2.10 Lingfield, Tuesday, December 12

The Betway Dash Handicap (2.10) at Lingfield on Tuesday is worth £20,000 in guaranteed prize money and it’s a little surprising that it’s not better subscribed. Still, that won’t bother the connections of those horses that have turned up and may present dual course and distance winner Gracious John with an opportunity to return to the winners’ enclosure.


David Evans’ 4-year-old wasn’t seen to best effect on soft going at Nottingham in November, but won in this grade at Leicester in October and remains 6lb lower in the weights than when winning over course and distance at around this time last year. The Baltic King gelding is hard to ignore from a handicapping perspective and appears to have every chance of making a winning return to Polytrack under Fran Berry, who has a decent strike rate for the yard at Lingfield.

Selection: Lingfield 2.10 Gracious John to win

Will Singlefarmpayment Deliver Success at Ascot?

Source: BHAPressOffice via Twitter


Singlefarmpayment will be aiming to overcome his recent disappointment at the Ladbrokes Trophy Chase when he competes at the Lavazza Silver Cup Handicap Chase. The bay gelding has been a solid operator over the past two National Hunt seasons, although a major victory has eluded him.


Tom George’s charge has notched just three wins over the course of his career and will have to put forward an outstanding performance to triumph at Ascot. The seven-year-old is considered the favourite for the meet, despite suffering a fall in his last outing. Therefore, it will be worth monitoring Singlefarmpayment’s odds at Timeform along with the rest of the field before punting on the event.


The bay gelding had made his debut in the National Hunt in the 2014-15 campaign, but struggled in the early stages of his career. He placed sixth in his debut at Stratford before suffering a fall in his next outing at Exeter. Singlefarmpayment finally into gear with a strong performance at the Novices’ Hurdle at Southwell Racecourse, finishing second behind Irish horse Monbeg Theatre. The horse came within inches of his first victory at Chepstow in the National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle, but just lacked the closing speed down the stretch to beat out Sidbury Hill.


Singlefarmpayment failed to compete in his next two outings, but again came close to a breakthrough in the final meet of the campaign. The bay gelding challenged Fleet Dawn down the stretch at the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber Of Commerce Handicap Hurdle, only to be beaten out by a length. His frustration continued at the start of the new term when he finished second in his debut at Ascot, on this occasion losing out to Masterplan, who upped the ante in the closing stages of the contest.


However, he finally notched his first win with jockey Richard Johnson in the saddle easing to a comfortable victory by seven lengths at the Novices’ Hurdle at Southwell Racecourse. Much like buses, his second triumph followed in the bay gelding’s next outing. Singlefarmpayment was considered the favourite for the Handicap Hurdle on his Cheltenham debut and did not disappoint by coming through the field at the precise moment to clinch the victory by three-and-half lengths.



Source: CheltCountdown via Twitter


The bay gelding took a step back by pulling up at Huntingdon to end his campaign, which would be the last with Tom Lacey as his trainer. He returned to action for the start of the 2016-17 season with George in place for his outing Richard Davis Memorial Chase, but struggled for pace down the stretch and could only finish in third. At Ascot, George’s charge came across Beware the Bear, and was made to rue a slow start as he made his surge too late to close the gap on the Irish horse.


Singlefarmpayment returned to Cheltenham at the beginning December and did not disappoint with a fine run to triumph in the Jockey Club Ownership Syndicate Novices’ Chase. Jockey Adrian Heskin timed the move to perfection to come through the pack and the bay gelding was able to close out the victory two-and-a-half lengths. George’s charge was considered the joint-favourite for the Novices’ Handicap Chase at Cheltenham at the end of January, only to be brought down at the 12th fence by More Buck’s.


As a result, the seven-year-old did not have the greatest preparation for Cheltenham Festival. However, he put forward a fine performance in the Handicap Chase, and he battled Un Temps Pour Tout all the way down the stretch to claim the win, but was just beaten out by a short head by the Irish horse. Singlefarmpayment made his fourth appearance on the bounce at Cheltenham to kick off the new term, but began the season slightly off the boil, finishing four lengths behind Cogry in the Handicap Chase.


George’s charge was making good headway in his last outing at Ladbrokes Trophy Chase, only to suffer the first fall of his career three fences from the end of the race. Momentum is not on his side heading into the Lavazza Silver Cup Handicap Chase, but has proven at the least that he can be competitive right until the end of the race. It’s an important meet for George and his charge and he may finally get over the line to secure his first major triumph at Ascot.


Who Will Win the Welsh Grand National?

