“We’ll go to Coney
And eat baloney on a roll”
So sang Ella Fitzgerald in the words of the sublime Manhattan, with Coney referring to blue-collar tourist attraction Coney Island in Brooklyn, replete with fairground rides and overlooked by Deno’s Wonder Wheel.
The horse of that name (Coney Island, not Deno’s Wonder Wheel, which I’m thinking of reserving for myself) is one of the main attractions at Ascot on Saturday when he takes on Top Notch and Waiting Patiently in the Grade 1 Ascot Chase. There’s also the small matter of dual Ascot Chase winner Cue Card, and impressive Cheltenham scorer Frodon among the declarations, and while Eddie Harty’s charge is solid in the betting at around 4.5, I think he has a huge amount to prove in open company at this level.
A very promising novice last year when winning the Drinmore at Fairyhouse and bettered that when splitting Our Duke and Disko at Leopardstown. The form of those races has worked out very well, but Coney Island missed the second half of the 2016/17 season with an injury, and despite winning on his comeback over this C&D, hasn’t yet proved that he’s developed as well as the best of his peers.
The race he won here in December was inconclusive, with More of That running appallingly and Adrien du Pont setting up a decisive-looking lead only to stop dead in the straight. Coney Island was left to pick up the pieces and it’s debatable whether he would have done so had the leader not cut his own throat.
It’s still possible that Harty’s star will prove himself the top notcher his early chase form promised, but he is up against one of the most prolific Grade 1 winners of recent times as well as a pair of progressive young chasers who have achieved more in open company and on the clock. Even Speredek, who is a much tougher front-runner than Adrien du Pont looks capable of turning him over, and with Eddie Harty’s only win in the last calendar year coming via this gelding, the percentage call must be to oppose him. He’s short enough in the win market, but if I’m right in my reasoning, then he will find more than one too good, so I would recommend taking a bigger risk for greater reward in the place market.
Now that Matchbook has launched in-running betting, I’d also be keen to trade the aforementioned Speredek, who will surely poach a decent lead and should be trading much shorter than his pre-race price after jumping a couple of fences. I’ll keep it simple, by looking to back him at 25.0 or bigger pre-race and then laying the stake back at around half those odds for what should prove a free bet.
In the Kingwell Hurdle at Wincanton, I don’t really understand why the handicapper Call Me Lord can be preferred to last year’s runner-up Ch’tibello. The former won a class 4 at Sandown last time by outstaying inferior rivals, and while he was visually impressive, he was fully entitled to be given the exposed placed horses are rated 125 or less by the handicapper. Racing against pattern-class hurdlers at one of the quickest circuits in the country will be an altogether different test, and Call Me Lord looks far too short at around 2.5. I expect the market will correct itself as the day goes on, so lay him early, and lay him heavy.
- 14.45 Wincanton – Lay Call Me Lord @ 2.75 or less
- 15.35 Ascot – Place Lay Coney Island @ 2.5 or less
- 15.35 Ascot – Back Speredek @ 25.0 or better, and lay stake back @ half your odds in running