Friday, January 15, 2010

Jumping comes back at Kempton

Tomorrow Kempton looks set to host the first jumps meeting since Plumpton on January 3rd, the highlight being the Lanzarote Hurdle (run over two miles five furlongs these days) at 2.45, while Huntingdon hold an inspection at 8.00 in the morning. The first question to ask after such a protracted break is how have the various trainers managed to cope with the wintry conditions. Paul Nicholls has managed to keep his string ticking over; at the start of the year, as in the past, he inoculated all his charges against equine flu - traditionally this is a quiet time for the stable. Nicky Henderson sent out three winners on Southwell's all-weather bumper card on Wednesday but in this week's Weekender Alan King, whose string were slower out of the blocks than usual in the autumn, concedes that the snow is likely to have set him back again.

With so many unknowns, I intend to play cautiously and will give the form a few days to settle down again. Thirteen go to post in the Lanzarote, with the in-from Nicky Henderson operation looking to hold a strong hand with Tasheba and Duc De Regniere. Stable jockey Barry Geraghty rides the former but it would be unwise to discount the Duc - Tanya Stevenson (@TheFemale) pointed out on Twitter earlier in the day that the horse has won all his three starts at the track; in addition claimer David Bass takes off a handy-looking seven pounds. In my book one who could have more to come is Aachen - I was prepared to consider an each-way dabble at around 12/1 but he's priced up at 8s this evening and has been off the track a while so I'll watch his progress but won't get involved.

The 12.55 sees the eagerly-awaited chasing debut of Nicky Henderson's Mad Max. Eighth behind Mikael D'Haguenet in the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle at Cheltenham last time out, Mad Max is a giant of a horse who should certainly benefit from jumping a fence. Having said that, he's had a couple of breathing operations since that run - I'm never keen on taking short odds about a horse who has had such an operation and returns to race on soft / heavy going. There's only five in the field and I know I'm going out on a limb but I think there's more to come from Nick Gifford's Dee Ee Williams - I'll consider opposing if tonight's tissue price of 5/1 is available on the day.

With an official rating of 144 Kennel Hill sets the standard in the novices' hurdle at 1.30 but it's interesting to see the Nicholls yard reoppose with The Minack who was beaten fifteen lengths by KH over three furlongs further in Tell Massini's race at Cheltenham. I tipped The Minack the last time; at the likely prices on offer I may give him another chance as he lost any hope with a howler three out. Trainer Nick Gifford had a good word for Ashleys Lad.

Another Twitter titbit from @TheFemale points out that in the finale only one favourite has obliged in the last ten years. The Weekender reports that Nick Gifford has kept his string going in the snow - provided the stable's runners have run respectably beforehand I'll consider taking a chance with Tullamore Dew.

Those looking for a slightly different approach after the cold spell may want to note the following trainers whose horses ran well enough on the all-weather at Southwell earlier in the week: N. J. Henderson, Mrs L. Wadham (included 33/1 winner), C. Mann, C. T. Pogson, J. Howard Johnson, G.L. Moore, D.E. Cantillon, I.Williams and N.T. Chance. Good luck!

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

First of all, it's good to see jump racing back again, isn't it?

I refrained from getting involved in the Lanzarote and was glad I'd made that decision... There was plenty of money for Venetia Williams' Aachen beforehand - he went off at 7/1, raced prominently but was one of the first beaten and was pulled up. Micheal Flips (9/1) won this impressively from the fancied Duc De Reginere 9/2f).
On grounds of value I took 5/1 Dee Ee Williams but he ran an absolute stinker, jumping left on occasions to finish a well-beaten fourth of five. Perhaps it's time to accept the inevitable - this horse is not going to be as good over fences as he was over hurdles. As many expected, Mad Max (5/6f) took the spoils in the novice chase but, surprisingly, it was Mahonia (10/1) who made him
work hardest of all. Given the recent break, the form may be slightly suspect, but at face value that represents decent improvement for Nicholls' charge. Many will want to follow the winner so they will be pleased to hear connections report the horse didn't make a noise during the race.
Before the off the novice hurdle looked between Kennel Hill (13/8f) and The Minack (9/4). As they came to the home turn, the favourite looked to have things under control but he threw the race away with a display of utter petulance, allowing the selection to go on between the final two flights and score by eight lengths. Two points: the winner can consider himself lucky and wouldn't be one to lump on next time while the form book tells us Kennel Hill 'gave up completely' - this horse looks guaranteed to get the Timeform 'squiggle'. Ashleys Lad stayed on into third, some sixteen lengths behind the second, and is worth keeping in mind for the future.
Given the form of the stable runners in the earlier races, I didn't back Tullamore Dew, epsecially as there wasn't a lot of value to be had in the 9/2 SP. This one pulled far too hard for his own good early on and was a spent force before the home turn. The race went to 9/2 chance Novikov with 3/1f William Hogarth finishing second for the fifth time in his last six races. Somebody knew something here as the winner, trained by P. D. Evans, was backed on course from 13/2.