So busy with those pesky Cheltenham handicaps didn’t get to blog last night and we have two #startracking runners today, both for an out-of-form Harry Fry and neither too popular in the market!
Taunton 3.15 A PLIEN TEMPS Put in at 15/8, has drifted overnight to 9/4, not a positive sign! Just the thirteen runners for young Mr Fry in the last fortnight and only one winner. This winning Irish pointer makes his handicap mark in a first time tongue tie off a lowly mark of OR108. My notes say “Definite work in progress as a 3m chaser and still some growing up to do”, so just a one star* win selection @ 9/4 general. Better ground, Noel Fehily, tongue-tie and the lowly grade justify an interest.
Taunton 3.50 NITROGEN After a solid third to Spookydooky in a strong race at Newbury on chasing debut I had high hopes for this very lightly raced 9yo. The fact that we haven’t seen him for 98 days I hope is a ground and not a health issue. The market suggests he’s a friendless 11/4 shot. With just five runners I think that price is OK and make him a one star* win selection.
Talking of those Cheltenham handicaps some of the leading irish hurdle hopes have been hammered by the British handicapper, Phil Smith. A fact that hasn’t gone unnoticed on social media! “If we learned nothing else from the handicap weights, it’s that Phil Smith hates Gordon Elliott.” Tony Keenan @RacingTrends
Mind you some of the English took a hit as well, “I thought Missed Approach was bloody good at Newbury, but 20 (twenty) lb rise in weights about as punishing as it gets” Daniel Barber @DanBarberTF
Today it’s the Twister who has his say!!
Nigel Twiston-Davies: Stable Tour By: Ian Ogg March 2 2016, 14:04 GMT
Nigel Twiston-Davies with an exclusive horse-by-horse guide to his Cheltenham Festival team.
The New One He schooled this morning, he was fabulous – really exciting. The Champion Hurdle is obviously easier than we first thought and I think he’s value at the sort of price he is. Where the problem was last year was that he had bad feet so that involved him swimming a lot – the whole time – and this time last year his whole time was in the pool and that affected his back but now he’s not swimming he’s 100 per cent. The foot problem came back before Christmas so we had a very rushed preparation to get him ready for the Christmas Hurdle and he ran well there and since then he’s been absolutely fine. I’m looking forward to the big day.
Algernon Pazham He’s most likely to go for the Ultima Handicap Chase on the first day. He ran a good race on his reappearance and then went to Aintree for the Becher but things didn’t go right for him that day really. Then he got stuck in the mud at Warwick and again at Haydock. But he’s a nice horse and will come on a lot from the run in the Peter Marsh and the better ground will suit him.
Astracad He’s been a regular in the Grand Annual Chase. He’s run in the race three times now and will probably be back for another go. He’s also entered in the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate and the Kim Muir but it doesn’t look as though he’ll get in those two but he should get in the Grand Annual and he’s back to a decent mark.
Ballyandy He’s won two Listed races already and he goes into a Grade One now off level weights. The thing about bumpers is that there is no collateral form of any sort; you turn up and the best horse on the day will win. A lot of good Irish horses have come over to beat him and haven’t. Gordon Elliott brought one [De Plotting Shed] over to Ascot and Willie Mullins brought one [Bleu Berry] over to Newbury and he beat them by miles. That just shows how difficult it is to work out the form of bumpers but he’s done nothing wrong and is obviously a very nice horse.
Ballykan He ran really well at Kempton last weekend when fourth behind Theatre Guide. He’d had a long time off prior to that and will come on for that run and we’re looking at the four mile and nearly every other race for him!
Bally Beaufort He was slightly disappointing last time at Ascot when fifth behind Sausalito Sunrise in a Listed handicap over three miles but he looked like the winner at Swinley Bottom, he was going best but didn’t quite get home that day. We’ve found little things wrong with him and hopefully he’ll be a lot better next time. He’s got an entry in the National Hunt Chase.
Bristol De Mai He’s done absolutely nothing wrong at all, he really hasn’t. Two and a half miles has been a revelation for him and his jumping is as good as you’ll find so he’s very exciting. We were absolutely gutted after the Scilly Isles at Sandown, we thought it was a disaster because we got beaten but Ar Mad has turned out to be a really, really good horse. The reason he looks good on heavy ground over two miles is that it makes it more of a stamina test but now over two and a half miles the stamina test is the distance rather than the ground.
Blaklion The form of the Towton at Wetherby is good and the horse that beat him at Cheltenham in the Dipper on New Year’s Day, Seeyouatmidnight, has been touted around but that was over two and a half miles which was much too short for our horse and we were giving him 3lb. We were only beaten three lengths so that was a hell of a good run. He’s only got an entry in the RSA Chase; the proof of the pudding is in the eating and we’ll go there and take No More Heroes on.
Double Ross He’s been a great servant to the yard and he’s going back to Cheltenham, his favourite track where he’s run nine times and won three of them and been placed three times as well. He’s back on a competitive mark that he’s run well from in the past; he’s entered in the Ultima Handicap Chase and hopefully he’ll run well again.
El Terremoto He is an interesting one. If you look up the French form, you’ll know as much about him as I do. He’s been rated 127 in France and we think he’ll get into the Fred Winter this year although 127 wouldn’t have got into the race most years. He works beautifully and schools superbly; he’s an exciting sort of horse for us. We’ll just have to see but he’s a nice long price and he could be an interesting one; obviously he’ll have to improve but let’s hope it’s at Cheltenham.
Flying Angel He was a very good third in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last time, there is a thought that he could go for the Imperial Cup at Sandown. He’s probably a bit low to get into the County Hurdle at Cheltenham at the moment but if he were to win the Imperial Cup and pick up a penalty then he would get a run and have a tilt at the bonus. If not, we could run in one of the longer races or even the Sky Bet Supreme or the Neptune if they cut up. Early days but he’s a very good horse and he’s improving.
Little Jon He’s going for the Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury on Saturday but he does have an entry for the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate and may turn up but we’ll have to see what happens.
Minella Reception Will he get in [to the Brown Advisory & Merriebelle Stable Plate]? Probably not but he was superb at Warwick the other day; we like him an awful lot. Let’s hope he gets in and if he does, he’ll run well. He’s been very fragile but he’s come out of Warwick 100 per cent.
Splash Of Ginge The Crabbie’s Grand National is really his target as you know and he qualified for Aintree when finishing third in the Denman Chase at Newbury last time behind Houblon Des Obeaux. He’s come down 8lb in the weights this year and is 4lb lower than when winning at Cheltenham on New Year’s Day last season. He could go for the Kim Muir and hopefully he’ll run well.