I am still suffering from the virus so please make allowances if there are more than the usual numbers of spelling mistakes.
There are lots of meetings over the weekend with quite a few runners from our list to follow in action.
I will start at Ayr where Monet’s Garden should get us off to a winning start in the 2.20. He has looked most impressive over fences so far with the only defeat being in the Arkle where Voy Por Ustedes just got the better of him. The extra distance here will be in his favour and I hope he wins. His price is likely to make him unbackable however.
We have 3 runners in the Scottish Champion Hurdle at 2.50. Faasel just lost out in a close finish behind Penzance in last years Triumph Hurdle but neither have had much joy this term. He prefers a sound surface and as I write these notes he seems unlikely to get it. Royal Shakepeare is locked in a close battle with Monkerhostin for the BHB Order of Merit title. I think he needs to finish in the first 7 to retake the lead if I have got my maths right. He is another that would want good ground. United may turn out to be our best bet as she will not mind the ground. She won a Grade 1 novice at Punchestown a year ago but has only run twice since because of injury. She was pulled up at Auteil 20 days ago which is a bit of a concern.
The Scottish National (3.30) is a favourite race of mine and there are plenty of old friends in this year’s line up. There are 7 from the list to follow so I will start with them. King Killone is the outsider of the 7. He is a novice and has won twice this season both at Newcastle over 3 miles. On the second of these he was the only finisher. There was much to like about his last run when he was staying on in 3rd behind Kerry Lads over 3 miles 1 at Wetherby. He jumps well and handles soft ground but is 6 lbs out of the handicap. Could run well at a price.
Nil Desperandum is having his last run for trainer Frances Crowley as next season he will be trained in England. He improved on his 6th in last years Aintree National with an excellent 4th this time. I have always thought that this horse has ability but he does seem to be a bit of a tricky customer. He obviously stays but it is possible that the Aintree fences keep him interested. I am just not sure if he will repeat the Aintree form here.
All in the Stars looks likely to start favourite. He has won twice this season, including a 3.5 miler at Fontwell. He has been most impressive in defeat however. He was 5th in the Hennessey and 2nd to Royal Auclair at Cheltenham in December. He has risen in the weights during the year but might be still improving and this trip should play to his strengths. The rider is also worth his 5 lbs claim. Juveigneur fell at the first in the Aintree National so comes here fresh enough as long as that has not dented his confidence. Prior to the Aintree mishap he had been a good second at Cheltenham and last season was runner up in the Betfred Gold Cup. Comes good at this time of year and not out of it. Idle Talk could be the type for this. He has only had 8 career starts and has won 4 of them. He jumps, stays and likes give in the ground. His front running display at Cheltenham when 2nd to the talented Star de Mohaison puts him in the frame for this. Halcon Genelardais has won his last 3 starts, jumps well and goes in the soft. He just seems to have a lot of weight for a 6 year old.
Take the Stand has the highest weight of the 7. He has the class as demonstrated by his efforts in two Gold Cups. He does tend to make the odd serious blunder though, and that combined with the weight and the unlikelihood of him getting his favoured good ground just puts me off him.
So what has got the best chance of the 7? I would say All in the Stars and Idle Talk.
What of the rest? You have to consider the big two, Nicholls and Pipe. Paul Nicholls saddles 3 and you have to respect Ruby Walsh’s choice. He has gone for Ladalko, described by his trainer as “a bit thick.” He has the ability though but is another that can be let down by sloppy jumping. Royal Auclair is another Nicholls runner. He was a first fence faller at Aintree but nornmally jumps well and is consistent. Timmy Murphy has chosen to ride Korelo for M Pipe. You could fancy Korelo off 10 stone. He was a close 3rd in the Eider Chase at Newcastle over this distance. He is probably not a natural jumper of fences but has a devastating turn of foot if still in contention at the business end.
The Bajan Bandit is useful on his day and has won 7 times at Ayr. His last win was when slamming Royal Emperor here by 14 lengths in the soft over 3 miles 1F. Kerry Lads is eleven now but has been in fine form, winning twice since Christmas. He has been 4th, 2nd and 5th in his previous attempts in this race. I like Kerry Lads but I suppose if he was going to win this he would have done it by now. I will stick with All in the Stars and Idle Talk. Good race though – don’t miss it! Monte Cinto would be interesting in the 4.05 if he turns out as he is due to run on Friday as well. Good to soft suits him. Our other runner in this is River Alder. He has done his job this season regardless as he won at 20/1 last time out. Upper in class here but lightly raced and can go well. Best on a sound surface probably.
We have a couple of listers in the 4.35. Caracciola ran quite well when 8th in the Grand Annual at Cheltenham and is weighted to be in the shake up here. Roman Ark won here in January over 2 and a half and this drop back in trip might not be in his favour. Soft ground will not be a problem.
McKelvey (5.05) looked in for a profitable season when winning at Wetherby in November but has really lost his way since. Can’t be fancied on current form but you could try the argument that Barry Geraghty is an eyecatching jockey booking.
I don’t have time to look at the complete card at Naas but I see that one of our list horses, Majestic Times, runs in the listed race at 4.30. He is one of those horses who is always going to be high in the handicap and may not be quite good enough I better class events. He has won in listed company however and I am hoping he can up a win or two this season.
We have 3 runners in a competitive looking Newbury Spring Cup at 2.40. Blythe Knight won the Lincoln at Redcar where he clearly relished the soft ground. He probably needs some juice in the ground as the only time he won on good to firm was in a 3 runner race. Not out of this as new trainer and gelding op may have improved him but I am not sure that Lincoln winners often win there next races. Coup D’Etat was 19th in the Lincoln where the ground would have been against him and should run better here. Kamanda Laugh was even further behind in the Lincoln but is another who is better than he showed that day. I will go with Coup D’Etat and Kamanda Laugh each way.
We have a couple of runners in the 4.20. Gandalf won an all weather maiden at Wolverhampton last July but has been a bit disappointing since. Trainer Kames Fanshawe had a winner with Conkering this week and with Jamie Spencer not one to rule out. Rather like Gandalf, Gifted Musician is a bit of a risky one for the list to follow. His only win came in a weak maiden at Catterick but he is well bred and lightly raced and hopefully can improve to be a bit better than his handicap mark.
The 6.45 at Nottingham looks an interesting maiden. Apart from Elite Racing Club runner Travolta there are 3 from our list to follow. Alasoun shaped with plenty of promise when 6th on his only start as a juvenile. Related to various winners and holding big race entries he looks likely to go close. Kyoto’s Summit was only beaten a neck in a Newmarket maiden last season and the 3rd and 4th have both won recently. One for the shortlist. Kerriemuir Lass was 8th in the same Newmarket maiden. Scope for improvement.
Over at Thirsk I will be watching the 4.15 with interest. I was going to include Eisteddfod on this year’s list to follow but given my previous record with Elite Club runners I thought I might put the mockers on him. He has a better than 50% strike rate and that speaks for itself. Should be suited by the ground I he gets my tip.
Borehan looks the likely winner of the 5.15 but the price will be too skinny.
Sunday The flat list to follow has got off to rather a stuttering start but I am hopeful that we will get a winner in the 2.40 at Kempton. Spectral Star is the sort of lightly raced older filly that her trainer usually does well with. Jamie Spencer rides. That is my only selection on Sunday. Good luck
Continue reading “Diary: April 22 & 23”