Beware The Bear put down a marker for the Welsh Grand National with a fine win to start his 2017-18 National Hunt season. The Irish horse had not competed in the early stages of the campaign, but returned to action after an eight-month absence to notch the fifth victory of his career. The result will make his rivals aware of his speed for the meet at Chepstow, with the bay gelding and his team eyeing the first major triumph of his career at the end of December.


There are quality competitors that will challenge Beware The Bear at the event. None more so than Rock The Kasbah, who has enjoyed a strong run of form at the racecourse. Therefore it will be worth monitoring the odds for the Welsh Grand National and earlier races when online at sportsbet.io as the meet will be extremely competitive due to the quality of the field. We’ll now break down the horses that will be vying for the crown and their form throughout their respective careers.


Beware The Bear

beware the bear

Source: Steve_Grocutt via Twitter


Nicky Henderson’s charge began his career in Uttoxeter and notched a second-place finish on his debut, although he was comfortably beaten down the stretch by four lengths by race favourite Onefitzall. The bay gelding’s second race did not go to plan with Freddie Mitchell in the saddle. Although he kept pace with the leaders in the early stages of the race, the Irish horse was unable to make a meaningful impact, finishing fourth, well behind the eventual winner, Born Survivor. Beware The Bear’s winless run continued in his next outing at Haydock Park in the Novices’ Handicap Hurdle. A mistake towards the end of the race was to cost the bay gelding, leaving him off the pace down the stretch as Sharpasaknife claimed the victory.


Beware The Bear broke his duck in the Maiden Hurdle at Bangor-on-Dee with a change of jockey in the form of Jeremiah McGrath. He was considered the favourite of the event, but had a slow start to the meet. However, the Irish horse was able to pull away from the rest of the field to claim a dominant win by 29 lengths. Henderson’s charge ended his first season in the sport on a high note with a fine run at Southwell, delivering a strong performance to secure the triumph by eight lengths.


The Irish horse made his debut at Ascot at the start of the 2016-17 National Hunt campaign in the UK Chase. Although he was named the joint-favourite for the event, Beware The Bear defeated Singlefarmpayment by a comfortable margin down the stretch, beating out his rival by two-and-three-quarter lengths. With McGrath in the saddle, the bay gelding made it four wins on the bounce with a triumph at Newbury in the CSP Chase. Despite his form, Henderson’s charge was unable to rise to the occasion in his first appearance at Cheltenham Festival. He was a strong contender for the National Hunt Challenge Cup Amateur Riders’ Novices’ Chase title, but placed well off the pace in seventh with the worst performance of his career. He ended the season on a low note with another below-par outing at Ayr Racecourse, placing in fourth well off the pace even though he was the favourite for the contest.


Beware The Bear began the new campaign on a high note, suggesting that he was back to his best form with a fine performance at Newcastle. The bay gelding won the even by two-and-three-quarter lengths, which will send the Irish horse into the Welsh Grand National with momentum. At his best, he can certainly win the event, although he cannot afford to lose his composure on the big stage.


Rock The Kasbah

Source: mjyharris via Twitter


The Irish horse began his career at the site of the Grand National at Chepstow. In his first outing, he was considered the leading contender for the win, but finished second on his debut. However, Philip Hobbs’ charge delivered his first victory in his second race at the Maiden Open NH Flat Race, dominating the rest of the field. With James Best in the saddle, he continued his momentum with victory at the Novices’ Hurdle at Fontwell Park.


The chestnut gelding’s fine run of form came to an end at Taunton with an underwhelming performance at the National Hunt Novices’ Hurdle, while he was also beaten at The Racehorse Sanctuary Novices’ Hurdle. Rock The Kasbah found his form with a strong win at the Racing Novices’ Hurdle, edging out compatriot Inner Drive by a nose. Hobbs’ charge suffered the first failure of his career, ending his debut campaign on a low by pulling up at Ayr Racecourse.


To start the new campaign Hobbs put his charge forward for the Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle at Chepstow. However, he suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of outsider Court Minstrel, although he did manage to get back to winning ways, stringing two victories together at Haydock Park and in his first appearance at Ascot in Holloway’s Handicap Hurdle. The narrow win by half-a-length at Ascot over Baron Alco sent him into Cheltenham Festival with a good performance under his belt. The chestnut gelding produced the worst display of his career at the Coral Cup, failing to find a rhythm during the meet, placing all the way down in 22nd out of 26 competitors. Rock The Kasbah ended his season with another poor outing in his debut at Aintree.


