Monday 22 January 2018

Desert party to lead rivals a merry dance

Flat turf action combines with the all-weather code and jumps racing to offer something for everyone this afternoon, but the best bet of the day is at Meydan racecourse, where a host of international runners congregate in Dubai for World Cup night. The beast in question is Desert Party, which runs in the Godolphin Mile (1.55 Irish time).

Those who like name-related bets will want to be on board. Desert Party is trained by the outfit after which this race is named, and the mother of all desert parties will erupt when Elton John plays in the Meydan infield after racing.

Desert Party appeals even more to the discerning. His progressive form in Dubai last year warranted a tilt at the Kentucky Derby, in which he was injured, and his comeback run over the course four weeks ago was straight from the top drawer. Thought to be in need of the outing, he still blitzed a decent field of sprinters over six furlongs.

Desert Party moves up to his optimum trip of eight furlongs here. Some feel his wide berth in stall 11 is a negative but Desert Party has more than sufficient early pace to secure a prominent position. He represents outstanding value at the generally available 5/2, which should be taken first thing this morning.

Only fools rush in to punt at doncaster

April's Fool has arrived five days early. That's the only conclusion to draw from betting on the William Hill Lincoln Handicap at Doncaster, for which Penitent trades as 5/2 favourite. And this from English layers which have just trousered €65m from punters over Cheltenham.

Perhaps I'm missing something. Perhaps Penitent is the biggest certainty since Pegasus took flight. Perhaps Penitent, which was raised 5lbs when beaten in a Southwell handicap on his last start five months ago, is an unknown clone of Sea The Stars. Then again, perhaps not.

Despite Penitent's seductive profile, we can only assess what we know of him. We know that Pentient is by Kyllachy, whose progeny have an average winning distance of six and a half furlongs. We know that Penitent has two half-siblings, neither of which won beyond seven furlongs.

And we know that the rain-soaked ground at Doncaster today will make the straight mile an arduous assignment for any horse, never mind one bred like Penitent.

Yes, the four-year-old has already won over a mile, but that came in a small field on Kempton's all-weather surface. He will find this a completely different test. The rest of the Doncaster card on the opening day of the English turf Flat season resembles a punters' minefield. Give it the swerve it deserves.

calusa crystal can sparkle at newbury

It's ladies' day over the jumps at Newbury, where the £40,000 feature races are confined to mares. In both events the focal point is Nicky Henderson, who habitually lays out horses for these attractive prizes.

Carole's Legacy is Henderson's representative in the EBF Novices' Chase Final (1.45), a race in which many of the runners have previously clashed. And the six-year-old has earned her big weight, a detail reinforced when she beat all bar Quevega at the recent Cheltenham festival.

Against that, Carole's Legacy had a hard race just 11 days ago and will do well to rebound from it. She is also closely matched with Over Sixty, which may fare better today.

One fancied to beat them both is Calusa Crystal, which sauntered to an easy victory from the reopposing Daraz Rose last time. Daraz Rose has little prospects of reversing that form at the revised weights, yet she was upsides Over Sixty at Bangor when she fell at the final fence last month. Calusa Crystal's chance is clear on that line of form.

Henderson saddles three in the EBF Novices' Hurdle Final (2.15) and each of them will have their supporters. Ryde Back, for instance, is weighted to match Queen Poline on their recent Huntingdon encounter; the latter would have been the selection had the Lucy Wadham stable been in better form.

However, of the Henderson trio, Barry Geraghty plumps for Kerada, unbeaten in three runs over hurdles this term and fairly handicapped into the bargain after two narrow verdicts most recently. But Kerada is one of several which like to run aggressively in a race that will take no prisoners. In the circumstances the best option is Sure Josie Sure. David Pipe's mare has been prepared specifically for this race, and with just two wins from as many completed starts over hurdles (she was brought down in between), the five-year-old might have slipped under the handicapper's radar.

Irish Independent

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