Coral Hurdle (Ascot Hurdle) Preview 2012

A small and select field for the 2012 renewal of the Coral Hurdle (Grade 2) at Ascot on Saturday, with just the four runners going to post.

Won last year by the Donald McCain trained Overturn who has now embarked on a novice chasing campaign, so won’t be around to try and defend his crown so it’ll be going with a horse that will be winning this race for the first time.

[frame_right src=”” href=””][/frame_right]1. GET ME OUT OF HERE
A very likeable son of Accordion, who is very likely to be the pace in this race under champion jockey Tony McCoy. He has put together back-to-back successes in his two recent runs and given he usually comes on plenty for his first run you have to take note of that victory last time out over Brampour, in the William Hill Hurdle. He has high class form but was held by Oscar Whisky whilst in receipt of weight (8lb) when second in the Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2) at Cheltenham last year.

[frame_right src=”” href=””][/frame_right]2. OSCAR WHISKY
Without doubt the class horse in the race, and many would argue he was coming to win the race last year when taking a tumbling fall when overstepping the final flight. He is a small field specialist with form reading: 111F1111 (8 runners or less), and has a killer burst of acceleration which will be his great strength in this sort of battle. I think he is the one to beat and is likely to sit behind likely pace-setter Get Me Out Of Here, stalking him into the straight and then easing clear over the last.

[frame_right src=”” href=””][/frame_right]3. BRAMPOUR
Has always been held in some regard at Ditcheat and in some ways has yet to reach the lofty heights he was touted for early on in his career, however last year showed somewhat of a resurgence to form; winning a handicap hurdle at Ascot before taking down the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham off 149. Came up short in both The International and the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham since, and was held by Get Me Out Of Here on return at Kempton on his most recent start. The step-up in trip ought to suit this stamina laden sort and that could bring out more improvement but he seems a horse better in larger fields where there is a true pace and could be undone by a tactical affair likely here.

[frame_right src=”” href=””][/frame_right]4. RAYA STAR
Hails from the Barbury Castle outfit of Alan King and has shown improvement through the handicapping ranks, rounding off with a good success in a decent handicap at this track last time out (off 149). Is certainly bred to improve over further even though his only start over the longer distance yielded a defeat to Premier Grand Cru (now rated 133), but I think Raya Star is a much better animal now than he was back then. He will need to improve again and I don’t think the small field will be of great help to him either given he likes to take cover in races and is likely to come up short against this opposition in these conditions.

On paper this race looks between OSCAR WHISKY and Get Me Out Of Here and I think that is what we’ll get, with the Nicky Henderson trained gelding confirming Relkeel Hurdle form with Jonjo’s charge. These two last locked horns in the Relkeel Hurdle (Grade 2) at Cheltenham last December and given that they now race off level weights you’d have to expect Oscar Whisky to confirm his 1.75L superiority over Get Me Out Of Here given the fact he is 8lbs better off at the weights.

If the ground got any softer it would be a concern for Brampour who has shown a liking for a little juice but not too much, but that wouldn’t hurt Raya Star’s chances who won a decent handicap around here last year in testing conditions and Alan King’s charge could sneak into third behind the main two if this is the case.

[notification_box]3pts win Oscar Whisky @ 5/6 with StanJames & Coral [/notification_box]


Duke’s Tips – Ladbroke Hurdle

Amazingly another excellent day for the blog with two winners from three selections, we rounded the day with a 15 point profit to advised stakes (not 18 as put accidently on Twitter) and thus continuing the fantastic run this blog has been on over the past month or so.

I genuinely haven’t expected it to be going so well as I am historically a flat based speed figures man and have in the past had a hard time trying to select winners over the sticks, but something is clearly going right at the moment and we just have to hope that trend can continue.

There was nothing of interest for today, and as Matt Chapman said on Attheraces “if you’re a first time racegoer you’re not turning up at Fakenham on a Monday are yah?” pretty much sums up the quality on offer on a quiet Monday afternoon.

I’ve turned my attentions towards the Ladbrokes Hurdle at Ascot the weekend, where I really expect the exciting Prospect Wells to continue winning ways and thrash these off a mark of 142.

He is a lovely big horse that was very decent on the flat in his native France winning a Group 2, before switching across to England and taking a listed race at Pontefract, before embarking on a hurdling career in the care of Paul Nicholls.

I was visually impressed with the run Prospect Wells gave at Cheltenham when narrowly beaten by Steps To Freedom and the way the raced panned out wouldn’t have suited him (jog-sprint). This is a horse that will benefit from a true pace throughout and I expect him to turn the form around in the Supreme Novices Hurdle in March.

I have to attribute this next piece of research to Nick Mordin via his website, he timed the Greatwood and Novice Hurdle that Brampour ran in and came up with this conclusion based on timings.

[quote]Incidentally, from a timing point of view, this was an interesting race. The official time was 6.5 seconds slower than it was for the Greatwood Hurdle on similar ground at the same meeting two days later. But that was partly because the runners in the Greatwood Hurdle started much closer to the first hurdle. From the first hurdle the time difference between the two races was only 3.9 seconds, which is pretty remarkable seeing that the novices went a slow pace till reaching the third flight. From that jump the novices came home 1.5 seconds faster than the Greatwood runners.[/quote]

If you work with the calculation that it takes 0.20sec over jumps for a horse to cover a length, then Prospect Wells has beaten Brampour by 7L off level weights from when the race got going (third flight) in the novices hurdle to the line which is some effort. Brampour was rated 149 at the time which would put Prospect Wells somewhere around 156 based on that effort which gives him a massive 14lb swing at the weights with his current official rating.

Another tenuous line would be through Brampour again who ran third to Grandouet in the International Hurdle off level weights beaten 4.5L, Grandouet is rated 164 which would further enhance the claims of Prospect Wells given the son of Saddler’s Wells is lightly raced and has plenty of scope for further improvement.

The larger field on offer at Ascot at the weekend will be a big plus for this gelding, and from what I have seen he should deliver a hammer blow to the bookies at the weekend, before moving up in the ranks and shortening massively in the betting for the Supreme Novices Hurdle.
So with that in mind, I’m going to bet as follows.

Ladbroke Hurdle:
3pts win Prospect Wells @ 9-2 with Bet365 [/notification_box]

Antepost: Supreme Novices Hurdle
2pts win Prospect Wells @ 14-1 with Boylesports, PaddyPower and William Hill. [/notification_box]