Horses running from our main list to follow
Cheltenham 1.00 – Ballyfoy
Cheltenham 1.35 – Lead On & Predateur
Cheltenham 2.10 – Bob Hall
Cheltenham 2.45 – Oscar Park
Cheltenham 3.20 – Gaspara, Afsoun, Wichita Lineman & Blazing Bailey
Exeter 12.40 – Lodge Lane
Exeter 2.25 – The Real Deal
Exeter 3.30 – Oslot
Catterick 1.55 – Shouyldhavehadthat
Catterick 3.35 – Starting Point
Horses running from our “dark horses” list
Cheltenham 1.00 – Always Waining
Catterick 2.30 – Border Tale
Much has been written elsewhere about the stars of 2007, Dylan Thomas, Authorized, Kauto Star Denman etc. I thought I would highlight one of the lesser lights that give us just as much pleasure (and sometimes profit). The handicap chase at Haydock yesterday was aptly named the Last Fling handicap and sponsored by Blackpool Tower and Circus. It was won in ultra game style by the grey Huka Lodge who epitomizes all that I love about jump racing. He comes out year after year, is as tough as they come and a grey as well. This was his 3rd win at the Lancashire track and he again confirmed his liking for a battle in the mud.
Huka Lodge is trained by Kate Walton whose stable is one of my “links.”
The jumps season has been rather a disappointing one as far as my list to follow is concerned. There have been few big priced winners with Niaid de Missalot the best so far (11/1) followed by Calgary Bay (9/1). There have been some muliple winners, notably Tidal Bay who has won his 3 starts, as has his stable companion Cedrus Libani. There have also been some big race successes from the likes of Kauto Star, Denman, L’Antartique and Twist Magic. The end of term report must read “could do better” though so here’s hoping for an upturn in fortunes in 2008.
I will start the preview of Tuesday’s racing with the 1.00 at Cheltenham where 2 from our list to follow are in action. Always Waining finished in mid division in the Hennessy and it is possible that the handicapper has just got his measure. He ran well on his last visit to Cheltenham however and he does have a squeak here. Ballyfoy, trained by Tom George is another that is possibly in the grip of the handicapper. He did show a glimmer of promise when 4th on his last run and another positive is the booking of Timmy Murphy. Ballyfoy certainly stays well.
There are 3 jumps meetings in the UK on New Years Day with runners from our list to follow represented at all 3.
The 1.35 looks tricky despite there only being 5 runners. Lead On got off the mark over fences at Exeter last time and the 2nd and 3rd in that race have both won since. Predateur is yet to win over fences but has run respectively in races won by Tidal Bay and Moon Over Miami. I am going to take a chance with Lead On.
Bob Hall is a consistent sort who goes well at Cheltenham. He rarely runs a bad race and is likely to be suited by the conditions at Cheltenham. He has an each way chance in the 2.10 but the indifferent form of the yard is a slight concern.
Star de Mohaison is likely to be all the rage in the 2.45 but has been off for over a year with injury and does not look value. Oscar Park was in the process of running a big race when coming to grief at Newbury in a race won by Inglis Drever. He is a course and distance winner and hopefully will give us a run for our money.
Afsoun has ticks in the right boxes in the 3.20 and looks the one to beat. Blazing Bailey has disappointed so far this season but the stable are going well and I would not be surprised to see him back to something like his best.
Dual bumper winner Lodge Lane also made a successful start over hurdles at Fontwell and with his trainer in good form looks the one to be on in the 12.40 at Exeter.
The Real Deal does not seem to have taken to jumping fences but it is interesting that his trainer perseveres with him in that sphere. He is well in at the weights potentially compared to his hurdles mark and if his jumping does improve could run well at a big price in the Exeter 2.25. Both trip and going should suit him.
Oslot makes his chasing debut for Paul Nicholls in the 3.30 at Exter. A multiple winner on the flat in France he won twice over hurdles last season and he could well make a winning start over the larger obstacles.
Starting Point has winning form in bumpers and is with the right trainer to get the best out of him now he goes over hurdles. As the saying goes, “he could be anything.”
Happy New Year to all readers and best wishes for a healthy and profitable 2008.
Nap of the day
Cheltenham 3.20 –Afsoun
The record time for the Cheltenham Gold Cup was 6 minutes 30 seconds set by Looks Like Trouble in 2000.
What’s in a name?
Snowy Day who runs in the 12.15 at Catterick maintains a winter/icy tradition as his dam was Snow White, who in turn was sired by Polar Falcon.