Friday, December 11, 2009

Cheltenham's Boylesports Saturday

The ground rides soft for tomorrow's Boylesports meeting at Cheltenham, with the first race due off at 12.10. Seven go to post in The International which looks at the mercy of top-rated Celestial Halo who is priced up at 8/13 this evening. The current champion hurdler Punjabi makes his seasonal debut here having missed the Fighting Fifth at Newcastle; trainer Nicky Henderson has said recently the horse 'has done plenty of work but is a notoriously stuffy individual', a comment that could equally apply to my mother-in-law. I won't get involved as I'm not inclined to oppose the favourite; his connections have decided not to run Oslot as a pacemaker, an idea which was mooted earlier in the week.

Similarly Zaynar will be long odds on in the finale, the Relkeel. He can't be opposed but again I won't play.

The feature on the card, the Gold Cup Handicap Chase, is a far more open event with seventeen set to face the starter; the favourite hasn't won this race in the last twelve years. I've been on the lookout for an each-way chance set to carry less than eleven stones. Keith Goldsworthy thinks conditions will suit the ultra-tough Hold Em who gets in here with bottom weight and is 14/1 with Coral; Razor Royale would be worth a second look but I think I'll take a chance with Skippers Brig. Nicky Richards' charge should revel in the testing conditions - William Hill offer 12/1 this evening.

Tom George's horses are only just starting to run better - Je Ne Sais Plus was the yard's first winner for a while when being awarded today's finale at Doncaster in the stewards' room. On ratings his Tell Massini looks the one in the Albert Bartlett Bristol Novices' Hurdle. Both The Minack and Lord Generous are interesting in receipt of three pounds, with preference for the former - I'll indulge if he's priced around the 3/1 mark.

Finally, there are some interesting individuals in the opener. The word appears to be for Ultimate while Olofi's third over course and distance behind Pistolet Noir last month reads well. Hector's House won a seller at Sedgefield on Tuesday but Sergeant Pink may be of more interest following his win on soft ground at Market Rasen nine days ago. I've heard a whisper for George Nympton on the couple of occasions he's run, although he'll have to step up on what he's shown so far to be competitive here. Nick Williams' yard is in good form - I'll consider a small each-way interest.

Postscript - specialist miler Cesare will be interesting to watch as he makes his hurdling debut over two miles in the 1.00 at Doncaster. He may well stay the trip but I wouldn't bet on it...

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Something of a shock in the International with Khyber Kim (12/1) readily quickening away from odds on favourite Celestial Halo; well done John Francome who called this one correctly. KK is now 12/1 for the Champion. Punjabi ran as though he needed the race; I'm not one for ante-post betting but the 16/1 on offer for the March showpiece immediately afterwards looked big - he's now 12s in most places with the odd 14/1 here and there.
Zaynar (1/5f) won with his head in his chest and is now 5/1 for the Champion.
Skippers Brig was 12/1 in the morning but that price contracted to 15/2 at the off. The horse ran a sound race without ever threatening to win - he stayed on into third after Chapoturgeon blundered at the last. Poquelin became the first favourite since 1996 to take this and he did so in the style of a smart animal, holding Razor Royale seven lengths at the line; it's clear connections think the winner will be a better horse on better ground.
Tom George may have been struggling to find winners of late but he had two here, with Tell Massini (4/5f) never in any trouble at the head of affairs and staying on well up the hill. Selection The Minack (11/4) made a bad mistake three out that in effect put an end to his chance - Ruby did well to sit tight. Having said that, I don't think he would have got anywhere near the winner.
Tom George's Olofi (100/30) took the opener; selection George Nympton (12/1 in the morning but 8/1 at the off) came with every chance at the last but couldn't go with the winner, finishing two and a half lengths second. This was a decent effort and certainly his best run to date; earlier in the season Barizan was the top-rated juvenile out - Olofi beat that one at Cheltenham the last time so the form looks respectable.
At Doncaster Cesare jumped well but came home third. In Channel 4's coverage, Jim McGrath said he thought the horse was up to winning a hurdle race. Jockey Paul Moloney doesn't - here's his quote "He doesn't stay. He jumped great but I think he'll struggle."
Racing - it's all about opinions, isn't it?