CHELTENHAM is over for another year and hopefully you might have made a few quid following us last week. Regular readers of this column should have been on RSA Chase winner Weapon’s Amnesty ante-post at 16/1 and Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander without the ‘Big Two’ at 7/2. Somersby (20/1) and Forpadydeplasterer (10/1) both finished second, while highlights last week included Copper Bleu (16/1) and Peddlers Cross (7/1). I cannot wait for next year… 51 weeks and counting!
The Flat season officially gets underway at Doncaster tomorrow with the highlight being the 22-runner William Hill Lincoln at 3.10pm. The relatively unexposed Penitent currently heads the betting at around 4/1 and is bound to be well supported on the day. The four-year-old, who will be ridden by Johnny Murtagh, will be bidding to land his shrewd trainer William Haggas a third Lincoln and has a similar profile to recent winners Expresso Star and Stream Of Gold. He warrants plenty of respect, but is just a bit too short for me and has to improve dramatically on what he has shown so far.
The two biggest issues for punters at this early stage are the ground and the effect that any further rainfall might have on the draw. The ground was relatively quick last year and the first three home all had single figure berths. In fact, only one winner in the last decade has been drawn higher than 16 and that was Babodana back in 2004.
Yet, I’m convinced that all the pace in the race seems to have been drawn high, so will be backing one horse from each side of the draw. Starting with those drawn low, I found it very hard to split Richard Fahey’s pair Extraterrestrial and PRIME EXHIBIT. If the rain does arrive it will be very difficult not to back the former who loves it bottomless and comes here in great heart. Lee Topliss also takes a crucial 7lbs off, so he is arguably running off a mark below his last winning rating.
However, I marginally favour Prime Exhibit as he definitely still looks on the upgrade and is well treated. He was sold out of Roger Charlton’s yard last October for 28,000gns having disappointed on a number of occasions. However, he showed enough over an inadequate trip at Wolverhampton last time to suggest he still retains plenty of ability. He’ll get the fast pace he appears to be crying out for tomorrow and looks decent each-way value at around 14/1 with Paddy Power.
Looking at those drawn high and I cannot get away from the Barry Hills trained HUZZAH who finished 5th on the ‘wrong side’ last year racing from a higher mark. His stable is in good form and he has enough pace around him to suggest he is another serious contender and overpriced at 16/1 with Bluesq.com.
Elsewhere on Doncaster’s card and I’ve always been convinced that REDFORD has been crying out for a fast run 6 furlongs on soft ground. Well, he should get his ideal conditions tomorrow and ran well for his new connections on the all-weather a fortnight ago.
The weather will be a lot better over in Dubai for tomorrow’s multi-million pound World Cup meeting and the racing looks as competitive as you might expect with the money on offer. I cannot believe that Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner
CALIFORNIA FLAG can be backed at 5/1 to land the opening Al Quoz Sprint at 1.20pm. He has so much speed that we should be able to lock in a profit by laying him back in-running on Betdaq as he opens up at the furlong pole.
I’ll also be backing GAYEGO to make amends for an unlucky defeat last time at 11/4 in the Golden Shaheen at 3.15pm. Frankie Dettori takes the mount and you can be assured that this has been the target since he was beaten in last season’s Breeders’ Cup.
Finally, in the Dubai World Cup itself, I cannot resist siding with American raider GIO PONTI at a generous looking 7/1. He found only wonder filly Zenyatta too good in last season’s Breeders’ Cup Classic and surely won’t be far away if putting his best foot forward
CALIFORNIA FLAG 1.20pm Meydan (tomorrow)
REDFORD 2.35pm Doncaster (tomorrow)
PRIME EXHIBIT e/w 14/1 3.10pm Doncaster (tomorrow)
HUZZAH e/w 16/1 3.10pm Doncaster (tomorrow)
GAYEGO 3.15pm Meydan (tomorrow)
GIO PONTI 5.45pm Meydan (tomorrow)