At the start of the new campaign, he was able to find form at Chepstow with a solid performance in the Novices’ Chase. The seven-year-old was unable to sustain his rhythm on the track, finishing off the pace in his next three outings at Cheltenham, Ascot and Sandown Park. Chepstow was his saving grace to get back to winning ways with a fine performance in another Novices’ Chase outing, narrowly overcoming Swincombe Scorchio, displaying his stamina to fend off the outsider. Rock The Kasbah ended the last campaign with a meek performance at the Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Sandown Park, lacking the pace at the crucial moment of the race to close on the leaders.


For all of his issues elsewhere, Hobbs’ charge made it three wins on the bounce at Chepstow with victory in the Handicap Chase at the beginning of October. The chestnut gelding’s form at the venue certainly make him a formidable opponent for any horse in the field.


Chase The Spud


Source: UttoxeterRaces via Twitter


The horse had a slow start to his career, but could pose a challenge due to his strong run of results in 2017. Fergal O’Brien’s charge was off the pace in the opening three races of his career, but with Timmy Murphy in the saddle, he made his breakthrough at the Michael Quinlan Memorial Novices’ Hurdle at Huntington Racecourse to win by 17 lengths. The bay gelding lost momentum towards the end of the campaign and did not register another victory until the start of the 2014-15 National season. At Exeter in the Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase, he delivered a fine performance to secure a dominant victory over the rest of the field, beating his nearest rival by six lengths. The rest of the campaign was lost as Chase The Spud pulled up in his next two outings before O’Brien called time on the term in January.


His form returned at the start of the new season and at Lingfield Park in the Intermediate Handicap Chase, the horse almost notched the third win of his career. He took the lead in the closing stages of the meet, but was not able to fend off the challenge of Wilton Milan losing out by a neck. The bay gelding’s first experience of the Welsh Grand National did not go to plan as he pulled up at the 12th fence, although he was not in contention anyway. The nine-year-old was able to bounce back with a victory at Exeter in the Bridgwater Graduation Chase with another comfortable finish. He returned to Chepstow at the end of the season, and although he didn’t claim a victory, Chase The Spud was able to complete the race in third place.


The new campaign was to be a struggle for O’Brien’s charge. He placed in the top three in only one of his four races to begin the term in the Handicap Chase at Haydock Park, struggling immensely in his other three meets. However, his fortune was to change at Uttoxeter in the Midlands Grand National. With Paddy Brennan in the saddle, the bay gelding was able to overcome two mistakes at the start of the race to come through the field. He surged down the final stretch of the course and was able to beat out Mysteree with a strong finish, clinching his place in the winners’ circle.


He secured back-to-back victories for the first time in his career by beginning the 2017-18 season with a win at Haydock Park in the Handicap Chase. Chase The Spud secured a comfortable victory by six lengths, dominating the rest of the field. O’Brien’s charge has the ability to win the Welsh Grand National as he has proved when he’s at his best it’s hard to surpass him on the track.


2.10 Hereford, Wednesday, November 29

herefordPlantagenet failed in his bid for a five-timer when switched to fences at Plumpton earlier this month, but nevertheless made a highly promising debut over the larger obstacles and can open his account in that sphere in the Level Peakes Associates Handicap Chase (2.10) at Hereford on Wednesday. The Plumpton form has already been franked by the winner, Cucklington, who followed up in convincing style, off a 5lb higher mark, at Wincanton last Thursday, so Plantaganet must have every chance of regaining the winning thread off an identical handicap mark. Seamus Mullins’ 5-year-old has done all his winning on good, or faster, ground, so should be in his element and is far from fully exposed after just five starts for his current connections.


Selection: Hereford 2.10 Plantaganet to win   13/8


3.40 Newcastle, Wednesday, November 15

In the Betway Casino Handicap (3.40) at Newcastle on Wednesday, Tonto’s Spirit seems sure to be popular after winning his last two starts by an aggregate of 20 lengths. However, Kenneth Slack’s 5-year-old has yet to race on a synthetic surface of any kind and that lack of experience, coupled with an 8lb rise in the weights in a better race, is good reason to oppose the Authorized gelding on his Tapeta debut.


By contrast, Waiting For Richie won over course and distance on his penultimate start and was only beaten three-quarters of a length, off a 1lb lower mark, in a 0-90 contest at Newmarket 12 days ago. The form of his course and distance win has been franked by the third, Dominating, and Tom Tate’s 4-year-old remains unexposed at, or beyond, 2 miles, having only had three starts at that sort of distance. The son of European Champion 3-year-old Rail Link is clearly blessed with an abundance of stamina and represents a yard with a 7-15 (47%) strike on the Tapeta at Newcastle this season.


Selection: Newcastle 3.40 Waiting For Richie to win


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