Friday, December 19, 2008

Ascot on Saturday

Following the midweek decision to re-schedule the Boylesports International to a card that already boasts the Long Walk Hurdle and the Ladbroke, a spokesman was quoted as saying, in typically understated fashion, that this was 'probably the greatest day's hurdling ever seen'.

Your view on the Long Walk will depend on your interpretation of the Long Distance Hurdle ran at Newbury three weeks ago. To my mind, the race was run at a muddling pace and things looked to fall just right for Duke De Regniere; on the walk back to the winners' enclosure that day, McCoy practically said as much in a TV interview. McCoy retains the ride tomorrow and perhaps surprisingly the horse is pushing for favouritism. Those behind who are likely to fancy their chances tomorrow include Mobaasher, Pettifour, Blazing Bailey and Hills Of Aran. After looking through the form earlier in the week, I'm convinced Mobaasher isn't the easiest ride while the top-rated Blazing Bailey often throws in a poor jump - his effort at the penultimate flight at Newbury probably put paid to his chance. In addition there's some discussion as to whether blinkers have helped in the past - they're been left off here. Hills Of Aran is 66/1 in places which is big - the horse has an each-way squeak in my book. Both Serabad and Punchestowns, who won with any amount in hand last time at Cheltenham, may have difficulty with this trip. I prefer something I know will stay and so side with Twiston-Davies' charge Pettifour. I like this horse and the trainer has been quite bullish in the build-up. Whatever happens, we should have a race to remember.

Only five in the re-arranged International and it could turn into a tactical affair; Celestial Halo likes to race prominently. Using official handicap ratings as a guide, Katchit is the one they have to beat while there doesn't look much between Chomba Womba and Crack Away Jack. I would have preferred the race to have been at Cheltenham for Katchit but at around 9/2 the current champion hurdler looks value against the current champion hurdle favourite Binocular.

A token each-way selection at a price for the Ladbroke - Irish Legend has a racing weight and comes to this in good form.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Those sceptical of the value of Newbury's Long Distance Hurdle form, myself included, were proven well and truly wrong with Duc De Regniere's second in this race confirming placings with Mobaasher (third) Blazing Bailey (fourth) and Pettifour (fifth) while Hills Of Aran was well and truly outclassed and pulled up. However, Duc De Regniere couldn't get anywhere near stablemate Punchestowns (3/1f) who stayed the distance impressively and beat this high class field as he liked. The horse is now a best-priced 9/4 favourite for the World Hurdle at Cheltenham in March; if Henderson's horses are in similar form come spring, Punchestowns is likely to be many people's banker bet of that meeting. Pettifour (7/1) raced mid-division but struggled to go with the principals after a mistake three out and was well beaten.
The vibes beforehand were not good for Katchit with trainer Alan King quoted in several Saturday papers saying that his charge was not burning up the gallops at home and that he was concerned the horse had become 'lazy'. Allowed to go off at 7/1 having touched 9/1 in places, Katchit raced 'lazily' and finished a remote fourth. Ruby Walsh set a searching pace on Celestial Halo and still had a substantial lead coming to three out but McCoy brought Binocular (evens)smoothly into contention and this exciting prospect went on to win by four and a half lengths. Even at his best, I don't see Katchit reversing placings come March; on this running only Celestial Halo could get close to the current champion hurdle favourite - he's as short as 5/4 with some bookmakers.
Sentry Duty (12/1) completed a memorable day for the Henderson team by winning the Ladbroke on ground that probably didn't suit. 40/1 chance Irish Legend finished tenth of the twenty one runners.