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callitasucit
21 Dec 14 22:21
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Date Joined: 27 Sep 11
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Still a few days away, but there looks to be some value to be had in playing early.

Silviniaco Conti is probably a deserved favourite. Like many others I feel, I have been guilty of not giving this fine sort due credit. Maybe he has suffered from coming in the immediate aftermath of Kauto Star and Denman. He quite possibly could have won the last two Gold Cups only for falling and bizarrely faltering. But to my eye he is more of a slogger than a true top top class 3m chaser. Unfair maybe, but on ground that looks like being less testing than last year, I think he can be taken on.

Champagne Fever is next in the market, and is the real unknown here. I always viewed him as a stayer, and took the 20-1 on offer for next years GC during the off season. He made a fine seasonal debut, though in reality done no more than was expected in the circumstances. He has yet to prove he will stay 3m, though if a horse is going to get it anywhere its at Kempton on less than bottomless ground.

He hasn't lit up Christmas on his previous festive forays, being beaten in a bumper in his first year, then again burning punters fingers in the St Stephens Day feature again at Leopardstown last year. He made a horrendous error that day, and Ruby seemed to mind him after that. But again, worryingly, he didn't seem too interested once headed. I do believe he has issues, but on his day is a joy to watch. I still cant believe he didn't win the Arkle at Chelt after the exhibition of jumping he put in. He battled well that day, as he did when victorious 12 months previously in the Supreme. Its just when something coasts past, he seems to jack it in. Minsk, Jezki, Balder Success and Defy Logic seem to have broken his heart too easily.

All that said, I think he will take all the beating here. I expect Ruby to let him go the front pretty early, and use his exuberant jumping to try and turn the screw on those in behind. I don't think he is worth backing now, as I feel he will certainly drift, and that 4-1 will be freely available on the day.

Current 3rd choice of the market is Al Ferof, another bold jumping grey. He has had his niggles, and maybe hasn't quite fulfilled expectations over fences. When faced with the elite, he has consistently come up short. True he looked superb at Ascot a month ago, but that was a race he was fully entitled to win. His jumping was also flawless. But in his two forays over 3mile, he hasn't proved his stamina. True the ground was very testing here last year, and maybe something was amiss in Newbury last February. But at 6-1, for a horse yet to beat the best over fences, he seems to require too many excuses to be made on his behalf.

Dynaste came here as joint fav last year, and I had been backing him for months. My interest in the race through him didn't quite last as long. A wind op later, he proved successful in the Ryanair at Cheltenham, but that was against animals at least one rung below what he faces here. He had a similar prep to last year in the Betfair Chase, but whether he is quite good enough to topple the best remains to be seen.

Menorah has found a new lease of life this year. He was a surprise winner of the Charlie Hall, but followed that up with a cracking effort in the Betfair, making Sil Conti pull out all the stops. Has he suddenly improved?? I'm sceptical, and if he hasn't he wont be winning. Philip Hobbs had an unreal run for a couple of months, and maybe his charges were a few weeks ahead of his contemporaries.

Wishful Thinking has never promised to beat these type of rivals, while Johns Spirit, Wonderful Charm and Double Ross are not good enough. Double Ross may though have something to say in how the race is run, and hence who it is won by.

[b]Cue Card[/b] at 10-1, in my mind at least, is a cracking each way bet. He too needs a bit of forgiveness, but at least we know he is good enough to take this prize home. If you stop the tape in last years race at 2 out, he's the winner plain and simple. I was halfway through texting Wow to my brother. It had been a superb performance, and he had them cold. Then what happened??

It's hard to say. He had won over a furlong further at Haydock previously, though times suggest that the distance was not as advertised. If it was just lack of stamina, and considering how SC suddenly sailed past him, why was CC staying on again at the line? I think he will stay. No problem.

He was very disappointing last time at Haydock. But its fairly easy offer an excuse for that. He totally lost his jumping rhythm down the back. Yes SC could pressure him again, and a similar result may ensue, but CC is an excellent jumper, and he may simply have had an off day. If Ruby doesn't make an effort to get an early lead on CF, Jacob will surely allow CC to stride on. I would hope they don't try hold him up.

