Friday, November 23, 2007

Haydock, Huntingdon and Ascot

Three top class meetings give us an embarrassment of riches this Saturday. All eyes will be on Kauto Star's performance as, for a second time, he goes for the first leg of the Betfair Million in the Betfair Chase at Haydock. The manner in which he won this race last year stands out in my memory; I'm not inclined to oppose him on this occasion in spite of what has been written about his 'lazy' style of racing following his recent defeat over a trip shorter than ideal. Dick Hunter comments in The Weekender that My Way De Solzen, making his reappearance, is a difficult horse to get fit at home, while, in my opinion, Exotic Dancer takes some knowing. Turpin Green has two ways of running and could be thereabouts using his Gold Cup effort as a benchmark, provided he's in the mood; he has won on his reapperance previously. Kauto Star will make little appeal as betting material but he's the selection.

Over at Huntingdon only four go to post for the Peterborough Chase at 3.35. Racing Demon is the top rated horse and has the assistance of McCoy from the saddle. Ferdy Murphy's Aces Four ran in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby three weeks ago. An interview with one of the owners just before the off revealed that they were just interested in getting him jumping again following his heavy fall at Punchestown last April. Aces Four was pulled up at Wetherby and, although he'll strip fitter for the experience, I'm siding with Racing Demon to repeat his win of last year for a stable that has a remarkable record in this race.

The Coral Ascot Hurdle, due off at 1.50, looks competitive. Detroit City returns following disappointing efforts last season and some running repairs over the summer. Hardy Eustace won this last year but is getting no younger while Jonjo has pointed out the conditions of the race don't favour Wichita Lineman. Nicky Henderson's Afsoun was third in the Champion Hurdle last March; provided the longer trip suits, he looks the safest option and gets the vote.


Anonymous said...

Wow, what a fantastic race. I had Exoctic Dancer @ 8/1, well worth the money!

Ned Nederlander

GeeDee said...

For sheer spectacle, thrills and excitement I've always believed you can't beat top class steeplechasing; Kauto Star's half length defeat of old adversary Exotic Dancer proved that point this afternoon. The 4/5 favourite, giving Sam Thomas his biggest win to date, had to work hard in the shadow of the post after being left in the lead earlier than was ideal. My reading of the finish was that ED (8/1) would have won in another few strides - that will give the O'Neill camp renewed determination for the King George on Boxing Day. Trainer Alan King has publicly apologised for the display of My Way De Solzen (11/4), stating he sent the horse into the race undercooked; the horse should not be judged on this performance.
With £70,000 prize money on offer for the Peterborough Chase, a field of just two runners indicates something is wrong somewhere. With the defection of Fair Along and Aces Four, Racing Demon (1/4f) beat Natal (3/1) by thirty lengths, as you would expect. We can also expect some changes before the next running.
I still can't quite believe Afsoun (9/4f) was beaten half a length by old warrior Hardy Eustace (3/1) at Ascot. Afsoun travelled supremely well in the race but, in a ding-dong battle up the short straight, he was outfought by HE. Ceefax report Mick Fitzgerald rode the finish without his whip, having dropped it earlier in the race; it may have made the difference but take nothing away from HE who appears to retain all his ability on the eve of his eleventh birthday - a remarkable horse. The unfortunate death of Detroit City at the second hurdle cast a veil of sadness over this whole meeting.