Well I said last week after the preview evening that I was going to see how I got on this week at the festival having barely watched any National Hunt racing this winter.
SUPREME NOVICES HURDLE
Cant have the favourite in this as its too short for this cavalry charge, I dont have any idea of what the winner is going to be but one that looks overpriced is RATHLIN who won last time out and his trainer said afterwards "This is a gorgeous, gorgeous horse. He scoped badly a few days after he ran at Clonmel last time but all of my horses were sick at the time. We`ve always thought the world of him". On arrival in the UK he says on his website "Rathlin runs tomorrow in the first race the Supreme Novices hurdle and although he is lacking in experience which could see him a little slower over the daunting obstacles, we are sure the experience of Jason Maguire will more than make up for his inexperience. He is in our opinion a really decent sort who deserves to take his chances, here’s hoping he shows his full potential and puts in a big performance for all connections". He's 66/1 with Victor Chandler and 50s with virtually everyone else.
The Henderson horses have to be respected and Barry Geraghty suums them up as follows " Make no mistake, these are both top-class novice hurdlers and it was with no great certainty that I made my decision. But I rode both a week ago last Saturday and Spirit Son just left me that bit more impressed.
The work showed me that he had improved a little bit, he carried me and took me through the work really nicely and just gave me a very good feel.
Also, I think his public form has a much more solid look to it given that he beat Cedre Bleu 20 lengths at Exeter last time and that one looked very smart when he beat our Fred Winter candidate Titan De Sarti ten lengths at Newbury the time before. I do think that Spirit Son is a horse that is improving and has a big future.
I have huge respect for Sprinter Sacre and it’s impossible to really know how good he is because he’s won his last two so easily and has only been beaten once in five outings and I’ve been on him in all of them. It’s simply that he hasn’t beaten the calibre of opposition that Spirit Son has. Either way, it's a great spare ride for AP".
Only got 1 horse on my mind for this and that is MEDERMIT.
3M HANDICAP CHASE
Big field for this and although last year I said I would go for Bensalem this time around, and he's off the same mark, Ive decided to go with SUNNYHILLBOY who stayed on to finish 2nd in the 2m 5f Byrne Group Plate last year and Jonjo has done well with his chasers here in the past.
Personally I dont think this is a very good field for a Champion hurdle and on that basis I'm going for DUNGUIB who to me looked as though he should have won the Supreme Novices last year but for a bonkers ride from his jockey, ok he is on the beast again but surely he must have learnt from his mistake and he only has 10 opponents to negotiate this time and 9/1 is good value in my book.
Its easy for a jockey to get confused on this track never mind the horse and its best to stick with those that have done it before and none of the field does it better than GARDE CHAMPETRE who is a worthy fav.
DAVID NICHOLSON MARES HURDLE or to be known in future as The Quevega Charity Race, should go to ........QUEVEGA !
Hope everyone who is going to the festival or just watching it on the TV has a great day and is able to keep their head above the water. I wouldnt get too keen on my selections though and if you want to read someone who is in top tipping form, gives solid advice on a daily basis and is a good read to boot then you should click onto Wayward Lad's blog which has a link at top right of this page.
Her trainer Peter Moody said after the race "Like I said last time, what do you say? You get lost for words because she's just awesome. I said to Luke to be as kind as you can for as long as you can because we don't have to be three in front at the furlong just an inch in front on the line. I'd like to think we've kept our cool all week and that extends to the horse. The public perception is the thing that scares me - I know she's going to give her all and the only thing that would bring about her downfall is injury.
Black Caviar will tonight, if winning in the Lexus Newmarket Handicap at Flemington, take another giant step to being the greatest sprinter the world has ever seen. She has won all nine of her starts to date, however this Group 1 Handicap will probably represent her toughest test so far.
Trainer of one of the 11 in opposition Eagle Falls David Hayes says "We have an in-form horse going really well but we might be racing against an all-time great in Black Caviar. This is a handicap, it is a horse race so you never know but it is probably mission impossible. We have to beat the best sprinter in years. There are no obvious chinks in Black Caviar's armour but you don't scratch for one horse".
You will be able to catch the race on Attheraces tonight if you feel like watching a bit of Horse Racing history.
Here is a review of events at Mondays Cheltenham Preview evening at Maghull Town Hall.
The evening was hosted by the jovial John Morris with John Parrott, Matt Williams and Ken Pitterson giving their respective take on things.
Well the Town Hall certainly lived up to a venue befitting that name as when the PA System was turned on to commence proceedings we had to endure "Push and push, step forward and back" the PA system had somehow got mixed up with the downstairs aerobics class ! and we had the delights of the panel doing their Mr Motivator routines to the repetitive thumping beat. That was funny for the first 5 minutes but 30 minutes later the joke had well and truly worn a bit thin and someone was despatched to try and pull the plug...... literally !. Unfortunately the bloke that went wasnt quite man enough as we heard him being kicked out of the room over the PA by the burly keep fit woman Instructor !!