Given the doubts about the other main participants, given that CC started 10-3 joint fav for this last year and looked the best horse in the race for 22 furlongs, the 10-1 on offer seems very big. The 5-2 a place is superb value. Does SC really have as much chance of winning as CC has of placing? Not in my book.

For those who like a trade, given the weather doesn't shout mud bath for Friday, I think CC will be the main market mover, probably going off around the 6-1/13-2 mark, maybe even lower. And as sure as I'm having gravy on my turkey....he wont be 3.5 to place!!

Looking forward to it immensely, just 3 more days to work, and 3 Christmas dinners to get out of the way first!!

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Replies: 82
By:
punchestown
When: 21 Dec 14 22:28
Excellent write up,like Champagne Fever myself,hoping it's toughened up a bit in time.
By:
frank60
When: 21 Dec 14 22:38
As Callit says Dynaste came here as joint fav last year 8/1 E/WAY is a cracking bet[all bookies paying 1/4 odds a place] i belive we will see the best of him on the 26th, ..as ever a fine write up by Callit
By:
punchestown
When: 21 Dec 14 22:47
Think Dynaste is just a tad short of being top drawer,well beaten in this last year and well behind Silviniaco Conti (10 Lengths) at Haydock this November.
By:
punchestown
When: 21 Dec 14 22:49
P.S,you can get 4's here now on Champagne if you feel it's a good price.
By:
callitasucit
When: 21 Dec 14 22:54
Just seen that. I feel he could be bigger again on the day though. Few factors that may be overplayed by the market. WPM record outside the festival, CFs Xmas record, his unproven stamina etc. All of which don't trouble me, as there are reasons for them all, but I believe they will push his price out.
By:
pa lapsy
When: 21 Dec 14 23:10
Terrific write up Callit,think there isn,t much between the likes of Silviniaco Conti, Cue Card, Dynaste,Menorah, Al Ferof,they have all come across each other before and plenty of reverses and little distance between them,hard to say which will finish in front of another and no surprise what happens.  Champegne Fever? Champion hurdle winning form for him in the past with My Tent and Jezki. The issue part is the trouble alright,at Clonmelmade a mess of the 3rd(?),turned into the straight 1st time and the ears were like antennae,headed ears flat back,pity Realt Dubh made a mistake 2 out,but CF ear flicked just before the last,plenty left but some thinker. Flawed genious to feck up possibly,have to be worried with jumping and attitude but up against much of a muchness and has nearly done enough over hurdles to say he could be 170+,think either way you could kick yourself if you backed him or let him go but think i'll be hoping his a good boy on the day.
By:
callitasucit
When: 21 Dec 14 23:21
Yeah, even the day he beat Melodic Rendevouz in the Punchestown Champion Bumper, he looked for a second like he was going to pull himself up. Though I wouldn't have bothered leaving the bed, never mind the starting gate that day. Horrendous conditions.

Whoever wins, it promises to be treat.

