Early Bird – 21st April

What A Shot went out to 33/1 but rewarded our e/w bet by landing 4th showing the importance once more of shopping around and taking the extra places if you can.

1:45 Ayr – Forest Bihan

Forest Bihan has a fine record on good or faster ground of U1121. It unseated when over 2m 4f in a hurdle race when staying on at the time. The second was when runner up to San Benedeto in the Doom Bar Novices grade 1 chase at Aintree last year. Began this season winning a handicap chase at Kelso off a mark of 154, the same as it has today but still giving weight to Simply Ned in second who obvious went and beat Min over in Ireland. Forest Bihan then ran three poor races but all on unsuitably soft ground before comfortably winning a jumpers bumper in preparation for Cheltenham. However, the soft conditions there meant connections bypassed the meeting and have held the horse back since for better ground. Does have to concede weight all round here but the opposition are no where near as strong as it has faced in the past and with the ground come good this horse will enjoy the sun on its back.

1pt win Forest Bihan  @ 8/1 widely available

 

2:20 Ayr – Keeper Hill

Ignore the falls and this horse would have a great chance. Was leading and still travelling well when falling four out in a race won by Barney Dwan who is 4lb worse off here yet is currently favourite with most bookmakers. Keepers Hill may of struggled to jump out of the tacky soft ground at Cheltenham so back on good ground and with champion jockey Richard Johnson in the saddle I think it could go really well.

1pt e/w Keeper Hill @ 12/1 LAdbrokes, Coral, WillHill and BetVictor

 

2:55 Ayr – Chesterfield

Was really hoping the ground was going to come up decent for this race as Chesterfield went straight in my notebook at Cheltenham after running a cracker in the County. Jumped the last level with the contenders, it faded on the run in, probably finding the test of the stiff finish and soft ground against it. Had travelled really well making a big move into the straight. Winner of this race last year off a 2lb higher mark, it comes into the race in good nick and with a fair jockey taking 5lb off, I would be gutted if a horse whose record of 21114 in March and April doesn’t go close to at least winning this.

1.5pt win Chesterfield @ 13/2 Bet365, Ladbrokes and WillHill

 

4:05 Ayr – Beware The Bear & Looking Well

I am determined that Beware The Bear will win one of the marathons one day when things go right for it, especially in the jumping stakes. Ran really well in the 4m at Cheltenham last year having hit one hard early, almost knocking the jockey off of the saddle. Given a good patient ride it was brought into the race well only for that blunder to tell late. Won a listed handicap chase earlier this year when looked to be beaten before flying from the clouds to win. The horse probably isn’t the most straight forward but has long since promised to stay a marathon and as only an 8yo has plenty of time. Handles any ground I will be fascinated to see how it gets on.

I have also added a bet on Looking Well, who was all set to win before swerving and unshipping his jockey last time over 4m 1f at Musselburgh. Proved it stayed, the faster the ground the better I feel for this horse who has won on good to firm at Kelso. Has a nice low weight and the yard had a winner at the meeting on Friday. This is a harder race than it has faced but I think it can go well if not showing any of the antics from last time.

1pt e/w Beware The Bear @ 22/1 LAdbrokes 1/5th odds 6 places

0.75pt e/w Looking Well @ 16/1 Coral 1/5th odds 7 places

 

4:40 Ayr – Burbank & Sky Khan

Still not been repaid on this horse who went in my notebook after Cheltenham last year. Looked the ideal type for big field handicaps on decent ground, however, the one time it has actually got its conditions at Aintree at the beginning of this season, it flopped. Possible it wasn’t suited to the long absence as generally its best runs have come with a recent run to its name. Not disgraced lately on ground likely softer than ideal, on a fast surface and a big field hopefully it can show its neptune form of last season.

I also can’t resist a small bet on an old favourite in Sky Khan. Quite simply, fast ground and a big field and invariably it runs its race and go close. A few pounds out of the handicap here though good jockey riding with plenty of confidence negates the weight issue whilst the yard has been in fine form. No excuses here why it can’t run really well off a low weight.

1pt e/w Burbank @ 7/1 1/5th odds 4 places widely available

0.5pt e/w Sky Khan @ 20/1 1/5th odds 4 places widely available

 

3:45 Newbury – Tony Curtis & Repercussion

Sods law that you wait on two horses in a 25 runner handicap and they end up drawn next to each other! At least it is in the middle of the track though so they have options on where to go. First I will talk about is Tony Curtis who was well tested as a 3yo in group company leaving it with an unmanagable handicap mark. That began to drop though proving it is more suited to handicap company when running a belter in the Bunbury Cup to finish 4th from a poor draw. Followed that up with a fast finishing 2nd at Goodwood over a mile. Handles any ground you have to think it will go close again at some point this season in a similar race.

Repercussion has fitness on its side after finishing 5th in the Lincoln on ground more than soft enough for it. Travelled well that day but got in a barging match between a couple of rivals which saw it get squeezed out, losing its momentum. Plodded on when race over and though would not have beaten the classy winner it could have finished closer.

1pt e/w Tony Curtis @ 11/1 1/5th odds 6 places Skybet

0.75pt e/w Repercussion @ 16/1 1/5th odds 6 places Skybet