Friday, January 23, 2009

Cheltenham trials and Doncaster

Only eight go to post in the Letheby & Christopher Chase at 2.35 but it looks an intriguing contest. Halcon Genelardais is a model of consistency, the clear form pick and deserves to collect a decent prize. Of the two Nicholls runners, Ruby Walsh prefers Nozic, who is a bigger price in the tissue, to stablemate Star De Mohaison. I'm sure Howard Johnson has been working on Tidal Bay's jumping but the question marks in that department are a concern. In this I've decided to go for an each-way wager on one of the longer priced runners. Joe Lively has course and distance winning form and will relish a slog in the mud but he has it all to do to turn round previous form with Halcon Genelardais on roughly two stone worse terms. That being the case, Snoopy Loopy each way is the selection provided the eight face the starter. There's a niggling doubt that he may be suffering from the effects of several tough races. In the King George on Boxing Day he fell away badly a mile or so from home which was disappointing. The ground was plenty fast enough for him at Kempton and, as he struggled to go the pace, his jumping deteriorated. The heavy ground here will help as he's not always the most fluent of jumpers but he stays all day and the stable will be keen to pick up points for the Order of Merit; he's priced up at around 20/1.

In the 3.10 I'm not inclined to oppose Walkon, even though Reve De Sivola is entitled to beat the likely favourite on official ratings. Simarian was slightly disappointing behind both those horses at Chepstow last time but he has course and distance winning form - it would be no surprise to see him in the mix; had there been eight or more runners, he would have made some appeal each-way.

Punchestowns is another favourite I won't be taking on while in the 1.30 I'm sticking with Hennessy who didn't get a run last weekend at Wincanton and this race looks slightly less competitive.

In Doncaster's 1.30 King Jack should be thereabouts in a tough-looking handicap hurdle; he rates an each-way wager if priced in double figures but wouldn't want the conditions too testing while those desperate for an interest in the Sky Bet Chase could do worse than Alexanderthegreat who has a racing weight and has been in decent form recently.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Heavy going at Cheltenham and heavy going for most of my selections too. In the Letheby & Christopher I chose the wrong longer-priced option. Snoopy Loopy (20/1) raced prominently but started to lose ground as they went out on the second circuit and was pulled up two out. He's had a few hard races over the autumn and on this running those races look to have taken their toll. Joe Lively (11/1) likes Cheltenham, took an uncontested lead and clearly enjoyed himself. He looked in trouble with an uncharacteristically bad mistake two out, handing the initiative to 5/2 favourite Halcon Genelardais, only to fight back after the last and win going away. This was an impressive performance at the weights.
Walkon (6/5f) and Reve De Sivola (11/4) fought out the finish in the 3.10 with the former prevailing by one and a quarter lengths. Simon Holt described the victory as 'workmanlike' but the winner was giving seven pounds to his rival and never looked like being caught - I thought it was a good performance. Betting for The Triumph, a race I'm not keen on, is currently 4/1 Zaynar, 5/1 Walkon, 13/2 Starluck; Choc Thornton rates Starluck as 'having gears' - if you put a gun to my head now, I'd choose Starluck - he's the value of the top three in my opinion. Simarian (6/1) was badly outpaced two out and stayed on for third, some twenty five lengths behind the front two. I think this may be as good as he is.
Punchestowns (10/11f) was turned over four lengths trying to concede eight pounds to Paul Nicholls' Big Buck's (7/2). The heavy ground won't have helped the favourite's cause but I find Big Buck's a difficult horse to read. He's clearly a tricky ride but there could well be more to come - he's now a best priced 5/1 for the World Hurdle in March where they will race off level weights.
A below par effort from Hennessy (13/2) whose jumping deteriorated once the race began in earnest, finishing tailed off in sixth; Ping Pong Sivola (3/1f) ran her rivals ragged here but isn't entered up for the Festival.
At Doncaster King Jack was a non-runner on account of the ground while Alexanderthegreat, with McCoy in the plate after a spate of withdrawals, was sent off 4/1 favourite! He ran well enough but was left behind up the home straight finishing a well-beaten sixth behind Big Fella Thanks (9/2).