Eventually however calm was restored and it all came to an end and the aerobics lesson finished and the 200 or so people packing the hall could get what they had paid for, some hot tips for Cheltenham ??
First up on Day 1 was the Supreme Novices and most of the panel agreed that Cue Card was the way forward for this. Similarly in the Arkle only 1 horse dominated the conversation and that was Medermit ( 2 favs...... were not getting told much here, can we have the aerobics back please !).
Next was the Festival Handicap Chase and John Parrott made a big case for Pipe's Great Endeavour and there were negatives for Bensalem. Ken Pitterson thinks Weird Al is a big ew player for this, if he runs and he also mentioned Nicholls Definity which got nods of approval. The Champion Hurdle next and no surprises here as most seemed keen on Binocular with the horse having been primed for this race alone, Khyber Kim was given as a solid ew alternative, Peddlers Cross didnt have much support and it was felt that Binocular should have the measure of him.
Day 2 starts with the Neptune Novices Hurdle and Matt W was keen on Rock on Ruby ew for this and if it turned up soft then Oscars Well, whereas John P and Ken P were both for So Young with the latter saying the Irish have a strong hand and he expects this to go their way. The RSA Chase had Matt W saying that Time for Rupert was a banker for him, he pointed to his 17 length beating of Quinz at Cheltenham and that horses subsequent Racing Post Chase win. Ken P said that Wymott was a good ew and John M Magnanimity also ew. The Queen Mother and all seemed to side with Big Zeb as the one to win this and the only other horse mentioned was the ew alternative of Woolcombe Folly by Ken P. Next was the Coral Cup which Matt W ducked and John P selected Call the Police and also said Dynaste could be a Pipe handicap plot for this and suggested an ew. Ken P went for Aegean Dawn and John M For Non Stop. The Fred Winter there were a few mentioned, John P suggested Celtus and Kumbeshwar and the shrewd Charles Byrnes Domination, all ew. Matt W came up with O' Grady's Sailors Warn EW who finished 2nd to Unaccompanied in Ireland. Ken P also went with Kumbeshwar and Celtus and John M went for Whitby Jack which was strange as he doesnt even mention it for the race in his cheltenham preview book. Last but not least the Cheltenham bumper and Matt W said he could not better anything Ken P could say about Bumpers and Novices, and that he was the man for this. Ken P then put forward Knights Pass to be another home winner for this race and was complimentary about his chances.
Day 3 The Jewson Novices Chase and Matt W and John P think whichever Hobbs horse turns up between Wishful Thinking and Captain Chris should be respected, both are owned by the same person so probably wont run in the same race although Hobbs has said they will. Ken P was pretty certain Wishful Thinking would run in this race and he also mentioned Loosen My Load and Mr Gardner EW, a bold jumper, John M also went for Mr Gardner. The Pertemps Final and John P thinks this could be another for the Pipe team and put up Chartreux and or Dynaste to do the business, Matt P went for Benbane Head EW, Ken P Alfie Spinner and Kilcrea Kim and John M Barafundle. The Ryanair Chase and Matt W said he had good reports about Tranquil Sea and if it was to come up softish he would be very keen on him, John P picked Poquelin if the going was Good and referred to his 4 wins at the track, he also mentioned Kalahari King at 8/1. Ken P went for Alberta's Run last years winner to maintain the previous winners at Cheltenham hold on this race. John M suggested Weird Al if running. The World Hurdle brought about the best argument of the night with Matt and Ken P siding with Grand Crus and John P Big Bucks, John M mentioned Zaynar and the rest of the panel were bemused by this selection.
The final day and the Triumph kicked off proceedings with Matt W being keen on Unaccompanied, Ken P was also keen and gave mentions to Third Intention EW and Zarkander who he thinks will win. The County Hurdle and Matt W put forward Gordon Elliotts Dirar who won the Ebor last summer and he thinks he will be in on a light weight for this, Ken P went for Snap Tie EW and John P sided with Mullins Final Approach. John M suggested Tito Bustillo. The Albert Bartlett next and Matt gave this a miss and both John P and Ken P went for Champion Court with John P also suggesting Nicholls Join Together and Ken P also suggesting Hendersons Mossley and John M Spirit of Adjisa. Last but not least the Gold Cup itself and Matt W thinks Imperial Commander for this, Ken P put a dampener on it though saying he had heard rumours that the horse just wasnt the same this year and he and John P put forward the 6yo Long Run. Matt said that he thought Midnight Chase had an EW chance as did John M.
Well thats it, you can look back in 2 weeks time and see who was right and who was wrong, I myself have not bothered with jumps racing this winter and I have watched less than 10 races, however I'm going to challenge myself to see how my selections compare with the professionals above with only 1 weeks preparation and you can keep watch of how I get on right here on the blog.