Cracking racing all day on Fri. Vautour looks the best novice chaser since Sprinter Sacre(Un de Sceaux could be the 2nd best!), Kalkir impressed me more than any other 3yr old hurdler in a long time, and Faugheen is Frankel over 8 flights!! That treble pays 13-8 by the way.....yes pleaseGrin
By:
pa lapsy
When: 21 Dec 14 23:30
Very impressed with Un De Sceaux as well yesterday,he is fnding it hard to get a challenger in a race. Doesn't look a bad treble at all, before i know who he is up against R$ocky Blier impressed me on the flat last couple of runs,like to see him make a debut.
By:
callitasucit
When: 21 Dec 14 23:44
On a side note to the Christmas Hurdle at Kemp, Irving currently 5.4, SOV about 10. I would like to bet SOV in a match bet at them percentages.
By:
neill d
When: 22 Dec 14 03:58
Excellent stuff and a very cogent case.
By:
tyronesam
When: 22 Dec 14 10:31
Excellent write up, I'm a big silviniavo fan, feel the horse has got some unjustified bad press. Could be called the winner a LONG way out at haddock and think he will prove how good he is on Friday...great looking field, good luck all
By:
paulie wallnuts
When: 22 Dec 14 16:39
Pa..... Rocky Blier is owned by Connell and as a result is going to be no good.....a rubbish purchase as per usual.....the only reason Connell gets him is because nobody else wanted him of course.....150k for a horse worth about 10.....nothing new in that i suppose.....GH Bloodstck signing.....if he runs in Leopardstown it will not be found.....
By:
pa lapsy
When: 22 Dec 14 21:12
There's a want in someone to give you a load of stars for that reply Paulie,you might be right,he may not be anygood over flights but worth 10k after winning a premier handicap with plenty of 90 odds and a couple a 100+ behind is a bit out. He grabbed my imagination at the flat backend,mightn't be Stephens Day(not a fierce hot race to me with the entries) but think he might be a decent enough buy.
By:
CheltenhamRoar
When: 22 Dec 14 22:19
a load of stars LaughLaugh someone must rate his reply Shocked
By:
paulie wallnuts
When: 22 Dec 14 23:03
Pa....Rocky Blieier will be nowhere in that race of he turns up....connells colours are the colours of death pa.... he has the opposite to the Midas touch when it comes to horses.... If you drew a line through every horse that carry those colours then you wouldn't do any harm ....as everybody knows Connell will be aiming a lot of his horses at leopardstown ....how many winners will he have.... Not many possibly not any would be my guess....
By:
pa lapsy
When: 23 Dec 14 09:31
He has poor statistics alright Paulie ,more so given the cost of his horses.Hasn,t a lot really,The Tullow Tank could be gone,other than that not sure about Golantilla,Velvet Maker might be decent but a lot of handicappers as well.Agree with the lads here with Foxrock. Think it was good of him to give Alan Fleming a few youngsters after he came back from England,but can't dispute the point you are making that his decision making has generally been poor though i think done in the right spirit.
Anyway Paulie thats the opening maiden hurdle,back to the topic,what do do make of Champagne Fever?
By:
punchestown
When: 23 Dec 14 13:28
Think Golantilla is stuffed is stuffed pa,next time out for TTT will be telling.
By:
punchestown
When: 23 Dec 14 13:29
Sorry about the stutter Laugh
By:
Bigwillystyle
When: 23 Dec 14 13:49
Champagne Fever will win if he settles.  Brilliant jumper and thankfully its an easy three miles as stamina would be a doubt for me.  I know people go on about his pedigree but the horse has serious pace as he showed in Supreme and Arkle races! Dont mind what the ratings say if he is right he would pick this lot up and carry them!
By:
kavvie
When: 23 Dec 14 14:18
mullins  english record outside cheltenham is very poor.also horse seems better in march/april.also stamina doubts  hard back him  for me at 7/2.
By:
kingrat
When: 23 Dec 14 14:25
any sign of tony,lads?
By:
Bigwillystyle
When: 23 Dec 14 14:27
Backed him at 7's.  Wouldnt back him at 7/2 either.  He has been layed out for this.  Different things have gone wrong at Christmas over last few years, for which there are legitimate excuses which were not made public at the time!  I would be confident he will run his race.

As for Mullins English record i have said many times that he is sending these horses over as an after thought.  You saw the two last week in Ascot.  The bumper mare is Tiny and is a summer mare of limited ability, while the novice hurdler wouldnt be in the top 10-12 novices in the yard.  Ye boys should be laying these horses.

