a likely winner. Backers should also pay close attention to runners from the Sue Smith and Paul Nicholls yards.

The curtain comes down on a marvelous month’s racing in November with the Hennessy Cognac Gold Cup at Newbury on November 25. This is one of my favourite betting races of the whole year and as always it’s worth remembering that this is a race for young horses, usually shouldering below eleven stone though Trabolgan made a mockery of that trend when scooting up twelve months ago.

This time around horses such as Copsale Lad, Idle Talk and State Of Play should be to the forefront of the Hennessy picture while on the same day at Newbury watch out for the Long Distance Hurdle which could see World Hurdle contender Mighty Man making his return to action. On the same day at Newcastle there’s the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and on November 26 watch out for Denman and Over The Creek, two crack young chasers who may well be among the runners in the always informative Fulke Walwyn Novices’ Chase at the Berkshire venue.

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