Sunday, 29 December 2013

The Best of the Rest



The King George wasn't a vintage year for me and Silvianaco Conti simply ground it out better than the others on the day with the going coming in his favour. The Gold Cup will probably be more up his street than this race however so there is little chance of Cue Card turning it around there and in any event it doesn't look, on this evidence, that he will be able stay that test and he will be better off in the Ryanair.

The Welsh National was much more of a contest and a spectacle for me with Tidal Bay trying to achieve the best weight carrying performance(OR163) in the race since Carvills Hill and boy did he nearly pull it off and all within a week of turning 13 years of age. In coming third he just failed to give 26lb to each of the first two home on the heavy going.
Of course there is no hard and fast rule as to when a horse should stop racing and retire, the general retirement age of 12 is something that has just come about over time and which all trainers seem to follow year in year out regardless of whether the horse is still capable or not it would seem. Nigel Twiston Davies is probably someone who doesn't stick fast to the 13 and you retire rule and he has had some success with the veterans in his yard.
Certainly for the Grand National, which will now be his next race, Tidal Bay will be cut some slack by the handicapper Phil Smith and as we could see yesterday he clearly wasn't stopping and would have been on top in another half furlong or so. Add to that the fact that he has never fallen, he unseated his rider at the 10th in the 2011 National off 159, and he must have a decent chance of finishing in the money at Aintree. We must also remember that he was only beaten 3 1/4 lengths by Bobs Worth in the 2012 Hennessy when giving him 6lb (ran from a mark of 166) and he must be on anyone's National shortlist.
The first and second in the Welsh National Mountainous and Hawkes Point should both get into the Grand National off their respective ratings, certainly that is where Nicholls other runner will be heading, however the winner is probably reliant on heavy ground (11131) and the chances of that are slim at Aintree. Their conqueror at Chepstow on 7th December De La Bech runs at Cheltenham on New Years Day from a 4lb higher mark and the Hobbs runner looks capable of going well there having only had 4 chase starts to date and 10 under rules in total so he is open to improvement. He needs to win there if the stable have any pretensions of running him in the bigger handicaps.

The Ryanair Hurdle on Sunday started off a bit cat and mouse but the pacemaker Captain Cee Bee soon took it up and set a good pace. Things started to hot up as the main three approached the turn into the home straight and once in the straight there was some jostling for position in which Jezki and Tony McCoy got squashed out between Our Connor on his left and Hurricane Fly on his right and consequently Hurricane Fly achieved a slight advantage on the run to the line in getting a clear run. It's difficult to say if that made any difference to the result but Jezki would have certainly been a lot closer granted a clearer run.

Value At Risk did it well in the last bumper of the meeting although I don't think he needed to be at his best to do so. I know I've mentioned a few of these already but these races are where all the good horses start from so you need to get a grip on them as soon as possible. Value At Risk had beaten Windsor Park at levels by 1 1/2 lengths last time out at Fairyhouse and he was unable to give 7lb to Noble Endeavour here on Thursday when beaten 3 lengths.
Any comments or thoughts of anyone else would be appreciated on any racing that occurred over the Christmas period not just in relation to the above or previous posts but to anything racing related- lets share the knowledge with each other and move forward together !

Good luck !

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