Thursday 22 March 2018

Unexposed Billy Blue should finally come good for Gosden

Billy Blue's trainer John Gosden
Billy Blue's trainer John Gosden

I WAS looking through some of my late father's old photographs from the 1970s the other day, and I came across a picture of the former football pundit, player and Manchester United manager Tommy Docherty.

It was taken at a function in Kilternan at some sort of dinner dance, and I remember my old man telling me that he had a good chat with 'The Doc' about horseracing, even though the Glaswegian was never a big punter.

Docherty found the sport quite frustrating, once quipping "I don't follow particular horses, although the horses I back seem to".

We've all been there I suppose, and I was left pulling my hair out just over a week ago when a horse I've been following, Billy Blue, was runner-up for the second time in a row in a handicap at Kempton Park.

I stuck John Gosden's gelding in the book as one to keep an eye on when he won his maiden at that venue back in December, and he needed the run when finishing well down the field on his seasonal reappearance at Sandown.

He stepped up markedly to come second when next seen in a handicap off a mark of 75 at Windsor last month and as mentioned earlier, he also ran creditably when second to Masterpaver off 1lb higher at Kempton last time.

At a pony (€25) a pop, I haven't lost a fortune on him but pennies make pounds and it's all beginning to add up.

While I don't want to follow him off a cliff, I do believe he's still unexposed and is worth another shot in today's Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Handicap (1.35 Newbury) with the early price of 11/4 looking about right.

What worries me most about this horse is his temperament (he can get distracted easily) so I hope that the addition of headgear today will aid his concentration.

The handicapper hasn't been too harsh leaving him on a mark of 76 so I reckon he'll have an edge over his nearest rival in the betting, Fire Fighting, which is up 5lbs to 85 following a recent win at Brighton.

There's also a couple of Group races on the Newbury card including the Betfred TV Geoffrey Freer Stakes for which Seal Of Approval catches the eye at 6/1.

Whether or not you see that price as good value depends on how much weight you are going to give her latest piece of form when, for the first time, she flopped and finished second-last in the Lancashire Oaks at Haydock.

In my view, she just wasn't right on the day and you'll often find that if a horse is otherwise consistent, they can put a bad showing behind them after a short break.

That was six weeks ago and the word from James Fanshawe's yard is that the talented mare is back to herself at home.

Red Cadeaux (4/1) is likely to go off as favourite but I reckon Somewhat (7/1) is the biggest threat to the selection based on an excellent third place in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown.


AS usual, the William Hill Great St Wilfrid Handicap (3.30 Ripon) is extremely competitive but a chance is taken each-way on David Barron's Colonel Mak, priced in the region of 14/1.

The seven-year-old had not won a race in over a year but bounced right back to form when unexpectedly taking a seven-runner handicap here last time out at 14/1. The handicapper has given him an extra 5lbs but if Graham Gibbons can get out early into his preferred front-running position, he should have every chance.

Last week's main selection, Amralah, won at 14/1

Today's selections

1.35 Newbury: Billy Blue

2.30 Doncaster: The Dukkerer

2.40 Newbury: Seal Of Approval

3.30 Ripon: Colonel Mak (e/w)

3.50 Newbury: Gregorian

4.20 Chester: Hanno

4.50 Doncaster: Pearl Blue

Irish Independent

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