Friday, 18 December 2015

Fancy a Long Walk?



Saturday looks set to be a great days racing at Ascot, Haydock and Newcastle. There are early starts at the latter two with Newcastle staging their first race at 11.45am - "wakey wakey" !!

Paul Nicholls and Dan Skelton both have a number of runners and as we know Nicholls continues in indifferent form with one winner yesterday coming more by good fortune.

Dan Skelton meanwhile is consistently firing in the odd winner or two and he sends a strong team up to Haydock. Harry Skelton takes the first 3 rides there before boarding a helicopter/plane down to Ascot to partner Zarib in the Ladbroke Hurdle.

Paul Nicholls
Ascot
12.40 - Varom hadn't run for 663 days prior to running at Warwick on 18/11 where he wore a first time tongue tie. He was disappointing there finishing 10th of 15 having been well backed(11/4 into 6/4). He sustained an injury last season but that could have been a blessing in disguise as he was continuing to develop.  He is on an official handicap mark of 110h which is a very workable mark having finished 2nd at Wincanton on his second start on 03/12 in a Class 4 NH novices handicap hurdle over two miles five and a half furlongs on soft. On that occasion he was held up and stayed on to snatch second place in the dying strides. He steps up a bit further in distance today at 2m 7f and 118 yards in a Class 4 novices handicap hurdle and it is hoped he can stay on that bit more.

1.50 - Mon Succeseur was previously trained by Guillame Macaire in France and won his only two starts over fences before joining Paul Nicholls. He is a 4yo half brother to Easter Day and finished 2nd on his return in a novices limited handicap chase, over a Wetherby 2m, despite being in receipt of a 4yo weight allowance, however he was said to have needed the run that day and wasn't used to British fences as well as hanging a bit right.
He was given a spin over hurdles at Cheltenham as the stable thought it would open more options but he looked as though he would appreciate a bit further and finished 10/20 beaten 18 lengths. He then went to Newbury for a conditional jockeys handicap chase over two miles two and a half furlongs on soft and finished 2nd beaten three quarters of a length to Rouge Et Blanc.
His 4th start was at Exeter on 04/12 in a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m 3f on heavy going where although he was well in with the winner Otago Trail he was beaten into 2nd by half a length, the winner getting up late on.
It doesn't look any easier here and although he may run well you can see one just being too good again.

2.25 - Saphir Du Rheu - I will leave this race alone and just savour the moment.

3.00 - Virak is a lover of soft ground with all 8 of his wins coming with the words soft or heavy in the going description. His trainer thinks that he is too high in the handicap and he is probably right as he is now 14lb than his last win. That said he put in a good run in 2nd behind the improving Wakanda last time out at Newcastle in the Class 1 Rehearsal Chase beaten half a length with 7 lengths back to the third. Harry Cobden retains the ride and takes 7lb off the top weight.

3.00 - Unioniste ran in the National last spring and fell at the fifth. Prior to that he won a Class 2 handicap Chase at Sandown over 3m on soft off a rating of 148c. He then gave 5lb to Coneygree when beaten at Newbury in the Betfair Denman Chase. He starts this season on 158c and has been dropped to 155c following his run at Aintree in the Becher Chase where he finished 8th of 17. He is said to need a strong stamina test and his campaign will be geared once more to the big one in April. 
The tongue strap is off and the cheek pieces are back on and Nick Schofield retains the ride and he is dropping in the weights so should give a good account.

3.00 - Salubrious was a Grade 1 performer over hurdles and won the Martin Pipe at the festival in 2013 off a mark of 141h. That said Nicholls wasn't overly impressed with his initial handicap rating of 153c following his Fontwell win on his sole chase start prior to injury last season and that has now been reduced to 148c. He was said to be in good form prior to his first run for 402 days at Carlisle in a Class 2 Graduation chase over three miles and a half furlong on heavy which he won by a neck after leading on the bit at the last fence. He comes here with a great chance and Sam Twiston Davies retains the ride.

3.35 - Some Plan wore a hood and a tongue strap for the first time on his first start for Nicholls in a Class 1 Listed Hurdle over 2m on soft where he was 5th of 10 to Lil Rockerfeller when aftre going well he hit the second last and then found nothing. He is a big chasing type who won 2 from 4 last season for Tom George before finishing 10th of 12 in the Supreme novices hurdle at the festival. 
He should have improved for that run and Sam Twiston Davies retains the ride and both forms of head gear are on again. He's been dropped 2lb to 140h but given the stables current run of form you couldnt be confident about his chances in this very competitive handicap hurdle.

3.35 - Vicenzo Mio returned on the 8th of November having not run for 21 months after sustaining a leg injury. He is a big weighty horse who will have improved again for his second run when finishing 3rd behind Lil Rockerfeller last time out when Some Plan was 5th. Harry Cobden's 7lb claim will make things easier and he is an improving horse who could be in the shake up.

Dan Skelton
Ascot
3.35 - Zarib was bought out of Mick Halford's yard and has run just the 5 times over hurdles to date so remains open to improvement. He led over the last in last seasons Fred Winter at Cheltenham before finishing 6th. He is said to travel and jump well and is regarded as one to follow. He returned at Wincanton in the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle over 2m on soft where he finished a good 3rd to Irving and he has a good chance of being in the money tomorrow in what is a very competitive handicap hurdle.

3.35 - Hurricane Hollow ran well at Chepstow when 3rd of 17 in the Grade 3 Totepool Silver Trophy handicap hurdle over two miles three and a half furlongs on good. He was upsides at the last but hit the same and was unable to give any extra in the last 100 yards. He has gone up 3lbs for that but Rock The Kasbah who finished 2nd won off a 5lb higher mark at Haydock in a Class 2 and he has been put up another 8lb to 144h and overall the form of that race has worked out very well. Hurricane Hollow is ridden here under Bridget Andrews who will claim a valuable 5lbs and cheek pieces are on for the first time and it looks as though this has been the plan since Chepstow and a big run is expected on going which should suit over this trip.

Haydock
11.55 - Baratineur was a dual bumper winner in France on soft and heavy going. He is said to have a shown a lot of speed and ability at home. Returned at Huntingdon in a Class 5 maiden hurdle over 2m on good going finishing 4th behind Great Hall. He then finished 2nd in the fixed brush hurdle at Haydock over 2m 3f on soft where he was beaten 9 lengths. He is back down in trip here and the going should be perfect with the stable expecting a big run with no excuses.

There are 4 others running at the meeting as listed below but due to time constraints I am unable to cover those races - however they all seem to go there in good form :

12.25 - Pain Au Chocolat

12.55 - Yes I Did

2.05 - Istimraar

2.40 - Wilton Milan

Bets

Hurricane Hollow - 0.50 points ew @ 16/1 - take care some bookmakers offer 5 places and others just 4.
Baratineur - 1 point win @ 7/2 with several bookmakers

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