De Kock's stylish Shea Shea can claim maiden British success
I won't pretend that I know a whole lot about South African racing but I always take note when the country's best known trainer, Mike de Kock, sends a runner over to Britain.
Admittedly, 11 winners from 77 British runners since 2003 is not exactly earth-shattering stuff, but the fact that you would have broken even to SP and made a reasonable profit at exchange prices blindly backing his horses suggests they are often overpriced.
While the sample is small, he has proved profitable to follow in five and six-furlong sprints, but it's my guess that punters are sometimes put off backing horses from outside Britain and Ireland, as their form is harder to assess.
There are, however, one or two De Kock horses which punters here may be familiar with and it's not long since Shea Shea almost became the first South African winner at Royal Ascot (he traded at 1/5 in-running in the King's Stand Stakes).
The six-year-old gelding is back today for the Darley July Cup at Newmarket (3.50) and once again takes on the horse that beat him at Ascot, Sole Power.
My big concern about Sole Power is the fact that he has never raced beyond five furlongs and it is anyone's guess as to whether he'll get the extra furlong today.
Shea Shea has proven himself over a number of distances and has won a race over seven furlongs, although he's a sprinter at heart and is seen to best effect in five and six-furlong contests.
While he hasn't yet been successful in Britain, don't forget that he was very stylish when winning the Group One Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan back in March and if he runs anywhere near his best today, he'll be very hard to beat at odds of 7/2 or thereabouts.
At Chester, we have a couple of six and seven furlong handicaps on the card, and regular readers may remember the Chester strategy I mentioned last month whereby you back horses drawn in stalls one and two in five and six-furlong handicaps provided they are in the top three in the weights.
Since then, that system has produced two winners from three bets for a profit of €95 to a €10 stake (results exclude yesterday evening's racing).
With those figures in mind, it should be worth siding with Red Explorer at 9/4 and El Viento each-way at 8/1 in the 2.50 and 4.0 races respectively. With Chester being the tightest track in Britain, horses drawn low on the inside rail have a big advantage as they have to cover less ground.
WHILE Stencive would appear to be the most likely winner of the 54th John Smith's Cup at York (2.55), odds of 5/1 make little appeal in a 20-runner handicap which looks quite open.
Instead, I'm going to keep Clon Brulee on my side each-way at 8/1. A bookmaking pal across the water who works for one of the big firms told me he has noticed significant interest in this horse since the declarations came out and any market support today should be taken as a positive sign.
The lightly raced gelding is progressing nicely and I reckon he's a few pounds better off than his rating of 93 suggests.
2.30 Ascot: Aljamaaheer
2.40 Newmarket: Good Old Boy Lukey
2.50 Chester: Red Explorer
2.55 York: Clon Brulee (e/w)
3.50 Newmarket: Shea Shea
4.0 Chester: El Viento (e/w)