Champion forecast looks bright at wet Ffos Las
A forensic focus is needed across Britain and Ireland this weekend as the frenetic pace towards the Festival is maintained. The weather continually causes havoc with the amount of rainfall to come as the imponderable. Sandown on some forecasts is due up to 10mm through the day, while Ffos Las is meant to have its share of up to 15mm through Friday night and into Saturday morning.
Only the brave need declare and once again there is a couple doubly so, in Foxcub and Bitofapuzzle. Their first preferences are 2.05 Ffos Las and 2.45 Wetherby respectively, but it doesn’t help the calculations of the four races involved. At least they are out of the Rule 4 thresholds.
Deputy Dan’s exploits have been so much better over the smaller obstacles and much can be taken from his last two outings where he came off second best to Thistlecrack. There won’t be many horses to get closer to Colin Tizzard’s star than Deputy Dan did on his penultimate run. He can handle heavy and has a touch of class.
Sirop De Menthe carries a much lesser burden in just 10st 1lb after Lucy Gardner’s claim. Either first or second on his last five starts, including runner-up to Rayvin Black at Sandown latest, he is worthy of mixing up in forecasts.
As for the other races across the country I was tempted to pick Run Ructions Run at Wetherby in the Towton, and Arthurs Oak at Sandown, while Leopardstown boasts the Irish Gold Cup. It's intriguing that Barry Geraghty has gone for Gilgamboa there, rather than Carlingford Lough. It’s a weekend to go steady.
The EXCEL in London was Wednesday’s destination as my eyes were opened and ears bombarded. I attended the middle of three days of the ICE Totally Gaming Exhibition and the enormity of this industry was immediately apparent. Whether it be casino offerings, computerised slots, 3D games, this show had it covered. Oh and feminists need not apply or attend. There was a token gesture seminar for women in the industry, yet this was a location packed full of testosterone and plenty of models trying to market the hundreds of differing companies.
The future is gaming, with racing needing to play catch-up if it is to compete for a small slice of this industry. It was easy to establish the concept of why Paddy Power and Betfair merged, the global competition is huge and now they can at least battle on a level playing field.
Those few hours at the exhibition brought home just how insular racing is, yet it has so much potential. Those behind all the companies within the halls were not afraid to be brazen, come up with an idea and go with it. Flamboyancy, assertiveness, ambition and no fear of failure, plus it lent itself to being an education in marketing.
Plenty of familiar faces from the hierarchy of racing were in attendance and 'networking.' Let’s hope they took away some valuable insight on the new waves of technology created for racing.
Normally I am overly enthused by the Superbowl, yet Sunday’s has the hallmarks of a rout. Cam Newton’s Carolina Panthers could run all over the Denver Broncos despite them being led by wily veteran Peyton Manning. Cam Newton for MVP is rightly around 4-6F, while it might be worth a little interest at 8-1 for him to be first touchdown scorer.
Tanya Stevenson’s Saturday Tip:
2.05 Ffos Las - Dribuild Welsh Champion Hurdle
Deputy Dan/Sirop De Menthe (forecast)
Tanya Stevenson’s Saturday Pointers:
1.15 Sandown - Contenders Hurdle
Willie Mullins has had four winners from his last nine Sandown runners
Five of the last seven favourites have won
Nicky Henderson (Peace And Co) has trained three of the last five winners
1.50 Sandown - Betfred “Treble Odds on Lucky 15’s” H’cap Chase
Last six winners came from the first three in the betting
After a seven year drought for favourites Grey Gold in 2014 and Brick Red last year have bucked the trend
Chris Pea Green and Joshua Moore have teamed up 15 times for five wins, two seconds and two thirds
2.05 Ffos Las - Dribuild Ltd Welsh Champion Hurdle
Paul Nicholls has won the last two runnings with Saphir Du Rheu and Silsol
Paul Nicholls has had five winners from his last 11 hurdle runners at the course
Killian Moore has ridden Solstice Star to victory for his last four outings he also has a 40% strike rate on hurdlers at the course and a 36% strike rate on Martin Keighley hurdlers
Lucy Gardner has only ever finished out of the first two on Sirop De Menthe once in nine rides
2.25 Sandown - Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase
Seven of the last 10 favourites have won while all 10 winners have come from the first three in the betting
Over the last 10 years, eight winners have gone on to the Cheltenham Festival none have won
All of the last 10 winners completed on their most recent run
Paul Nicholls has won the Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase four times and had two seconds from 11 runners in the last 10 years
Since 1983 the two horses older than seven to win were Tarxien aged 9 in 2003 and Oscar Whisky in 2014
Nine of the last 10 winners came from the first two in the betting
Eight of the last 10 winners ran at either Cheltenham or Warwick last time out
Six of the last eight winners won on their most recent start
Six of the last 10 winners went on to run at the Cheltenham Festival Royal Emperor in 2004 finished closed when runner-up in the RSA Chase
The last 10 Towton winners have gone on to claim three Charlie Hall Chases, a Welsh Grand National, Midlands National plus a Scottish Grand National
3.00 Sandown – Betfred Mobile Heroes Handicap Hurdle
The last seven winners carried 10-12 or less to victory
The last seven winners were no older than nine
From his last six runners in the race Paul Nicholls has won it three times
Four of the last seven winners had run at Cheltenham on their most recent run
3.15 Ffos Las – Dribuild Construction West Wales National
Bob Ford has won four of his six races at the course including this race last year
Rebecca Curtis has had eight winners from her last 11 chase runners at the course
3.30 Sandown – Betfred Masters Handicap
Le Reve’s seven races at Sandown have resulted in two wins, a second and two thirds
Five of the last nine winners came from the first four in the betting
Willie Mullins has won the race on 9 occasions
Five of the last 10 favourites have won
Imperial Call in 1996 is the last horse to win the Irish Gold Cup and the Cheltenham Gold Cup
Carlingford Lough is trying to emulate Beef Or Salmon the last back to back winner