Thursday, 16 January 2014

Cartmel's Royalty & The Mad Moose

Spare a thought for the owners of Mad Moose, one of most unpredictable horses in training. Trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies, the 10-year-old gelding has refused to race in four of his thirteen races since the start of last season and has just been handed a nine-month ban by the British Horseracing Authority. 

During the same period, he has won one race, been placed in three (finishing second to the almighty steeplechaser Sprinter Sacre) as well as putting in a fine fourth to Zarkander, Grandouet and Rock on Ruby – three of the top hurdlers of last season. 

The BHA has reportedly taken action in an effort to protect punters, but when you consider that he has only started at odds of less than 10/1 once in his last thirteen races and has been sent off at 33/1 or more on six occasions, you have to believe that his quirks are already factored into the bookmakers’ prices.  

Last Sunday, The Racing Post reminded us that it is exactly 25 years since Desert Orchid dug his way into our hearts by giving 22lbs and a head beating to Panto Prince in the Victor Chandler Chase Ascot – one of the most exciting races of all time. I remember the race clearly because my money was on Vodkatini – another equine rogue who sometimes refused to start and often gave away huge distances at the beginning of a race, only to come shooting past his rivals in the finishing straight. Yes, he could be frustrating, but even now I’d have to put him in my top ten list of favourite horses. Racing needs characters, especially equine ones.    

For this week’s tips, though, we’re not going to Ascot (even though it is a good card), nor are we relying on the quirks of an equine character – instead we’ll be putting our faith in one of Cartmel’s most reliable, honest and hard-working trainers (okay, he’s the only trainer in the village, but he’s definitely a good egg!) – Jimmy Moffatt.  

Jimmy’s yard has been in excellent form recently and he’s likely to have two runners at Haydock, both of which are worth backing for a place at potentially large prices. Quel Elite enjoys soft ground, has come out of a recent Sedgefield race in good order and will carry very little weight in the opening race on the card.

However, the star of the stable is Morning Royalty. He may have nearly two stone to make up on official ratings to threaten the favourites for Haydock's Champion Hurdle Trial, Ptit Zig and Melodic Rendezvouz, but I suspect that the real difference in ability is not nearly so great – he might not win, but he’ll surprise a few people. Back him each way.

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