Another week goes by and it wont be long now until we are welcoming in the turf flat season and what a season we have to look forward to from day one at the end of this month !
However we still have the AW season to finish and last week we had some decent sprints all things considered and we start with the Class 5 5f Handicap at Kempton on Wednesday 23rd February which was won by Desert Strike by 1 1/2 lengths from Six Wives. The winners rating was raised 6lb to 74 and the second 1lb to 73 and of those behind Lord of the Reins in 6th was dropped 1lb to 62, he was drawn 1 and in the past he has won off marks of 73 and 75 here over 5f and his turn mightnt be that far away.
The Class 4 Handicap on the same night run over 6f was won by Ebraam the 8yo who came with a well timed run to win by 3/4 of a length from Jack Rackham and and the consistent Sioux Rising. The winner was raised 4lb to a mark of 88 and the second 1lb to 78, the 3rd and 4th Clear Praise were left on the same marks of 83 and 81 respectively. The latter looked a horse to follow on his previous run here and he may have benefitted from being held up so he may improve again if adopting those tactics next time.
Lingfield on Saturday the 26th served up the best AW racing of the week and the Blue Square Sprint Series Final Handicap over 6f went to Norville who made virtually all in this competitive event. As a result he has been upped 6lb by the handicapper to a mark of 74 and the second Rio Royale who was 1 3/4 lengths behind was raised 1lb to 64 with the 3rd Qadar left on the same mark. The latter did well considering in the past he hasnt usually run 2 good races together and he may be capable of winning again in a lesser race than this. Waabel finished 7th and he can be forgiven this run as he was drawn 10 and for one who likes to be in the front he was always going to find it a struggle from that draw and he remains on the same mark of 79. The race itself was run in a time of 1min 10.54 which was slightly faster than the Listed contest.
Later in the afternoon the aforementioned Listed Cleves Stakes run over 6f was won by David Barron's second string Waveband by a neck from Anne of Kiev with Duff a short head away in 3rd. There was very little in it come the finish and the winner who made all stuck to her task well, as a result she has been raised 6lb to a mark of 96 with the Second going up 2lb to 95. As there was only 3 lengths covering the first 9 home its difficult to glean anything from the race as there was a fine line between winning and losing, however Anne of Kiev continued her improvement.
The 6.40 at Kempton is a Class 5 sprint handicap run over 6f, there is a fairly short run to the first bend here and in that respect the draw can sometimes be a big influence on the result.
The 11 runners line up in draw order as set out below :
11 - Pelmanism
10 - Boragh Jamal
9 - Little Perisher
8 - Best Trip
7 - Sherjawy
6 - Italian Tom
5 - Pose
4 - Jungle Bay
3 - Garstang
2 - Al Gillani
1 - Cape Melody
However away from the draw Garstang would appear to be back to his best form after his two wind operations and although second last time out at Lingfield it was a good effort off 73 to finish behind Waabel as there was 2 3/4 lengths back to the 3rd and he was up front throughout. The winner didnt frank the form in the final of the series on Saturday but that was only to be expected as he didnt have the best of draws in any event in that race. Garstang himself could have won at Lingfield last time had he not lugged to his left when turning into the straight and there is every chance given some luck in running from his 3 draw that he could win this under Luke Morris having won twice here in the past. He drifted alarmingly in the betting at Lingfield so dont be put off if that happens again.
Jane Chapple Hyam has been doing well with her AW runners (8 wins in 2011) and Jungle Bay who finished 2nd to Norville last time out off 72, (the winner had a mark of 64) had the form franked by the winner over last weekend when Norville won the Sprint final by 1 3/4 lengths off a mark of 68. He has looked like 7f will suit but he stays with 6f here and he will be finishing with a flourish up the straight and will be hoping that the gaps appear at the right time. He has been dropped 13lb since arriving in the UK. Al Gilliani ran well last time out and that could be a signal for him to return to form from a favourable mark, also Boragh Jamal from stall 10 is another to consider with Manton News saying the following about her "Consistent filly who found five furlongs a little short here last time, although she did win over that course and distance earlier. She should prefer this extra furlong and has a favourable high draw to help her. Sporting chance".
All in all its another trappy sprint handicap that any of the runners could win with luck on their side and I wouldnt put anyone off doing some sort of perm tote bet on the above highlighted runners.
I have been a follower of racing from an early age with my first memory being trying to pick the winner of the Derby in 1965. This interest has moved on to having shares in horses which has resulted in wins at the Dubai Festival, with Turn on the Style, and more recently with Tatlisu in the Ayr Silver Cup.
This blog is primarily about sprinters which I have always had an interest in and it will cover most 5f and 6f races throughout the season.