Sport Horse Racing

Monday 19 March 2018

'Definitly' worth looking at youths to storm the Hall

The Breeders’ Cup has become a night to enjoy as a spectacle with a few drinks and some popcorn. (Stock photo)
The Breeders’ Cup has become a night to enjoy as a spectacle with a few drinks and some popcorn. (Stock photo)

Wayne Bailey

Bond had always been a gambler…. above all, he liked it that everything was one's own fault. There was only oneself to praise or blame.... for, at gambling, the deadly sin is to mistake bad play for bad luck." - Ian Fleming, Casino Royale.

I was going to start off today by saying I've never had much luck betting in the Breeders' Cup, which comes to a climax tonight at Del Mar in California.

But I don't want to go down the road described by Ian Fleming and blame bad play for bad luck.

If the truth be told, I don't know enough about US racing to be betting on it.

According to my teenage daughter, 'FOMO' is the fear of missing out and, far too often, I've wasted money on the Breeders' Cup backing my favourite European horses for the fear of missing a big win.

It's hard not to be drawn to the familiar names from this side of the pond and, while I can speak only for myself, the US form can be hard to get a handle on.


For a start, the courses are vastly different to what our horses are used to running on.

Del Mar, for example, is close to the sea and, depending on the tide and a few other weather factors, the surface can change considerably in a short space of time.

For me, the Breeders' Cup has become a night to enjoy as a spectacle with a few drinks and some popcorn; I'll leave the betting to better punting brains than mine.

Like a lot of people, I'm very much looking forward to Aidan O'Brien's Highland Reel taking on Michael Stoute's Ulysses in the Breeders' Cup Turf.

The ground will play a big part in the outcome of this but at the time of writing, it's well odds-on that either one of them will win.

Best of luck to all the British and Irish trainers and jockeys, but I'll be enjoying the action stress-free with my wallet firmly tucked away.

'FOMO' also rears its head each year when the national hunt season comes back and, although one of the reasons people love the jumps code over the flat is that they get to see our favourite horses return each year, this also presents a trap at times and I've often found myself backing them out of blind loyalty more than anything else.

That's what's bugging me about the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby (3.15).

My heart is saying back Cue Card, which is still officially the best horse in the race.

But my head is saying it's not sensible to back an eleven-year-old in a contest which has tended to go to up-and-coming chasers lately.

His followers must also consider he was beaten in this on his seasonal debut last year at a price of 8/11.

I'll kick myself if he wins but I'm going with the head today and the verdict is to avoid.

Ten-year-old Coneygree is obviously next on the shortlist but he's been plagued by injuries since winning the Gold Cup in 2015.

As a result, there's quite a bit of guesswork involved, the weather having scuppered his planned re-appearance at Listowel in September.

Perhaps it's time to take a chance on something younger, and Definitly Red is worth a small punt today around 8/1.

Brian Ellison's eight-year-old was pulled up in the Grand National at Aintree when well fancied, but that can be overlooked because Danny Cook lost his irons very early on in the race, causing his saddle to slip.

Previously, he won a valuable handicap at Doncaster, and he also has course form here, having landed the Grade Three Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase.

It all means that there's plenty to like about his profile coming into this.


The Richard Rowe-trained Dark Flame still looks unexposed with a rating of 133 for the Grade Three Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase (3.35), and yesterday evening's odds of 8/1 make him a perfect each-way bet.

Second in a novice chase here last time, he placed in a quality handicap off a higher rating last year.

Today's selections

2.20 Newmarket: Awesometank

2.30 Down Royal: Our Duke

2.40 Wetherby: Lil Rockerfeller

3.15 Wetherby: Definitly Red

3.30 Newmarket: Lord Glitters

3.35 Ascot: Dark Flame

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