Friday, February 06, 2009

The return of Denman

With Newbury abandoned, Denman is diverted and will make his eagerly-anticipated return in the Levy Board Chase at Kempton tomorrow, provided the course passes an 8.00am inspection. He's likely to start long odds-on; here are a few reasons why you should be wary about taking short odds...

- he hasn't run for 330 days
- he was extremely ill in the autumn with a fibrillating heart
- this is the acid test - nobody knows for certain whether he has fully recovered from the illness
- trainer Nicholls has had to build the horse back up whereas last year the reverse was the case - connections were keen to run him to gain some fitness
- Paul Nicholls: "Kempton is obviously not ideal, and I would never have wanted to run him in a King George round there..."
- Of his fourteen runs, only three have been on a right-handed track - two at Wincanton and one at Exeter.

For those looking to oppose, Albertas Run would have made much more appeal on better ground while course and distance winner Joe Lively comes to this in good form and is a potential front-runner but he had a hard enough race at Cheltenham two weeks ago. Madison Du Berlais isn't the best of jumpers and Trabolgan's return in December was rather disappointing. You pay your money and take your choice - the percentage call is Denman and plenty in racing will be hoping 'the tank' does his stuff. Of the opponents, Joe Lively looks to have the best chance should the favourite disappoint but this is a race to watch for future reference.

In the novices' hurdle at 1.40 Pause And Clause is the top-rated animal; his second behind Mad Max at Newbury is good form and the longer trip here should suit. In the 3.25 Lightning Strike will be popular but doesn't have an awful lot of experience over the larger obstacles. Charlie Mann's Moon Over Miami is a free-running sort often best coming off the pace. He can be temperamental and often gets upset by the preliminaries but has ability and on a going day wouldn't be without a chance. At the 6/1 reported by the Racing Post he'd be worth an interest provided he doesn't get too worked up beforehand. Leading Contender is the top horse in the Rasher Frith Memorial Beginners' Chase but has been off the track for well over a year; that being the case, a chance is taken at a price with The Cool Guy who was running a respectable race at Chepstow last time before tiring in the heavy conditions. The shorter trip should help but the stable's form is an obvious worry. In an open-looking bumper to finish with, Phillip Hobbs' Tzora should be thereabouts.

McCoy's quest for 3,000 winners continues tomorrow with four rides booked - Abutilon (2.15), Albertas Run (2.50), That's An Idea (4.00) and Quipe Me Posted (4.35).

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

No matter how you dress it up, Denman's defeat was mightily disappointing. Sent off the 8/11 favourite, he never travelled particularly well and looked decidedly ponderous up the home straight as Madison Du Berlais (12/1) won by an eased-down twenty three lengths. Those who point to the horses labouring behind the favourite should take into account that Albertas Run (4/1) didn't have his ground while Joe Lively (5/1) looked to be feeling the effects of his last race a fortnigtht ago. The question is - did Denman's run in last year's Gold Cup 'bottom' him?
Pause And Clause (5/4f) made all for an impressive victory and looks set to head for the Ballymore at Cheltenham next month.
The front two in the market, Osako D'Airy (7/4f) and Lightning Strike (5/2) both jumped poorly in the 3.25. Moon Over Miami (15/2) looked to be in with a shout as they turned in but he was left for dead up the straight and finished a weakening fifth - he left the impression he didn't stay. Tartak (7/2) won in convincing style.
Once again The Cool Guy (4/1) disappointed, finishing a very moderate third behind Pancake (5/2) who made all and held off stablemate Leading Contender (9/4f) three and a quarter lengths.
Tzora (2/1f) had no answer to Sally Alner's winner Aegean Dawn (14/1), finishing ten lengths adrift in second.
No winners for Tony McCoy who still remains two short of his 3,000th win.