Thursday, 19 February 2015

More Cheltenham Thoughts

Well I am continuing with my theme on what are considered to be the fringe races at the Festival and looking at the now curiously named Foxhunter Chase.

18 of the past 24 winners have been aged nine or below and this year we have the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th all going again. The only one of those still in the age range mentioned though is 5th home Harbour Court (Best Price 12/1)who is aged 9.

Ireland had the first 3 home last year and are going for their fifth straight win in the race.

Those aged under 9 of the other possible entries listed on the RP website are - Aerial 9 (BP12/1), Current Event 8 (BP8/1), Pacha Du Polder 8 (BP12/1), Seventh Sign 6 (BP20/1) and Two Rockers 8 (BP12/1). The last two are the only Irish contenders aged 9 or under and both are trained by Adrian Maguire and were previously with Alan King.

Two Rockers is a serious horse, he won the Grade 2 Prestige Novices Hurdle at Haydock over 3 miles in February 2013 when with Alan King and in doing so easily accounted for Ardkilly Witness and Shotgun Paddy who were 2nd and 3rd of the 5 runners. However he rather lost his way a bit after that and that eventually led to him switching to Adrian Maguire and the change of codes. He was bought by Anthony Bromley back in 2012 for Masterson Holdings(owners of Balder Success) at the Cheltenham May Sales after winning a Maiden Point in Ireland in the previous month. He has always been thought to be a top class 3m chaser in the making and soft/heavy ground are ideal conditions for him and if he were to run in the Foxhunter and get his ideal conditions he would take some beating.

Of course the age range doesn't mean that those aged 10 or above will not win its just less likely. Baby Run was 10 in 2010 and Earthmover was 13 in 2004.

Salsify 10 (BP10/1) the winner in 2012 and 2013 (didn't run last year) is back to try for a third win.

The times of the last 5 years are :
2014 - Tammy's Hill - 6m 50.50s
2013 - Salsify - 7m 15.50s
2012 - Salsify - 6m 44.40s
2011 - Zemsky - 6m.37.20s
2010 - Baby Run - 6m.56s

The Raymond Smith Memorial Hunter Chase is considered the best Irish Trial. Salsify won it in the 2 years he won the Foxhunter and Tammy's Hill won it last year from On The Fringe. This year On The Fringe was second again to Prince De Beauchene and Salsify was 4th returning from his long absence. Prince De Beauchene doesn't qualify for the Foxhunter.

On The Fringe third in last seasons Foxhunter 3rd is best priced 6/1 to get the win this time, however Carsonstown Boy(aged 11) 2nd last year is best priced 33/1 with Coral. You may remember Carsonstown Boy leading from the off and being at the head of affairs throughout before finally being worn down by the winner. I would imagine he will be have been prepared with the race specifically in mind following his good show last season and he has his final run this weekend at Fairyhouse in preparation - a race in which Two Rockers may also be competing.

Another I like the look of is Paint The Clouds (BP 6/1), he doesn't fit any of the above trends but he was won all four Hunter Chases he has contested in good fashion since switching codes. His trainer Warren Greatrex said back in November that the Foxhunter was his main aim and that he thought he had a serious chance. He ran and won again this week and his trainer had this to say following "He is a real star and I have so much affection for him.  He jumped really well apart from 3 out and was given a race of it by Quinz going to the last before pulling away to win by 10 lengths.  It was a really pleasing performance as he had to give 15lbs to the second who was a fit horse.  I left him a little short fitness wise as I was keen that the race would improve him.   Sam was really pleased and said he was a little ‘gassy’ early on, which can be expected as it was his first run and he was happy to be back. Yesterday’s race will put him spot o for Cheltenham in just over 3 weeks’ time and let’s hope he can show what he is made of there.  He is now unbeaten in 6 starts over fences".
His connections however may have to find a different jockey as Sam Waley Cohen is likely to ride Warne if he lines up.

The current shortlist
Carsonstown Boy
Paint The Clouds
Two Rockers
Seventh Sign
On The Fringe


Willie Mullins in an interview for Attheraces has said the following re his bumper horses :
 "Bumper horses: I see Au Quart De Tour is the favourite but he’s a little bit sick at the moment. To me Bordini has it all, but we’ll run as many as we can get in. Au Quart De Tour has been very good, Balko Des Flos has been good, Stone Hard has been very good. Pylonthepressure is the one who has taken us by surprise. I was going to run Up For Review at Naas and Pylonthepressure at Leopardstown but Pylonthepressure did an amazing piece of work and I switched them. To me Bordini has put in the easiest performance but that performance of Pylonthepressure at Naas was extraordinary – he ran away from a decent field.

Putting that with the interview from Patrick Mullins it looks as though the Mullins Bumper team will consist of Bordini, Balko Des Flos, Stone Hard, Pylonthepressure, Up For Review and maybe Au Quart De Tour and if you backed anything else you may have done your money. Of course those selected may be cut again depending on which horses actually get into the race.













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