Thursday, November 12, 2009

Cheltenham Open meeting 2009 - Friday

Some of this year's Open meeting looks like taking place on soft, perhaps heavy going, if the predicted rains arrive. That has tempered my enthusiasm a little for the first day - I feel cautious rather than confident.

Some Present, second behind Dunguib in the Festival bumper last March, is the suggestion for the Sharp Novices' Hurdle at 1.50. On his comeback run he was surprisingly beaten by Sweeps Hill at Punchestown but that was a small field and a tactical affair; he'll certainly handle the expected easier going. Paul Nicholls saddles the four-year-old Tito Bustilo who wears a tongue-tie for the first time; I'm always a little wary of horses wearing toungue-ties racing on testing ground. I like Twiston-Davies' Cootehill but the balance of his form appears to be on better ground.

Nicky Henderson is in good form at the moment and his French Opera will have plenty of supporters in the 2.25. Course and distance winner Tramantano beat Beggars Cap the last time at Aintree but we can expect Ferdy Murphy's horse to be a different proposition on this course - at the age of ten have we seen the best of the Twiston-Davies inmate? In an open-looking race I'll consider an each-way wager on the top-weight Song Of Songs. This one doesn't have too many miles on the clock and should be competitive - there may a slight question surrounding his jumping.

I won't get involved in the Cross Country Chase - Garde Champetre has become something of a standing dish and is likely to be priced accordingly. On offical ratings the favourite will have plenty to do giving Silver Birch twelve pounds; having said that, he has had the benefit of a warm-up spin over hurdles three weeks ago.

In the finale I'm going to stick with Knockara Beau despite the top weight. His defeat of the well-regarded Killyglen at Carlisle the last time reads well - I hope this doesn't come too soon. Ashkazar appears to have two ways of running but is very good on his day; he beat nothing on his first try over fences. Aigle D'Or is described by his handler as 'an enigma' and doesn't appeal to me on his chasing debut. Whatever happens, this is an interesting race which should give us some pointers for the future.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Some Present (13/8f) didn't look that good as he hung badly left after the last but Loosen My Load (5/2) had made the decisive break, quickening nicely between the final two flights to hold the selection half a length at the winning line.
French Opera (5/2f) made all to take the 2.25; Song Of Songs put in a most disappointing effort, making a mistake at the third and racing behind thereafter - he finished a distant last of the seven starters.
Knockara Beau (5/2jf) on the other hand looked a little unfortunate to have the spoils snatched from his grasp within the shadow of the post. Giving eventual winner Wierd Al (12/1) eight pounds, he was in front with a hundred yards to go but had to succumb to the winner's late surge. That looks a decent performance by both the first and second - that was only the winner's third run of his life. The suggestion is he isn't the easiest to keep sound but connections clearly feel he's 'a proper Cheltenham sort'. It will be interesting to see where they go from here.