Friday, January 16, 2009

Ascot, Haydock & Wincanton

Master Minded is the star attraction in the Victor Chandler Chase at Ascot tomorrow; it's a race to savour. The current Triumph hurdle favourite Zaynar starts in the opener - his performance will be scrutinised closely with the Cheltenham Festival just over seven weeks away. On paper the Montpelier Group Lightning Novices' Chase at 1.40 looks to be between Free World and Calgary Bay; both horses feature prominently in the Arkle betting. Calgary Bay came on the scene last time out by beating Kicks For Free with some authority over two miles five at Cheltenham, while Free World was pipped at the post by Araldur in the Henry VIII Novices' Chase at Sandown. On official handicap ratings Free World is the one to beat and in addition he receives six pounds from Calgary Bay; connections of Calgary Bay had hoped to get McCoy for their mount - who doesn't look the easiest of rides - but the champion goes to Haydock instead. Free World has to be the selection. I won't be getting involved in the 1.05 but I'd be wary of Serabad who, to my mind, runs his best races with plenty of give underfoot while the booking of Ruby Walsh for Kawagino catches the eye. In the mares' race at 2.50 United will be popular as she is some way clear of her rivals on official ratings but she has never won over this distance and connections have stated publicly that her target is a race at the Festival; there's also the possibility she may 'bounce' after her latest run which followed a long layoff. The finale is a hot novice hurdle and should provide some useful pointers for the future.

Two weeks ago the Tolworth was abandoned at Sandown on account of the weather but three of the protagonists turn out at Haydock tomorrow for the Rossington Main. Dee Ee Williams was my Tolworth fancy and I'm sticking with him here - he's the top-rated horse. Mahonia was a little disappointing at Cheltenham last time while Nicky Henderson's Clay Hollister could easily improve to test the selection. Connections won't want too much rain overnight for Snap Tie in the Champion Hurdle trial where I think Songe has place prospects. The Peter Marsh looks tricky. Cloudy Lane is coming into form but isn't the biggest of horses and may struggle to carry top weight on soft ground. If I get involved I'll take a chance with Alan King's Kandjar D'Allier who is getting a little long in the tooth these days but likes Haydock and often runs well following a break. In the novice chase at 3.00 Massini's Maguire wouldn't want any more rain while on official ratings Wind Instrument is bang there with a chance - provided his jumping holds out.

At Wincanton Pepite De Soleil should take the opener but will be no price at all. The Connaught Cup at 3.45 has £40,000 added prize money and looks suitably competitive. The one at the top of the handicap, Hennessy, will do for me. On the down side he has to carry top weight on soft ground and he has limited chase experience but he's a big horse who appeals as an unexposed type and comes from a stable in form.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

An imperious display from Master Minded (1/4f) in the Victor Chandler but Zaynar (1/5f) was far less impressive in taking the opener at Ascot; he didn't hurdle particularly fluently but won eight lengths in 'workmanlike fashion'.
Free World (4/5f) was beaten comprehensively into third by surprise winner Panjo Bere (16/1) with Calgary Bay three quarters of a length second. The going had been described as good, good to soft in places, but judging by the mud-splattered faces of the jocks after the first it looked to be riding pretty testing. Although it was a disappoiitng display from Free World, I'd be prepared to give him another chance - Ruby Walsh said after the race he wouldn't write the horse off just yet.
United (evens) won as she was entitled to but had a hard race in the process and would have been pressed by Sweetheart had that one not blundered at the last.
At Haydock Dee Ee Williams (7/4f) flattered to deceive, going second on the home run but then fading to finish a well-beaten fourth behind Alfie Flits who was backed in from 14/1 to 8s.
Snap Tie (11/10f) weakened to finish third behind Songe (7/1) - this was a good display by the winner who now goes for the big handicap hurdle at Newbury in February and then the County Hurdle at Cheltenham.
Plenty of incident and a fine finish in the Peter Marsh with Cloudy Lane (6/1) putting up a sterling performance under top weight to just pip Glasker Mill on the line. Kandjar D'Allier (13/2) ran well for a long way at the head of affairs but was swallowed up on the turn for home and finished a distant sixth.
Pepite De Soleil (1/3f) just held on at Wincanton, beating the Alan King trained Santia (13/2) a neck - that result will give connections a marker for their highly-regarded Walkon. Hennessy was withdrawn from the Connaught Cup which went to 6/1 shot Double Dizzy, although the horse only just lasted home with the fast-finishing Lord Killeshanra (9/1) closing all the way to the line.