More than likely he will have a double on one of the biggest British cards of the year on the 26th.
By:
workrider
When: 23 Dec 14 17:13
Can't believe for a moment this , sends them over as an afterthought , what a load of tripe , what trainer no matter who , wants to be thought of as a fool sending horses over at huge expense to his owners never mind the amount of time spent on the exercise ..Pure rubbish imo...
By:
norn iron
When: 23 Dec 14 17:25
NEVER SEEN MORE OPEN RACE  ANYONE THINK IT WILL BE VERY HEAVY GROUND OR JUST SOFT ?
By:
frank60
When: 23 Dec 14 17:36
Workrider as a matter of interest how much would it cost for a irish trainer[owners] to send over a horse to the UK for  a race. I have no idea myself. ty
By:
The Gotchee
When: 23 Dec 14 17:38
Cue Card is the forgotten horse in this race and he represents a decent e/w bet at 8/1. The form of his Betfair Chase win last year is hard to overlook. Remember, he was favourite for this race last year and looked like winning easily going to the second last. He  has returned this year with two slightly below par efforts but having been injured I suspect he needed the runs. This is what his trainer had to say yesterday  "His run in the Betfair last time out was disappointing, but he blew for a long time afterwards which suggests we had left him short. He has really started to blossom over the last three weeks and I have him spot-on for the King George. He'll definitely run a massive race."
By:
p_r_e_m_i_e_r__f_a_n_t_a_s_y
When: 23 Dec 14 17:42
I wouldn't call his performances this year slightly below par, he ran bloody shocking in the Betfair and his jumping fell to pieces when Fehily put it up to him on Silviniaco Conti on the 2nd circuit
On last years form his price is huge but you have to forgive his runs this year
By:
frank60
When: 23 Dec 14 17:44
Gotchee if Cue card trainer is right then he could be a bet to nothing e/way 1/4odds,i must have a look at the markets on the 26th, Morning line might give a few pointers.
By:
workrider
When: 23 Dec 14 17:46
Never had a runner myself in UK Frank so not up to speed on that , what I do know is some UK courses pay part of your costs when its a big race , Off the top of my head I would estimate with travel costs , lads overtime etc , at least a couple of grand...
By:
frank60
When: 23 Dec 14 17:56
Thanks W/R, i sure someone on the forum has an idea, i guess i have a curious nature.Grin
By:
The Gotchee
When: 23 Dec 14 18:03
I wouldn't go as far as calling them shocking premier, I suspect he needed the runs and all known form it is between himself and Silviano. Champagne Fever is a dreadful price at 9/2, he should be at least double those odds.
By:
The Gotchee
When: 23 Dec 14 18:07
€1000 or thereabouts to travel to the UK with a single horse.
By:
p_r_e_m_i_e_r__f_a_n_t_a_s_y
When: 23 Dec 14 18:11
I agree re Champagne Fever's price, everybody keeps hammering on about Al Ferof being a shocking price but i would say he has achieved more than Champagne Fever over fences so far and the step up in trip would want to bring out vast improvement in Champagne Fever which it may well do.

As for Al Ferof i really wish Ruby was on board and i would back him, i really ain't a fan of STD (no pun intended). If what Pumpkinhead has said re the ulcers is true Al Ferof's performances last year where not all that bad and his 3rd on soft / heavy ground in this race last year on his first try over the trip starts to look a lot better, he looked very good last time at Ascot giving weight all around to decent rivals (all be it not top grade 1 horses) and if coming on for that i think he could run a massive race, problem is all the juice has been taken out of his price as well at 6s.
By:
dj876
When: 23 Dec 14 18:34
Colin Tizzard looked well annoyed with his run at Haydock and Daryl Jacob looked gutted.I think it's far more likely that he's not the same horse since the injury or the KG last year bottomed him. I have no problem forgiving the first run back over an inadequate distance but the Betfair must raise serious doubts about him. I think it's a very difficult race and will be very interesting without any financial involvement.
By:
workrider
When: 23 Dec 14 18:52
Conti was very impressive at Haydock , and with Nicholls happy with him I'd be inclined to have a few quid on  ...Looked like he was going to win the G/CUP at one stage till faltering for whatever reason , up the hill ..Maybe we are not giving him his dues...
By:
Bigwillystyle
When: 23 Dec 14 19:02
Wonks why does he leave the vast majority of his top horses at home and bring over the dross if it is not an after thought?
By:
workrider
When: 23 Dec 14 19:02
Just had a look at Nicholls tips , Says Conti would rather soft/heavy and its currently good I think ..He thinks all his have a good chance over the Christmas ...
By:
workrider
When: 23 Dec 14 19:13
Willy we've had this debate before ,just to reiterate ..No trainer wants to be looked upon as a fool ,who willy nilly sends his horses huge distances and incurs massive expence for no reward ...Simple ..
By:
neill d
When: 23 Dec 14 19:21
Workrider, I think he has to send them as his better horses are taking up the available races in Ireland. He's sent over a fair number of twighlight/Grade 3 novices because he needs the Irish races for his best horses, he has 7/10 favs for the Chelts novice races already and he has to run the other horses somewhere.

He is running against Britains best, but ask yourself how would Nicholls/Henderson do sending their second tier horses over to take on Ireland's best. The anwser of course is 'not too well' and I don't think we can read anything into the defeats Mullins has incurred cross channel due to the above.
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