Friday, December 05, 2008

Sandown, Wetherby and Chepstow

I was on two minds whether to play today (Friday) with a couple of decent races at both Sandown and Exeter; in the event I'm glad I didn't. The victory of Barbers Shop over Sandown's stiff three miles stands out. This evening Paddy Power offer just 16/1 the horse for the Cheltenham Gold Cup; Hills go 33/1. Nicky Henderson can do little wrong at the moment - his 13/2 shot Doubly Guest looked set to spring a surprise in the 1.00 race at Exeter but a mistake at the last handed the initiative to Lupanar (7/1) who went on to score by half a length, with Franchoek a further one and a half lengths behind in third.

The feature at Sandown tomorrow is the Tingle Creek at 2.35. McCoy takes over from Sam Thomas to ride Master Minded, the highest rated horse in training; he'll be no price but is difficult to oppose. A number of commentators oppose with Tidal Bay; he's been backed during the week and represents a value play provided you're prepared to take on the favourite. At the back of my mind I have a picture of this horse jumping poorly at Doncaster before he went on to win the Arkle last season - having said that he had a nice pipe-opener at Carlisle five weeks ago. Twist Magic looked good winning this last year but things haven't really worked out since. The race doesn't make much appeal from a betting point of view. If eight had gone to post 50/1 shot Fiepes Shuffle would have had a sporting each-way chance of making the first three; I take Master Minded to win.

Only five runners in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase, but picking the winner isn't an easy matter. The two four year olds, Free World and Araldur, get a weight allowance from their opponents and the former is a course and distance winner. The railway fences in particular will provide a stiff test for a young novice but I'm going to take a chance on Araldur as a play against the Nicholls hotpot Free World. Cheating Chance would make more appeal if underfoot conditions were better; I'm sure I saw a comment earlier in the week from trainer Andy Turnell that implied the owners (rather than the trainer) were the ones who were keen to race here.

I consider Hernando Royal an each-way play in the 3.15 after his fourth behind Sunnyhillboy at Cheltenham; his featherweight will be an advantage in the prevailing conditions.

Provided there's no overnight frost the card at Wetherby should get the go-ahead. Nicky Henderson's Punjabi is expected to take the re-arranged 'Fighting Fifth' but he won't be a betting proposition.

In the One Man Novices' Chase Will Be Done is the top-rated animal; his beating of Nine De Sivola last time out reads well. Having said that, Silver By Nature was a close second to the highly-regarded Kealshore Boy at Newcastle. I'll chance Silver By Nature as he offers value, although I harbour some reservations about him quite seeing out this trip in testing conditions. Both these race prominently - I hope they don't get caught out taking each other on early doors.

Travelling back south, the going at Chepstow is soft. The markets think the man in the news, Sam Thomas, has a couple of steering jobs with Charity Lane and Inchidaly Rock; for those prepared to take a chance, Baren De Doc may repay each-way support in the opener.

If Ardaghey is priced up favourite for the 2.10 he'll be worth opposing as the trip looks on the short side for this dour stayer. Pauillac has disappointed too often for my liking while Presenting Copper isn't guaranteed to get the trip. In a trappy affair I'm tempted to side with Lysander; Michael Murphy takes off a valuable seven pounds.

Course and distance winner Wichita Lineman is the selection for the one o'clock race.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

4/7 favourite Master Minded won the Tingle Creek in the manner of an exceptional horse; he's now as short as 1/2 for the Champion Chase next March. In the build-up the TV boys made plenty of reference to potential flaws in the winner's jumping which I found somewhat surprising. On his day this horse is one of the quickest and most economical jumpers of a fence I've seen; he displayed all that swiftness today while his rivals floundered. Tidal Bay's jumping was not as fluent but he stayed on well to take second - connections have indicated they do not intend to take on the winner again. What sort of an enigma is Twist Magic? Last year's winner, a 10/1 shot, clearly likes Sandown and looked a serious threat when coming down at the penultimate flight.
I have Choc Thornton to thank for getting Araldur (11/4) up in a stirring finish with Free World. Although he has been quoted as low as 12/1 for the Arkle, it's unlikely he'll take that route - a step up in trip looks on the cards.
Totesport went 11/1 Hernando Royal first thing but that disappeared pretty quickly as Pricewise had tipped the beast; he went off a 6/1shot. Taking a narrow lead two out, he looked booked for at least a place but a slightly slow jump at the last enabled the pursuers to swamp him on the run to the line and he finished fourth behind Sunnyhillboy (9/2jf), as he had at Cheltenham. I don't think the winner has stopped improving yet.
Punjabi (8/11f) won the Fighting Fifth but only by a head from his market rival Sublimity(9/4). The winner showed plenty of commitment after being headed at the last. In the post-race review jockey Barry Geraghty said his mount blew up two out and should improve for this run; the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton is the second leg of a possible treble that could win connections £1 million.
A desperately disappointing effort from Silver By Nature (9/4) who was the first beaten in the One Man Novices' Chase; market rival Will Be Done (2/1f) won this easily.
At Chepstow those brave enough to take an each-way chance with Baren De Doc (20/1) were rewarded as the horse led for much of the trip, eventually finishing second to Nicholls' hotpot Charity Lane (1/4f).
Araghey went off 10/1 - in the Friday night tissue shows he was priced up as the 9/4 favourite! Pauillac was made the 2/1 favourite on the day but again disappointed. On a course that favours front runners, Richard Johnson let Presenting Copper (5/2) take this race by the scruff of the neck, leading from the second and never seeing another rival. Lysander (6/1) made some headway four out but was one paced thereafter, finishing twelve lengths adrift in third.
15/8 chance Wichita Lineman won, although he needed plenty of assistance from Timmy Murphy to see off Pancake on the run-in. The value of the form is somewhat devalued by 5/4 favourite Nakai unseating Sam Thomas at the ninth.