Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Immortal Mullins !!

I don't know about you but I've been watching Immortal Egypt on BBC2 with Joann Fletcher for the last few weeks and it's been a great historical series full of insight as to what it was like to live in those ancient times and well worth a view on Catch up tv if you like that sort of programme.
We know that right through time people have always strived to be better than others whether it be the tombs of the ancient Egyptian kings, the gardens of the European palaces, the motor cars of the rich and famous today or just your own neighbours.
Likewise the stories in racing are dominated by who is going to be the best, who is going to be champion trainer or have the most winners at Cheltenham, Aintree or Punchestown.
This year the form of the Willie Mullins stable is so good that it's looking like being a "Walk Over".
In fact the bookies are now betting on whether Paul Nicholls will have any winners at all at Cheltenham - which seems a bit harsh - although it's been a tough season so far with so few of his horses running up to expectations.
For me I hope it's not all one way traffic at Cheltenham and the winners are spread right across the board and everyone has a share of the pie.

Looking ahead to this weekend we have a favourite race of mine in the Sky Bet Chase up at Doncaster. The going there is currently good to soft although I expect at the end of storm Jonas things could be a whole lot different and heavy could be on the agenda again !
The field at the 5 day stage has been reduced by 24 with significant non participants being Drop Out Joe, Sego Success and Tenor Nivernais. The latter is trained by Venetia Williams who also has Aachen and Renard in the lineup and she is getting her usual amount of success in these 3m+ chases this season. They are aged 11 and 12 but we have seen over the last few months that older age is a positive in these attritional conditions that we are having.
The chances are that Aachen, along with Buywise, will be joint top weight on a rating of 151c and we have seen in the last 3 running's of the race the top rated Medermit finish 6th off a mark of 154c, Unioniste finish 3rd off 153c and Calgary Bay win off 151c. Whoever is at the top of the handicap I can see the weights going up 6lb at least and that would put Renard, who finished 4th in the race last season off a mark of 141c. bang on 10-0 as he has dropped 14lb in the ratings to 127c. He ran a bit better last time out at Wincanton and he has always run well at this track in the past. I don't think he will win but he is the outsider of the field at 33/1 so place money could be on and I've already invested a few quid.
Of the others Alan Kings Ziga Boy strikes me as the likely winner having won easily at the track during Christmas week and although up 15lb for that he is still a 7yo on a mark of 132c and Tom Bellamy who claims 3lb is already down to ride. If the weights do go up he would be on about 10-2/10-4 which is a handy weight to have in this race for an improver. Doing Fine, Black Thunder, Le Mercurey, Coologue and Dolatulo should make it an intriguing contest.

Onto today - Paul Nicholls runners at the weekend didn't actually run that badly albeit he only had 1 winner from 9 runners as he had 3 good seconds in Le Prezien, Connetable and Virak, however he has none out today, Dan Skelton picked up a winner on Friday, Saturday and Monday so he remains in reasonable form and he just has the one out today.

Dan Skelton

Leicester - Heavy, soft in places on the hurdles track
3.00 Knochgraffon has run just four times, three times for this stable finishing 221. He's a 3 mile chaser in the making and he's well up there in the rankings at the stable it would seem. He has been beaten by two Philip Hobbs horses in Kayf Adventure and Perform whom both have a lot of ability and Knockgraffon then went on to win at this track in a Class 4 novices hurdle on good to soft over 2m 4f 110y. He idled a bit there and how he'll cope on this heavier going is an unknown as he didn't do too well on it in a bumper at Warwick last season. Although he may win at the likely short odds I'm not putting him up as a bet.

On the current heavy going crisis, which will probably only get worse as the years go on, - perhaps we should be re visiting all weather National Hunt racing. 
We have seen at Kempton and Musselburgh an all weather surface being mixed with the turf track without too much trouble on the flat so why can't we have a purpose built NH track like this with the jumps being positioned on turf sections to prevent any jumping injuries as happened with the last trials on a purely artificial surface. 
These turf sections could be covered/protected with little effort to prevent them being waterlogged/frozen etc and therefore ease the burden of constant abandonments on the racing calendar. 
Anyone with any thoughts on this subject, including any jockeys or trainers who may be reading the blog, then please comment below.

No bets today

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