Monday 7th 12.30pm
An eye boggling amount of quality racing over the last four days so how do you start to make head nor tail of it?
Once again you have to begin with the Cheltenham Gold Cup and that man Mullins.
Don Poli is only a 6yo and has won on both visits to the Cheltenham Festival (Martin Pipe Hurdle 2014, RSA Chase 2015) and on Saturday he beat Many Clouds (Hennessy and Grand National winner), Menorah (Charlie Hall, Supreme Hurdle and Betfair Chase 2nd) and Southfield Theatre (2nd in the RSA) without turning a hair. Many Clouds ran a great race and is firmly on course for the 2016 Grand National. The other two may struggle to find a race this season.
On Sunday Djakadam comes out and runs all over a quality field in the John Durkan over a trip I thought at least half a mile too short!! Valseur Lido (Mullins again) was a credible second under Bryan Cooper, a young man I will be writing more about in a following blog (probably not for his mum’s eyes!).
So I posed two hypothetical questions on Twitter this morning. “If Vautour and Djakadam both make it to the Gold Cup who does Ruby Walsh ride?” and “If Road to Riches, Don Cossack, Don Poli and Sir des Champs all get to the Gold Cup who does Brian Cooper ride? If he gets a choice!” Michael Looby an Irish member of the twitterati replied “Cooper Don Poli, Carberry Road To Riches, Russell Don Cossack, Ruby and Townend on Vautour and Djakadam so a spare on SDC left”. All food for thought. I will stick with my opinion that Vautour is the second coming until the King George or proved otherwise or Douvan steals his mantle!
On Sunday Saint Willie revealed another world beater in Pont Alexandre after 998 days off the course and Yorkhill is going to be a player in either the Neptune or the Alfred Bartlett come March, probably the former.
Also on Sunday we had a crazy Peterborough Chase with Wishfull Thinking sprinting off, Camping Ground stumbling off, Petite Rose dropping off and Al Ferof doesn’t turn a hair as Ptit Zig crashes out at the last! Guess what? Al Ferof’s owner wants to go for the King George and the Gold Cup!!
On Saturday, apart from Don Poli, it was all about those Aintree fences. Great spectacle but not my favourite betting opportunities. Previous experience is crucial. Dolatulo ran well but does he get 4 miles? The Becher winner, Highland Lodge, on old Lavelle form would have a squeak in the National itself if he can get in. The Sefton, despite being shorter than the Becher, was attritional. Top Cat Henry was eye-catching. In the van throughout, jumped like a stag, 2nd over the last, walked home from the elbow!! Is there a 2m chase over the National fences? Not sure he will get in the Topham in April off 134 but he is only a 7yo and one of these shorter races could fall his way under the guidance of Dr. Newland.
The interesting horses started on Thursday at Wincanton with Lifeboat Mona (Nicholls) hosing up in a mares maiden hurdle but where next? 33/1 WH for new Mares novice hurdle at Cheltenham. Presenting Arms won a handicap hurdle at odds on for that nice young Mr Fry and here’s what he wrote on his website afterwards. “Presenting Arms won for the second time over hurdles inside a fortnight at Wincanton on Thursday on ground that was more testing than ideal for him. I would not normally have considered running him so quickly after Kempton, particularly on heavy going, but my hand was rather forced when the handicapper put him up 10 lbs for that success.
For Presenting Arms to win twice more over hurdles is a bonus at this stage of his career as I was really thinking of sending him chasing this season. That may well happen in the spring but for the moment we will see if we can find another handicap hurdle for him. I have given him an entry in the Ladbroke at Ascot before Christmas, though it is important to stress that Presenting Arms is at his best on top of the ground which is difficult to find at this time of year.” Could be interesting come Festival time? Will go up from current 137. How about Liam McKenna or Michael Legg on board in the Martin Pipe Conditionals hurdle?
Hobbs had a couple of winners to keep an eye on. Rolling Dylan won his bumper and Duke des Champs, a chaser in the making, ground out victory over the JP owned Matorico who could be a player in a C2/3, 2m 4/5F handicap hurdle at a Festival, Aintree perhaps.
At Leicester Blandford Gunner landed some tidy bets and could be one to keep onside in handicaps. Add to that list recent winners Aloomoo, Mixbay, Top Billing, Virgilio, Courtown Oscar and the tenacious Bally Beaufort who could all be ahead of the handicapper. Dan Skelton’s Captain Chaos and his conqueror, Alan King’s Label des Obeaux plus the Philip Hobbs pair, Vieux Lille and Chepstow winner Tapaculo, all look novice hurdlers going places and will win again at this grade or above, although Tapaculo’s trainer has suggested he may well go the handicap route.
Three bumper winners of note. La Bague de Roi was mightily impressive in the Listed bumper at Huntingdon and its Aintree next for this big girl. At a lesser level Malcolm Jefferson’s filly, McGregors Cottage, was all the rage at Sedgefield and she duly obliged. Jonjo O’Neills Lithic won the Junior Bumper at Southwell in the style of a useful horse.
Please feel free to cut and paste any of my stuff and put in your notes with any of these horses you may choose to put in YOUR tracker.