Friday, February 19, 2010

Saturday digest

With overnight temperatures forecast to go down to minus three, inspections are scheduled for all tomorrow's turf cards; the covers are in place at Ascot but clerk of the course Chris Stickels doesn't envisage any problems.

Nicky Henderson has probably had better weeks with Binocular being scratched from the Champion Hurdle entries on Wednesday and Zaynar being turned over at odds of 1/14 at Kelso on Thursday. Normal service was resumed today with Oscar Whisky's easy victory in the Kylmar Novices' Hurdle - that one now goes for the Supreme Novices' at Cheltenham next month; William Hill bet 16/1. The trainer will be hoping to start tomorrow's proceedings with a short-priced double courtesy of Finian's Rainbow in the opener and Burton Port in the next, the Reynoldstown Novices' Chase.

Only six go in the Betfair Ascot Chase but it's still very competitive. Several of these are closely matched - on official ratings Philip Hobbs' Planet Of Sound is the one to beat; he hasn't raced this far previously and jumping proved his undoing here the last time when one bad mistake handed the initiative to Albertas Run. Herecomesthetruth has a mind of his own and seven pounds to find with the Hobbs horse but Paul Nicholls clearly expects a big run in a race that has been the target for some time. The other one I'd consider is Alan King's Oh Crick. He was beaten by Planet Of Sound in the Haldon Cup on his seasonal debut (with the yard stuggling to find form) but made eye-catching progress the last time when staying on into third behind Twist Magic in the Victor Chandler. The extra distance here should suit - the 8/1 on offer this evening from totesport is tempting. However I'm going to side with Herecomesthtruth who is 3/1 with most layers at the moment.

Menorah, currently 8/1 second favourite behind Dunguib for the Supreme Novices' Hurdle, will be short odds to take the 3.45

If the Haydock card gets the green light, the Blue Square Gold Cup will be the highlight run over three and a half miles on ground described as heavy. Several of these met in the Welsh National at Chepstow over Christmas; that day Dream Alliance collected the spoils although he was very nearly reeled in by the fast-finishing Silver By Nature. That one reopposes here on two pounds better terms for threequarters of a length beating - there shouldn't be much in it at the line. The form of Lucinda Rusell's stable (one win from twenty runs in the past fortnight) is a concern. Le Beau Bai is on the small side for a chaser but may well take to this tight track while Coe has a decent record here over jumps - two wins and three placings from six runs. Last year's National winner Mon Mome has his share of weight as you'd expect but he's made steady progress through the season - Venetia Williams' yard is in better form now - at around 12/1 I'll have an each-way bet.

There are some interesting contenders in the 2.30. Bouggler ran well for a long way when beaten by Tidal Bay at Cheltenham the last time but I note that stable jockey Jack Doyle is on Pause And Clause here. Souffleur's fourth behind Mamlook at Ascot looks good given the winner that day ran fourth in the totesport Trophy at Newbury a week ago; that's the first piece of form Souffleur has shown for some time - I'll take an each-way interest at around 10/1 provided eight go to post.

Wincanton is a speed track - Punjabi is worth taking on with Starluck (6/4) in the Kingwell Hurdle (3.50). Henderson is on record as saying that although the champion is straighter than this time last year, the heavy ground will not suit.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Nicky Henderson came away from Ascot with a four-timer under his belt. Finian's Rainbpow (4/11f) and Burton Port (4/6f) won the first two while Lush Life (7/2) caused something of an upset by claiming the scalp of Menorah and Sprinter Sacre (8/11f) held King Of The Night (100/30)a nose in the bumper.

The equine star of the show was the grey twelve-year-old Monet's Garden (11/2) who showed his younger rivals a clean pair of heels with an outstanding display of jumping to win the feature eased down - what an exceptional horse this is! There was plenty of money for selection Herecomesthetruth, sent off 15/8 favourite. He race prominently in the early stages but once MG went to the front he was always struggling. Harry Findlay said before the race there could be no excuses for the favourite with conditions in his favour; Paul Nicholls' charge lost his place badly a mile or so out and although he rallied to be close enough at the home turn, Ruby had used up too much petrol - the selection faded to come in last of the five finishers.

It was a day to forget for Philip Hobbs - Planet Of Sound (5/2) took a crashing fall in the feature - his suspect jumping didn't stand up to close inspection at this level. Richard Johnson did well to recover and take the ride on Menorah (1/2f) for the same stable in the next. It was something of a curious race - I'm not entirely certain what to make of the form. Two tearways, Prince Buster and Sophies Trophy, came to take up the running midway through. Johnson sent his charge to the head of affairs again four out but the horse put in a tired-looking leap at the last and got done for toe by Lush Life who stayed on best of all from a seemingly unpromising position. This evening Ladbrokes bet 4/5 Dunguib, 8/1 Get Me Out Of Here, 12/1 Menorah for the Supreme Novices'.

In the Haydock feature top weight Our Vic (14/1), another twelve-year-old, had plenty of his better fancied rivals in trouble by trying to make all just as he'd done four weeks ago at this course over a half mile shorter in the Peter Marsh. Turning for home, only Silver By Nature (7/1) could stay with him but up the home straight SBN pulled away, jumping well out of the sticky ground to win most impressively. Selection Mon Mome (14/1) was being pushed along with a full circuit to go - he was outpaced down the back but stayed on to finish sixth. Two more comments on this race - if connections could sort out Ballyfitz's jumping he would surely be some force to reckon with; Welsh National winner Dream Alliance from the Hobbs' yard was never competitive and was pulled up.

I was pleased to see Souffleur (8/1) collect the spoils, particularly after Alice Plunkett had been quick to dismiss his chance on The Morning Line. Tom O'Brien got the selection home (Jim McGrath expected the stewards' inquiry that never came) for which he received a four day careless riding ban. I think the key to this horse when he's in form is a flat track and plenty of give underfoot. He'll be of more interest at Aintree rather than Cheltenham in the coming weeks.

The Wincanton card was abandoned - Henderson will want to give Punjabi a racecourse spin before the Champion and has also told punters to ignore Zaynar's run at Kelso on Thursday. The question is - which one will Barry Geraghty choose to ride?