Wednesday 15 August 2018

Projection has form to strike for Charlton

Betting Ring

Projection's trainer Roger Charlton. Photo: Getty Images
Projection's trainer Roger Charlton. Photo: Getty Images

Wayne Bailey

In ancient Greek culture, one of the more interesting figures is Dionysus, who was the god of various things including wine, euphoria and fertility.

He had the power to inspire excitement and elation among his worshippers, although I wonder if part of that was down to the fact that his cult encouraged copious and unrestricted wine consumption.

An important figure in Greece, the Romans took a less favourable view. They knew him as Bacchus, and he's often portrayed in their literature as a jolly but devious god, which would be invoked at drinking parties and other hedonistic events.

In fact, around 200 years before the birth of Christ, festivals and celebrations around Bacchus were banned in Italy as they ended up getting out of hand quite often.

Sculpture Bacchus festivals sound like a bit of craic to me, and some readers may be familiar with Michelangelo's sculpture of the same name which depicts the god, goblet in hand, rolling eyes, and a gait which appears to be staggering.

Actually, that's exactly what a mate of mine looked like in the local, a few hours after backing the horse named Bacchus in the Wokingham Stakes at Ascot last month at 33/1. But I somehow doubt he was aware of the connection, and he'd placed the bet simply because he follows Brian Meehan-trained horses.

It was a big win for the four-year-old and Bacchus is now up in class for today's Group Three Bet365 Hackwood Stakes (3.0 Newbury), but his record at pattern level doesn't inspire much confidence. In the longer term, I wonder if he'll be best suited to the bigger high-quality handicaps instead.

Ninth in the Group Three Jersey Stakes last year, he's been racing in handicaps since, winning twice and coming close a number of times - although in fairness to connections, they've got to take a chance and try him out again at Group level, considering his latest race was arguably a career best.

He'll no doubt have his followers around 5/1, but I'm quite keen on Roger Charlton's Projection, which was trading at 7/2 in the early markets yesterday.

Now aged five, he hasn't won a race since September 2015 in ten attempts, which is an obvious concern, but he wasn't disgraced when finishing fifth in the Group One Diamond Jubilee Stakes last time, just two lengths behind the winner Merchant Navy.

A good second to Blue Point in a Group Three in October also shows he's comfortable in high-level company, and although he's become frustrating to follow, this race offers a great chance to finally get his head in front again.

For one at a bigger price, consider Ocean Jive each-way which was trading around 16/1 yesterday for the 188 Bet Summer Handicap Hurdle at Market Rasen (2.05).

A maiden hurdle winner last year, he's been placed in two handicap starts this summer and while his mark is creeping up, the former Brian Meehan Flat horse is still unexposed over timber.

At Newmarket, I'm quite keen on Melodic Motion around 11/2 for the Listed Smarkets Betting Exchange Aphrodite Stakes for fillies and mares (2.45).

Ralph Beckett's filly was disappointing on her return to racing this term when last in a similar race at York in June, but all horses are entitled to a bad day and I reckon she's best judged on last season's form.

Second in a Group Two at Doncaster in September, she was also runner-up in a Listed race at Lingfield in November.

While I'm not usually keen on backing horses in first-time blinkers, it can occasionally sharpen them up and could make the difference today.

Each-way

As a general rule, I'm not a fan of backing horses which haven't been seen in ages, but I'll make an exception for Seefood in the Listed 1888Bet Summer Plate Handicap Chase at Market Rasen (3.15).

Rated 129 today, he was second in the Sefton Chase at Aintree in December 2016 off 134, and was fancied in the 2017 Topham Chase off 137 last time - but fell after a number of mistakes.

The handicapper has cut him some slack and his trainer, former GP Richard Newland, has a reasonably good record with horses which have been away for some time. He definitely catches the eye around 12/1 in an otherwise open-looking race.

UK Selections

1.50 Newbury: Desert Encounter

2.05 Market Rasen: Ocean Jive (e/w)

2.25 Newbury: Stratum

2.45 Newmarket: Melodic Motion

3.0 Newbury: Projection

3.15 Market Rasen: Seefood (e/w)

Do the double

Gaelic Football

I stood on Hill 16 last week watching Dublin beat Donegal, and while it wasn't the most exciting, the boys in blue got the job done without getting fully into gear. Jim Gavin (right) brings his side north to face Tyrone today and while some expect a big test, I'm not convinced and fancy the Dubs to land the half-time/full-time result at 8/11.

Racing

Third to Ulysses in the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown last year, Desert Encounter was disappointing in the Group One Prince of Wales's Stakes at Ascot last time. But he has some winning form in the book at Group Three level, so should have what it takes to land the Listed Bet365 Steventon Stakes at Newbury (1.50) for trainer David Simcock, priced in the region of 9/2.

Irish Independent

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