Tonight’s bulletin covers racing for both Saturday and Sunday.
It has been quite a good week for horses on our list to follow with I think 7 winners in all since last Saturday. As quite a few of the original horses listed have sustained long term injuries I have added a few new names to the list recently. You can see the additions in the Special Features section.
Although Chepstow has been called of tomorrow as a result of waterlogging there is still plenty to look forward to with two valuable staying handicap chases heading the bill on Saturday.
The Racing Post Chase (Kempton 3.10) has attracted a decent quality field of 15. In theory the bottom weight Lucifer Bleu is a good thing as he is about to be raised significantly by the handicapper (24 lbs in fact!) He has won his last two races in effortless fashion and has proven form in testing conditions. He also gets on well with his young jockey who takes 5 lbs off. David Pipe has his team in good form and the horse clearly has claims. I doubt if he will be value though so I will look elsewhere.
There are 3 runners from our list to follow and they are all in with a shout. Alderburn and Ballyvoddan are both trained by Henry Daly. Alderburn won over course and distance at Christmas. He is a sound jumper and goes well fresh. Although he has won in soft ground I feel he is best on genuine good ground. Billyvoddan was also a winner last time out when he fairly bolted up at Ascot, wearing blinkers for the first time. He has top weight of 11 stone 12 but this race has often been won by a horse carrying more than 11 stone so that would not necessarily put me off. Reveillez has not really got going this season after looking pretty decent last season, winning at the Cheltenham Festival. I rate all these horses but my fear is the going as all three seem to need good ground. Of the 3 Alderburn is the most likely to handle softer going.
Of the remainder Limerick Boy and Puntal are potentially interesting. Limerick Boy has a touch of class having once won a Group 3 in Germany on the flat. He handles soft ground OK but has sometimes been let down by his jumping. He likes Kempton though having won there twice from 3 attampts. Puntal is a bit of a monkey but can be a potent force when he is on a going day. His usual jockey Timmy Murphy has elected to ride Celtic Son however.
There is no doubt that Lucifer Bleu ought to win in theory and if you want to back him I wouldn’t want to put you off. Alderburn has slightly the best chance of our list runners while Limerick Boy’s course form is a plus point in his favour.
The other big race in the UK is the Eider Chase at Newcastle 3.30. There aren’t any runners from our current list to follow and to be honest I don’t have any particularly strong views. My 3 against the field would be Nil Desperandum, Teeming Rain and Silver Knight. Nil Desperandum has run well in the last two Grand Nationals so his stamina and jumping ability is not in question. He is by the same sire as the late great Best Mate and like many of his relations he is probably best on less testing ground. Silver Knight on the other hand likes the mud. He is the sort of dour galloper that seems to do well in this race. He has won 4 times at Wetherby and that is a course that takes a bit of jumping. Teeming Rain heads the Irish challenge. His win over 3.5 miles at Punchestown puts him in with a shout here. I am not convinced that heavy ground will suit Nil Desperandum so I will go for the other two as my first choices.
The 2.35 at Kempton is of particular interest to me as it features 4 from my list to follow. I am not sure that it makes it any easier to call though, especially as Paul Nicholls has elected to run two in this. Natal has won twice already this season and is the choice of Nicholl’s top jockey Ruby Walsh. Natal had not done too much wrong until finishing a disappointing 4th at Ascot in mid December. He won 5 of his 9 starts last season and his trainer has always held him in high regard. The grey Good Spirit is a bit of an unknown quantity. A winner 3 times in France he disappointed on his first run in the UK before scoring a facile victory recently at Stratford. He came to the UK with some smart hurdles from in France and much was expected of him. Sam Thomas has the ride.
Yes Sir racked up 7 straight wins in the summer but has found life more difficult in the winter season thus far. He has won on all sorts of ground so the soft winter going shouldn’t be the problem. A course like Kempton should suit his front running style but his lack of recent form would be a concern. Dunsfold Duke is a bit of a dark horse. His win last month in testing ground at Lingfield was impressive and he certainly jumped soundly. He could well be on the upgrade and as he comes from a smaller stable he could start at a working man’s price given that he is up against runners from the top yards. The underrated but very capable Leighton Aspell rides.
The other 3 runners all have claims in a very trappy little race. Natal is probably the obvious choice if back to his best, while Dunsfold Duke might well pull off a surprise at rewarding odds.
In the 3.45 I like the look of another Nicholls runner. Poquelin was decent on the flat in France and looked good when beating the useful Liberate over course and distance at Christmas.
Mort de Rire represents our list to follow in the 4.15. He is another ex French horse. He won at Leicester last season and has had two fairly uneventful runs this term so far. I think he is the type that could pop up at a nice price somewhere. At 16/1 he represents each way value as long as all 8 runners hold their ground.
The 4.45 looks a very open race. We have two list horses in Brankley Boy and Midas Way. Brankley Boy was pulled up on his only start this season but he won twice last season in testing ground. His half sister Lady Rebecca won the Cleeve Hurdle 3 times so he is bred for the job. With the stable in good form he is one for the short list. Midas Way has been running creditably without winning. Twice a winner on the flat he also won a novice hurdle last season at Newbury. He is gaining experience over timber and the booking of Richard Johnson looks interesting. A danger to our list runners could be the unexposed O’Maley, trained by Paul Nicholls. If forced to choose I would go for Midas Way.
There are a couple of list runners in the 4.35 at Newcastle. Blue Splash has done well for us winning twice and generally running consistently. Stamina is his strong suit and he has won in heavy ground. He is a brother to another horse on our list, Ungaru, who has 3 wins to his credit this season. Blue Splash has obvious claims. King of Confusion returned to the track last week after a lay off for a breathing operation but only got as far as the second fence where he unseated his pilot. I am not sure that really testing ground will suit him so Blue Splash would be my choice of the two.
Over in Ireland last season’s Aintree Grand National winner Numbersixvalverde has his first run over fences since his big win last April. He goes in the 3.15 at Fairyhouse and while I wouldn’t rule him out this race clearly isn’t his main target for the season.
Saddler’s Brook, a point to point winner, put in a pleasing display when 3rd at Leopardsown earlier this month. The talented Nina Carberry rides him in the 3.45 and he should go well.
On Sunday I fancy Schindler’s Hunt in the 3.10 at Naas. He has been in fine form this season and although he has not won over this distance he was only beaten less that a length when running over this trip earlier in the season. Patsy Hall will act in the ground and looks the danger.
In the 4.10 Nickname will be a warm order to maintain his winning run. He goes for his fourth straight win and in his favoured soft ground he is unlikely to be beaten.
If Exeter goes ahead Mark the Book from our list to follow is entered in the 2.20. A giant of a horse, this former Irish points winner ran well when second on his rules debut at Towcester. Obviously an embryo chaser he may well be able to get off the mark over hurdles tomorrow.
Blue Splash has already been mentioned in the Newcastle write up above. He is also entered in the 3.20 at Exeter on Sunday. He would be my selection in whatever turns out to be his chosen engagement.
Glasker Mill won first time out this season beating Dancing Bay at Fontwell. He then fell on his return to Fontwell last week. As long as that tumble has not affected his confidence I would take him to prevail in the Exeter 4.20.
Hope you have a good weekend.
Continue reading “Diary: February 24 & 25 2007”