Stat of the Day, 25th August 2012
First In Command unfortunately didn't live up to his name yesterday, as he somewhat blotted the recent form of both himself and his trainer. We jumped on him at 14/1 E/W, he opened at 12's and weakened to 16/1 at the off: so no real trading angle either. He began to struggle 2f from home: not good in a 6 furlong race and faded away late on, eventually coming home in 8th, some 5 lengths or so shy of the winner.
Our quest to stop the rot takes us to one of the UK's most scenic settings for racing, as we tackle a Class 3 Handicap Hurdle over 2 miles 1.5 furlongs. The going is set to be good to soft and the withdrawal of one of the eight runners means we'll be looking for a straight win bet in the...
Trainer John Quinn doesn't send too many horses to this quaint Cumbrian village course, but when he does send them they tend to perform very well. I always think that Cartmel attracts a particular type of trainer and horse, and a s such has its own course specialists. In the last couple of years, Mr Quinn seems to have got to grips with what's needed on this tight, undulating mile-long loop. In the last couple of years, he has managed to make the frame with four of just six runners at the track and two of those were winners. I know it's a small sample size, but it does tend to suggest that he picks his Cartmel outings very carefully indeed.
Mr Quinn is actually double-handed today: Luccombe Chine looks to have a decent E/W chance in the 2.35 race at odds of around 7/1, but the one I'm most interested in is Royal Bonsai.
Royal Bonsai runs in the 4.55 race: the Cartmel Cup and would seem to represent the trainer's best chance of a win at the meeting. He took very well to hurdling last season and completed a hat-trick of victories with a win in a Grade 2 contest at Doncaster last December. His connections thought enough of him to enter him for the Fred Winter at Cheltenham in March, where he wasn't disgraced by any means: he finished 14th of 24, but there were still some decent horses behind him nonetheless.
He hasn't actually run over hurdles since that day, but has sharpened up for this one with a career best performance over the flat, when finishing a narrow second to Sohcahtoa at Musselburgh a fortnight ago over a two-mile trip. That run should have him ready for today's event and contrary to the shape of the early market, he looks the one to beat today.
A quick parting word about today's jockey: Dean Pratt takes the ride and will hopefully make full use of his 7lb claim here. Dean is a good jockey, as his record testifies. In just 26 rides so far, he has already ridden 6 winners and made the frame on a further 10 occasions: a pretty good start to his career.
As I said earlier, the market has looked elsewhere for favourites, so there's an attractive-looking 11/2 BOG available for Royal Bonsai at bet365, so that's where my shillings are going today, but you can (and should!)...
Click here for the latest odds for the 4.55 Cartmel.