#startracking Wednesday December 30th 12noon

Another busy, wet, windswept day in prospect! So we had better start with some weather and going reports.

Today – Haydock Park Races ‏@HAYDOCKRACES · 6.30am

Following an inspection of the track this morning, we’re happy to confirm Racing is ON! Going is Heavy

Today – Taunton Racecourse 30th December-Soft, Heavy in Places

Divided bends. Chase bend at innermost so distances as advertised. Hurdle bends out of home straight moved out by 9yds and out of back straight by 6yds. Races 1,3,5 and 7 adds 63yds. Race 2 adds 90yds.

10mm of rain last Weds. and a further 10mm up to yesterday. 5mm overnight and forecast for a wet and windy day.

Thursday – Racing Post ‏@RacingPost 7.30am Warwick’s meeting is subject to a morning inspection at 8am

Friday – CheltenhamRacecourse ‏@CheltenhamRaces · 9.30am Weds.

The going is currently SOFT, GOOD TO SOFT IN PLACES. Rain forecast for today, dry Thursday and Friday.

Saturday – Ayr Racecourse ‏@ayrracecourse · 10.15am Weds.

Going: HEAVY @ayrracecourse for Sat 2nd Jan @32RedSport raceday,after 21mm. Rain now stopped and looks promising forecast through to racing.

 

We’ll kick off this morning with the last weeks review and I feel the only way to attack it is a la Lydia Hislop.

#startracking Christmas Review Sat.19th Dec.-Tues. 29th Dec.

Gold Cup I covered the King George and the Lexus in the Ante Post piece yesterday. I still feel Vautour wins the Gold Cup but I will add a couple of extra comments.

I agree with many people that Vautour would win the RyanAir and possibly the Champion Chase but he COULD win the Gold Cup and that’s where I think he will go. Interesting that Kevin Blake suggests he wasn’t suited by the longer trip as the slower pace affected his normal fluent jumping but that Julian Muscat in today’s Racing Post echoed much of what I said.

IF Vautour doesn’t stay and goes for the RyanAir I would expect every chaser rated over 150 with winning form over 3m+ at Cheltenham to line up in the Gold Cup. So if I owned Many Clouds, Sausalito Sunrise, The Druids Nephew etc. I would use the Gold Cup as a prep race to nothing en route to what could be the classiest Grand National ever! I could add Don Poli to that group! Djakadam and O’Faolains Boy are due to meet in the Cotswold Chase at Cheltenham over 3m 2f on January 30th and that could produce a clearer picture.

Finally I must have my tuppence on the “whip” situation. When watching the King George live I never thought “whip issue” but surely if the current rules are there to protect “public image” then breaking the rules must mean disqualification of the horse, jockey et al. There is a parallel in Flat racing where winning at all costs is acceptable, even dangerous. Too many times I mutter to myself “result stands, jockey gets two days”.

Champion Hurdle Recently I wrote that they might as well cancel the race this year and just ask Willie Mullins to hold the contest at home and pass the result on for the history books! It is Faugheen’s race to lose.

Champion Chase Sprinter Sacre edges Sire de Grugy at Kempton and Un de Sceaux falls on seasonal debut. Vibrato Valtat was too close to those feuding past champions for my liking and I will remain of the opinion that if Un de Sceaux stands up, he wins.

RyanAir Chase So Vautour is now 6/4 favourite. Alan King is a trainer who is swimming against the tide when he said that “he would rather win the RyanAir than finish fourth or fifth in the Gold Cup”, re Smad Place. This is definitely a Festival race I will sort out on the day when I know what is going to post.

Novice Chasers The two mile division is simple. Douvan. Ar Mad and Vaniteux running for places only. The stayers are starting to show their hand. No More Heroes is a Grade 1 horse and the Mullins pair Killultagh Vic and Roi des Francs will probably make the Cheltenham team. Is it Ireland or is it Mullins but with his chasers you need to add half mile onto the distance they won at to find their Cheltenham target and with the hurdlers you need to take two furlongs off? In England it seems to be the fashion to win nicely then give half a dozen reasons why you are not going to Cheltenham! So Tea for Two gallops home in the Kauto Star but wants “a flat, right handed track” beating Southfield Royale who is “aimed at Aintree”. Perhaps the third Native River could have a say in the 4m NH chase! Ar Mad gets back up to beat Vaniteux but Gary Moore has said “he got beaten at Plumpton and that’s all you need to know about going left handed!”

Novice Hurdlers A good friend has just pointed out to me that Min is as low as 11/4 to win the Festival opener, the Supreme Hurdle. Did I miss his second outing? No!! Mullins will go at least three handed and Nicky Henderson seems to be being dragged out of the doldrums by his novice hurdlers, Sprinter aside. Altior looks tasty and is still improving and the likes of Buveur D’Air, OO Seven and Premier Bond will give him something to look forward too. The best novice hurdle over Christmas was run in Ireland at Leopardstown over 2m and the Paddy Power Future Champions was won by Long Dog for Mullins/Riici/Walsh whilst Tombstone and Petit Mouchoir remain in the Championship picture. The likes of Bleu et Rouge, Bachasson and Falcon Crest could play a part in the Spring Festival handicaps. I can’t work out Long Dog. He has been on the go since Galway in July and that is his sixth hurdle win on the bounce including two Grade 1’s on ground from Good to Heavy! His handicap mark is just 5lbs higher than his second win at OR147. The stats boys will weep if he wins at Cheltenham!!

Juvenile Hurdlers I don’t normally look at this division until the Adonis has been run at Kempton but it’s been bubbling up nicely over Christmas with the Coolmore boys having a go in the JP green and gold hoops. Their Outspoken would have beaten Allbak des Places (Mullins) if he had been neater at the last and those two looked useful. Ivanovich Gorbatov, rated OR97 on the flat, in the same colours beat the much touted Mullins filly, Let’s Dance, so there’s four 3yo’s worth considering! In Britain it seems Alan King has a strong hand of juveniles with Gibralfaro the latest to impress.

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