Friday, October 24, 2008

Chepstow and Aintree

Chepstow's card tomorrow looks more interesting than Aintree's offering. Alan King's Junior makes his seasonal debut and is the top-rated animal in the opening Persian War Novices' Hurdle over two and a half miles. There are plenty of respected opponents in the field including Tarablaze, Gray Mountain and Khachaturian, all of whom have had a run in the last three weeks. Khachaturian may try to make all and will be dangerous if allowed a soft lead but at the weights Junior has to be the selection.

Only five go to post in the Beginners' Chase at 2.20; on paper it looks a match between Big Fella Thanks and Wichita Lineman. Wichita missed his intended comeback race at Southwell earlier in the week on account of the ground. Paul Nicholls' Big Fella Thanks looks the one to beat; the trainer commented last Sunday that the yard had been concentrating on schooling the novices over the past few weeks.

Hills Of Aran has some good form to his name and makes some appeal as an each-way wager in the 2.50. The horse didn't appear the easiest of rides last year, often coming on and off the bridle in his races, and there's still a slight suspicion he might be better going the other way round. He's had a pipe-opener on the Flat, Keith Goldsworthy's team are running to form and he'll handle any rain that falls between now and the off.

The going at Aintree is currently described as good to soft. Tatenen will be a warm order to take the 1.35 for Nicholls but I'm tempted to go against the crowd and take a chance with Striking Article who jumped well when winning at Hexham two weeks ago - he could anything.

Burntoakboy is a speculative choice for the Veterans' Chase (2.05) but he should improve for his recent pipe-opener while I'm prepared to give Black Jacari another chance in the juvenile hurdle (2.40) following his defeat at Market Rasen by Indian Dream. That day Black Jacari hung away from the running rail as they came up the home straight; racing left-handed here should suit better.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Some expensive short-priced failures here, with a 7/1 winner providing much-needed respite.
Junior's third in last year's Coral Cup at Cheltenham looked the best form on offer beforehand but he raced far too freely for his own good in the Persian War. Sent off 7/4 favourite, he was still in the mix four out but came a one-paced fifth. Sam Thomas rode Paul Nicholls' Hell's Bay (16/1) to an impressive victory in this, the best novice hurdle of the season so far.
Sixty minutes later Sam Thomas had Big Fella Thanks (4/6f) in the lead over the final fence but in the final forty yards West End Rocker edged ahead, only to be denied by the McCoy ridden Wichita Lineman (3/1) on the line. Not the right result, but a thrilling finish nonetheless; the selection was beaten a neck and a neck into third.
7/1 shot Hills Of Aran, another McCoy mount, stayed on well after the final flight to take it up in the shadow of the post and win three quarters of a length.
The money came for Arkle favourite Tatenen (4/7f) and the market called it right. Striking Article (9/4) looked keen at the start, made errors at the first two, jumped the third big before settling down. He 'breasted' the cross fence; that mistake put paid to any slim chance he had. He finished a well-beaten third - particularly disappointing was this round of jumping from a horse who had shown much better last time out.
Burntoakboy was a non-runner but Black Jacari (evens) was again turned over, this time beaten half a length by Namour (5/2). I won't risk this horse again until there's more tangible evidence in the book.