Weekend Review

Good morning all,

It's the usual Monday fayre but at least Cartmel breaks up the monotony a bit. I know Summer Jumping isn't everyone's cup of tea – it's hardly mine at times – but concentrating on just one thing does seem to help, especially if I can get to as many tracks as possible to see the condition of the horses as well.

Anyway, we've just had a weekend peppered with Jumps fixtures, and it might be worth stopping to have a look to do a small review, and point a few things out that might come in useful in the coming weeks.

The Woes Of Jonjo

Two years ago Jonjo O'Neill was enjoying a good Summer Jumping season with figures of 16%-14%-33% for June July and August and he bettered that last year with 26%-21%-24%, showing tremendous consistency through the Summer months. However, this time around, that consistency is lacking, and despite the odd flurry, he's struggling for winners. Just 11% in May was followed by a respectable enough 19% in June, but just the one winner in July from 25 runners (4%) indicates a rather sudden downturn in fortunes.

One or two seemed to run better over the weekend but equally a few went backwards after promising efforts – As You Like went off 5-4f at Newton Abbot yesterday on the back on a good debut effort but was beaten some way out and wouldn't have held third but for What A Joke making a mess of the last.

It may be he'll come good in August as he has done for the last couple of seasons, but anything short from the yard at the moment needs treating with caution.

Is Peter Bowen's Calendar Wrong?

Possibly just as baffling is the fact that Peter Bowen, who normally trains winners for fun during the Summer and always has something lined up for Market Rasen's big meeting, is also somewhat on the sick list. He was banging them in during May and June but just the one winner in July from 15 runners means that he's another trainer that needs to be watched rather than backed at present. To be fair to Peter, his runners have generally been a price (most have gone off 7-1 and bigger) but he has had a few favourites well  beaten too, and I'd wait to see an upturn in fortunes before backing one of his with confidence.

Vaughan's Struggles Continue

However, neither are as bad as Tim Vaughan, whose runners are even struggling to finish their races off. Just 1 winner from his last 45 runners in June and July, and that coming off the back off a great April/May period where he was 13-97. He didn't have any runners at all over the weekend, and you'd have to think there's something seriously amiss with the yard at present.

Change Of Scenery Does The Trick

Stynes won at the first time as asking for Graeme MacPherson yesterday – at a whopping 20-1 too, not even the yard's first string in the race – and became the second horse to leave Ali Stronge's yard in recent times to win first time up for another yard (Call The Detective being the other). Don't get me wrong – I think Ali and Sam Stronge both know what they're doing, in fact they're having quite a good time of it themselves – but clearly one or two are benefitting from a change of regime. It may be some time before there's another runner that fits this particular criteria but it's worth pointing out anyway.

Saturday's pick Rebecca's Choice ran well but couldn't hit the frame despite getting beaten less than three lengths in a long distance chase! Today, I'm hoping Utmost Zeal runs well for Lawney Hill in the first at Cartmel – I was with her when he ran recently at Worcester, which was something of a fact finding mission on his first run for the yard. He's a bit of a tearaway at home and really Worcester was all about getting him to race properly, which he's never really done in any of his previous races.

He's got Golden Town to beat, ex-Godolphin and having his first run for Jimmy Moffatt, who has such a good record both at Cartmel and with other's castoffs, but has had a long layoff, suggesting there might have been issues. It's a race up for grabs and you'd have to be hopeful of a good run with Utmost Zeal if he settles early.

But for the bet – well, I've had Attention Please on a tracker for a year now and this does look his opportunity to score (4.55). Despite getting put up 4lb for that good run last time, he's still 13lb below his initial handicap mark and this looks an easier race too.

Good luck with all your fancies today,

David.

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