Friday, October 22, 2010

Jumpers from the top drawer for Aintree and Chepstow

Some well-known jumpers look set to return to the fray tomorrow...

At Aintree Alan King's Mille Chief will be a warm order in the opener. This one was ante-post favourite for the Triumph last spring but missed the race due to injury. In this week's Weekender King tells us his charge has 'grown significantly' and states '...I could not be more pleased with his progress...' This is far from a one horse race though; Westlin' Winds put up an eye-catching performance to take third at Chepstow a fortnight ago while Philip Hobbs' Nearby surprised his handler by winning at Bangor, although on that day the challenging Rebel Dancer fell at the last when in with every chance.

Only six in the Roan Chase at 3.25 but it looks difficult to call with three course and distance winners in the field, including last year's winner, the front-running grey Monet's Garden. Good ground is the key to Albertas Run who has won first time out four times in the past five seasons while Barry Geraghty takes the ride on Poquelin for the Nicholls stable as Ruby Walsh is serving a one-day suspension. Tom George's Tartak was a major disappointment when sent off favourite for this last year - I distinctly remember the colt's jumping disintegrating as I watched. On RP ratings Tartak is well clear of his rivals; this year connections have done more with their charge and have been quite bullish. The layers appear undecided this evening, but a couple have Tartak 5/2 favourite while Albertas Run is 7/2. At those prices Albertas Run looks the value play provided the rain stays away.

Just four in the novice chase at 5.10 but all eyes will be on Alan King's Medermit who tries chasing for the first time. Betfred and Stan James have this one 8/1 favourite for the Arkle next spring - in the Weekender the handler reports his charge '...has done a fair bit of schooling and looks the part.' A speed track such as Aintree wouldn't be my idea of the best place to start a chasing career but others in the field make little appeal. The J P McManus owned Rock Noir found disappointingly little when appearing to be running all over Cockney Trucker at Huntingdon while Wessex King gives six pounds to all his opponents.

At Chepstow the Persian War Novices' Hurdle at 3.35 should prove informative. On official ratings Captain Chris is the one they have to beat and will be priced accordingly. Connections want to run here but they want rain as well and as a precaution have left the Presenting gelding in the 4.30 at Aintree on Sunday (in which Cheltenham bumper winner Cue Card also holds an entry). Silviniaco Conti goes chasing after this while Alan King has always been very keen on Lidar and is hoping for 'a big improvement' for this step up to two and a half miles. On the exchanges this evening Lidar is priced up around 14/1 - if that price materialises tomorrow Lidar offers decent each-way value while Nicky Henderson's Cavite Beta could be anything.

The Silver Trophy run thrity five minutes later is very competitive. In a recent RP stable tour article Philip Hobbs described Duke Of Lucca as a 'really exciting prospect' while Restless Harry, a favourite of mine, tends to show his best with plenty of cut underfoot. Tullamore Dew's second in the Coral Cup at the Festival reads well but it's difficult to gauge how far forward Nick Gifford's string is.

Finally in the opener I'll consider taking a chance with Tim Vaughan's Bens Moor provided the price looks reasonable. In a recent Weekender article the trainer said of his charge, 'He is a gorgeous big horse who is massively exciting.'


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GeeDee said...

A summary of the initial post might read something like - a number of handlers point out their fancies for the season ahead. Two days on and if there's one word that summarises the common theme, it's disappointing.

Mille Chief (100/30f) finished fifth behind Nearby (8/1), while Lidar (20/1) was pulled up in the Persian War Novices' Hurdle behind Silviniaco Conti (7/2) whose quick hurdling had Captain Chris (7/4f) beaten some way out. Duke of Lucca (5/1jf) was tailed off in the Silver Trophy while Bens Moor (4/1) finished in a completely different parish behind Alverstone (7/2).

The Old Roan Chase went to 4/1 chance Monet's Garden. The grey wasn't to be denied and repelled a strong challenge from Poquelin (7/2) by half a length. The good to soft ground probably went against selection Albertas Run - reflected in the fact he was allowed to go off at 11/2; he finished a well-beaten fourth. The big disappointment here was Tartak (15/8f) who is unlikely to get a better chance at the weights to beat these. His jumping let him down, much as it did last year; he looks one to avoid until the problems in that department have been ironed out.

Medermit (1/5f) obliged but it was a bloodless victory and there were a couple of scares along the way; he didn't get very high at some of the obstacles which could prove troublesome in the future.