Tuesday 20 March 2018

Fry's Batsman all set to score at Kempton

Harry Fry: Batsman trainer. Photo: Harry Trump/Getty Images
Harry Fry: Batsman trainer. Photo: Harry Trump/Getty Images

Wayne Bailey

Horse racing is often accused of being corrupt but it was a lot worse a couple of hundred years ago, hence the phrase 'turn-up for the books'.

Back then, as now, when bookmakers recorded their bets from punters it was called 'making a book' although unlike today, without technology it literally involved writing bets down in a book.

When a bookmaker had a lot of liabilities on a favourite, it wasn't unheard of for him to pay off the trainer of a very talented animal and have that horse show up, pretending it was one of the outside no-hopers.

Of course, the talented horse would win under the no-hoper disguise, the favourite would be beaten, and the bookmaker would keep the money.

All involved would get a nice slice of the cake, except of course the unwitting punter, who would be left conned and out of pocket.

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Such surprise winning horses only turned up to the meeting to help the book win - so after some time, an unusual event became known as a 'turn-up for the books'.

Old enemy

While it would be an exaggeration to call a win for Opening Batsman today at Kempton a turn-up for the books, at 14/1 he does seem a little over-priced, and I reckon I can hit the old enemy where it hurts in the BetBright Handicap Chase this afternoon (3.35).

A winner of this race in 2013 off a mark of 140 and runner-up last year off 141, the Harry Fry-trained gelding has dropped a few pounds in the ratings since, and comes here today on 133 for a racing weight of 11st 10lbs which does not appear too cumbersome.

Now aged 11, he is starting to get on a bit - but he knows his way around Kempton and has won or placed three times in five races over this course and distance.

It's reasonable to say his fifth place in a handicap chase here last time was disappointing considering he travelled well through most of the race, although the handicapper has cut him a further 3lb since that run, which seems reasonably fair.

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When you consider the fact that jockey Michael Legg is claiming 5lb, Opening's Batsman's each-way appeal is quite strong indeed.

At the time of writing, Double Shuffle heads the betting around 5/1.

Tom George's charge produced a career best to win that handicap chase here in which the selection came fifth, and he looks the one to beat - but he's got an extra 6lb to contend with here and that may do its job of holding him back. At the prices, I'm happy to avoid.

Paul Nicholls' Irish Saint is also worth a mention. A Grade Two winner in 2015, he was out for quite some time with injury and while he has shaped well since his return back in November, the three-mile trip seemed to stretch him too far last time at Sandown.

On the all-weather at Lingfield, Mutakayyef is tipped to land the Group Three Betway Winter Derby for William Haggas, priced around 5/4.

A winner of the Summer Mile last year, he was third in both the Juddmonte International and the Woodbine Mile in Canada so he has the form in the book to win at this level.

While he does have to concede 5lb to the field, at 120 he's rated 9lb superior to nearest rival Convey.

It's interesting to note that a planned trip to Dubai has been delayed so he can take part in this race and the son of Sea The Stars should take all the beating today.

My one concern is that he has never raced on the all-weather before but he seems to be a versatile sort and I don't think it will be much of a problem.

Last year's winner Grendisar is back, and a price of 9/2 or thereabouts is a fair reflection of his chances. He won the Easter Classic here back in March 2016 but he hasn't really been in the same form since, and could only manage fourth in the Listed trial race for this earlier on this month.

Getting back to Kempton, Paul Nicholls' Capitaine catches the eye in the Grade Two Sky Bet Dovecote Novices' Hurdle (3.0) under Sam Twiston-Davies. He made a blunder at the second last to finish second to Finian's Oscar in the Grade One Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown last time.

But it was a still a good run and both horses had pulled clear of the field. Previously, he won a Grade Two at Ascot and the five-year-old has gone into my notebook as one to keep onside for now, priced around 5/2.


A good case could be made for six of the nine runners in the Sun Bets On The App Store Handicap at Lingfield (2.40) and it looks like Chevallier will go off as favourite with some bookmakers going 7/2 early doors.

Archie Watson's gelding just about scraped a win from Cherbourg in a handicap here in late January but he's up a couple of pounds in the weights and I reckon the handicapper has his measure with a rating of 89.

A son of Danehill Dancer, Constantino has finished runner-up in his latest three starts and is also up a couple of pounds since his last run.

He tends to hold his head a little awkwardly and I'm starting to think he can't be trusted.

Therefore, preference is for Haaf A Sixpence, which is expected to go off in the region of 6/1 which is not a bad each-way price in a field of nine.

Ralph Beckett's eight-year-old won a reasonably competitive handicap here off a mark of 85 in November, and he has run well without setting the world alight off today's rating of 88 in handicaps at Chelmsford and Southwell.

Certainly at Chelmsford, he never seemed to settle so he's worth another chance and it's interesting to see a 5lb claimer, Patrick O'Donnell, booked to ride this afternoon.

Ice Royal is of interest too around 5/1. Jamie Osborne's gelding is a consistent sort which ran well to finish a head second to Franco's Secret in a competitive handicap at Kempton last time.


1.50 Kempton: Charli Parcs

2.25 Kempton: Frodon

2.40 Lingfield: Haaf A Sixpence (e/w)

3.0 Kempton: Capitaine

3.15 Lingfield: Mutakayyef

3.35 Kempton: Opening Batsman (e/w)

Do the double


He'll probably be a little skinny around 8/15, but the BetBright Genius Adonis Juvenile Hurdle (1.50 Kempton) looks like a straightforward penalty kick for Charli Parcs, trained by Nicky Henderson. He's quite short in the betting for the Triumph Hurdle and that's not surprising considering the manner in which he dismissed his rivals on his British debut in December.


Liverpool have had their troubles, but they can surely beat a Leicester side which have just sacked their manager Claudio Ranieri and have lost their past five league matches. Jurgen Klopp's men are well rested, having not played since beating Spurs on February 11, and the 8/13 for the win on Monday looks quite fair.

Last week's double was successful at an overall price of just under 9/1.

Irish Independent

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