Posted Tuesday 22nd December 11am
GOING FOR GOLD
Sunday December 27th Chepstow 2.35 Welsh National 3m 6f
The going is currently Heavy (Soft in places) and looking at the forecasts I can’t see it changing too much. So we will need a horse proven in the ground, whose middle name is stamina, has possibly run at the course before and from a yard in form.
I’ve always believed two factors will get you through heavy ground. The first is a natural ability to run on it and the second is class. So the first horse to be considered has to be the classiest one and that is O Faolains Boy. Here’s what the Racing Post reported, “The Gold Cup is certainly in the thoughts of Curtis, although a quick return to action over Christmas is not being ruled out either. “He’s back to his best, hopefully,” said Curtis. “He should come on again for that considering it was his first run back – you can forget Ascot. After the RSA we hoped he’d be a Gold Cup horse so we can go down that route, although I think he’s on a nice mark for the Welsh National. If he happened to be very fresh next week we’d think about that, then there’s the Denman [Chase] back here and he’ll definitely get a National entry – his jumping was very good.” He could run and jump these silly or he could bounce. I think this tough race is too soon and I think the Classic at Warwick or the Denman at Newbury would be a better fit.
Top British trainer of staying chasers is Paul Nicholls although they are just not firing this season. He has two entries, top weight Black Thunder who was running well behind Sausalito Sunrise at Cheltenham when an error two out put paid to his chances and he broke a blood vessel the race before? The other is Benvolio. Off the same mark he was beaten just a short head in this race last year by Emperors Choice when first time blinkers were key, they haven’t had the same effect since. His conqueror that day is 10lb higher and was impressive winning at Haydock on his only start this season and has plenty going for him.
My selection also ran in this race last year and carries 4lb less this time around. Shotgun Paddy ticks a lot of boxes. I backed him in this race last year when he somehow gave them all a start, then clouted the 2nd fence and was never involved (“after the nightmare at Chepstow with him missing the break and then galloping into the second fence” Emma Lavelle) and he carried my money in the 2014 4m NH chase when he was 2nd to Midnight Prayer, another who has to be a player. For Shotgun Paddy the ground, the trip, the trainer, his official rating are all plusses. He’s a clumsy horse but IF he puts in a clear round he must go close.
Ante Post- Shotgun Paddy one star* @ 10/1 (general)
I have every intention of going in again on Shotgun Paddy Sunday morning looking for five places with one star*e/w at top odds.
Sunday December 27th Leopardstown 2.55 Paddy Power Chase 3m
Two types of runners here. Firstly, those who have done it before, got the T-shirt and the weight to go with it. These include Gilgamboa, First Lieutenant, Grand Jesture, Living Next Door etc. I would prefer to look at the second group and that is the improvers. Those that have got a racing weight and the possibility they have 10lbs in hand. I am going to put up two who I think could find that improvement but for two very different reasons.
Sizing Gold is an 8yo but with very little mileage on the clock as he was off the course for nineteen months and he showed enough on his recent return when third to Sumos Nuvios and Empire of Dirt at Punchestown. He had classy Graded form before his injury and if the astute Henry de Bromhead can conjure up improvement for the run and the extra two furlongs, off 135 he could be thrown in.
The second selection is Minella Foru trained by Eddie Harty for JP McManus who will no doubt be mob handed but there does seem to have been market interest in this one. The improvement will supposedly come from the 4f step up in trip and does have the profile of a bit of a plot. Currently off 138 he should get a racing weight come Sunday.
Both of these horses have been four points shorter with Paddy Power than the rest of the bookies for the past week and now the market has evened out to PP’s position. I’m taking the hint!
Ante Post- Sizing Gold one star* @ 10/1 (general) Minella Foru one star* @12/1 (general)
I have every intention of going in again on Sizing Gold Sunday morning looking for five places with one star*e/w at top odds.