Horse Racing Tips: Saturday 31st December 2016
14:05 Lingfield – Grey Mirage @ 10/1 (each-way)
Marco Botti’s Grey Mirage is a seasoned campaigner when it comes to all-weather races of this nature. Four times a winner at Lingfield, the seven-year-old has plenty of solid form in the book and looks as though he might just be in the right of sort race here.
Having won a number of similar contests in the past, Grey Mirage has tended to be one those upper-bracket handicappers who, when getting favoured race conditions, generally runs well.
Although a total of 12 runners are set to go to post, there probably isn’t the greatest amount of depth in this field. A number of the entrants look as though a mile probably isn’t their ideal trip, while there’s a couple at either end of the weights who give the impression that this might be bit beyond them. With this in mind, if all is well with Botti’s gelding then this is a good opportunity.
Grey Mirage’s form figures over C&D (1231451573) are impressive, while the fact that he’s twice won from a handicap mark higher than the one he’s now on also bodes well.
There could of course be some reservations based on his performance at this track last time out. However, 7f isn’t his ideal trip and he was badly positioned from the start (drawn widest of all). That probably wasn’t his day and he was rightly given an easy race by his jockey. From a better draw this time out, in the sort of race that he’s proven himself capable of taking, punters certainly shouldn’t be put off.
In a race that looks more competitive on paper than it probably is in reality, a number of the market protagonists look over-fancied and, as a result, Grey Mirage is well worth the each-way money at an eye-catching 10/1.
14:40 Lingfield – Rydan @ 10/1 (each-way)
Having finished in a reasonably pleasing 3rd position over C&D on reappearance last time out, Gary Moore’s Rydan looks as though he should be going well in 14:40.
That race over C&D just a couple of weeks ago saw this gelding make a promising reappearance after 84 days off. Despite getting nowhere near a runaway winner, he showed encouraging signs and, with his fitness now improved, he should be capable of running a big race here.
In dropping down to a Class 3 event this time, Rydan’s task looks as though it could be a tad easier and it doesn’t look like he’s meeting any opponents who’re as well handicapped as the winner of his race last time out.
Most of this horse’s all-weather form comes from Kempton, where he’s proven that he can cut it at a level that’s a good bit better than this. Couple this with the fact that he performed well in the race mentioned above (his only other Lingfield outing) and it’s hard to see why we won’t see a good showing on Saturday.
Punters can also take encouragement by the jockey booking of Shane Kelly. Moore and Kelly have a fairly decent strike rate when teaming up – a strike that could easily improve here.
All things considered, Rydan is another one who might just be underestimated in the betting and, at a price of 10/1, this Class 3 winner is worth being on each-way.
13:05 Uttoxeter – Akula @ 7/1
The 13:05 at Uttoxeter is a race where Barry Leavy’s Akula has a big opportunity to deliver the goods.
Having shown more than enough promise last season in Class 4 events to suggest that he’s definitely up to winning at that level, this gelding has disappointed a bit in two runs so far this season, but he now drops into a reasonably weak-looking Class 5 event from a very attractive handicap mark.
It would be fair to say that the two races he’s contested so far this season have both been strong events and the gelding can therefore be forgiven for putting in below par performances; however, he should be delivering anything but in this race.
If capable of matching any of last season’s good form, the nine-year-old really ought to be getting seriously involved here. Add in the fact that his last success came over C&D in a similar looking race, and it’s hard not to think Akula should be running a big race.
The ground looks to be in his favour, while his trainer has both a respectable strike rate at the course and when teaming up with the jockey aboard.
The last time this horse raced in a Class 5 handicap he bolted up over C&D (off 1lb higher) and, after some below par efforts in a higher grade, he’s been found an excellent opportunity to get back in the swing of things.
13:40 Uttoxeter – Cloudy Copper @ 20/1 (each-way)
Jonjo O’Neill’s Cloudy Copper probably won’t catch the eye of too many punters now back hurdling, but, at a big price, he looks as though he could spring a surprise and run well.
This lightly raced nine-year-old has been campaigned mainly over fences in his 13-race career, although when he has found himself racing over timber, he’s acquitted himself really well.
In three races over the smaller obstacles, Cloudy Copper has two wins and a 3rd to his name. Not bad stats at all, especially when we consider that two of the runs came at Class 3 level.
In reality, we’re talking about a horse who’s shown absolutely nothing over fences in three runs this season, in fact he’s been very poor. But the switch back to hurdles, over a shorter trip, could easily see him in a better light. After all, he’s clearly a horse with plenty of ability – you only have to look at the manner of some of his previous wins in good-looking contests to work that out.
The last time Cloudy Copper raced over hurdles was back in March. Against a number of opponents who’re a good bit better than anything in this field he ran with plenty of credit to take 3rd place, and in watching that race (25f) you can’t help but think that he would’ve gone closer had it come over a shorter trip such as this one.
All in all, we’re talking about a horse who’s likely to be largely unfancied based on recent form, but if the switch sparks a revival then O’Neill’s gelding could easily surprise a few here.
See all of Saturday’s tips here.
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