Friday, March 05, 2010

Doncaster's Grimthorpe Chase

The penultimate Saturday before Cheltenham and everyone seems to have half an eye on the Festival races... This afternoon trainer Nicky Henderson confirmed that former RSA favourite Punchestowns has a problem with his near-fore - stable companion Long Run now heads that market, priced up at just 2/1 by both totepsort and Ladbrokes. In a separate development Binocular, having been ruled out of the Champion Hurdle a couple of weeks ago with a muscle problem, may now take his chance - his participation depends on a workout next week.

The going at Doncaster tomorrow is described as good, good to soft in places - the first piece of decent ground we've seen for a while.

The feature is the highly-competitive three and a quarter mile Grimthorpe Chase for which fifteen have been declared; many of the field, including former National winner Comply Or Die and Aintree regular Cloudy Lane, will see the race as a trial for this year's four and a half mile marathon in April. Henry Daly's Possol could well start favourite as he's likely to appreciate the better ground but he has his fair share of weight; in addition, favourites have a miserable record in this - no wins in the past seven renewals. Rather than turn out here connections of the progressive Sa Suffit have opted to go to Kelso for the Premier Chase (which could be considered a tip in itself, although I note the gelding hasn't won beyond two and a half miles). Two that would be a danger if returning to form are Charlie Mann's Air Force One and Howard Johnson's Killyglen while Gidam Gidam's victory here last time over four miles would suggest that one needs a real test of stamina - the drying ground may not suit. For me Coe has disappointed once too often in recent weeks but at the bottom end of the handicap former Eider winner Merigo is worth a second look - he finished second in a hurdle race at Warwick three weeks ago but was disqualified as jockey Dougie Costello failed to draw the correct weight. Wogan doesn't have many miles on the clock but former Scottish National winner Iris De Balme will need to build on a reasonable return over hurdles after a long spell on the sidelines. The market has proved a decent guide in the past with the winner starting second, third or fourth favourite on six occasions in the last seven runnings - of the top four Iris De Balme makes most appeal at around 10/1 and looks worth an each-way interest but my money will be on Merigo at odds of 12/1 or bigger.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Daldini took them along at a fair gallop from the outset in the Grimthorpe with the result that they were strung out from an early stage. Comply Or Die having been withdrawn, Timmy Murphy took the ride on the selection Merigo (16/1). He raced handily enough for a circuit or so but was badly outpaced a mile out and came home well beaten in sixth. The finish was fought out between Wogan (5/1) and Killyglen (16/1) with the former taking the spoils in determined fashion despite taking some chances with his jumping up the home straight. This represented a return to form for Killyglen wearing cheekpieces for the first time - he doesn't look entirely straightforward. 4/1 favourite Possol never went a yard and was pulled up on the second circuit but an improved show from Coe in third while Cloudy Lane ran a respectable National trial in fourth.