Friday, November 19, 2010

Haydock or Ascot?

Tomorrow's feature at Haydock is the Betfair Chase (3.25) in which Gold Cup holder Imperial Commander returns following the summer break. Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies feels his charge is further forward than this time last year when the gelding was beaten a nose by Kauto Star in this very race. I've watched that finish several times and still find it difficult to believe Kauto held on; Kauto goes straight to Kempton this year in an attempt to win a record-breaking fifth King George. On official ratings Imperial Commander has 22 pounds in hand over his nearest rival Planet Of Sound - the race doesn't make that much appeal as a betting medium. What A Friend, part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson, has an awkward head carriage but is in no way ungenuine and may yet develop into a serious Gold Cup contender; it looks as though Sam Thomas prefers this one over Charlie Hall winner Nacarat who I always feel tends to show his very best form on good ground. Philip Hobbs' Planet Of Sound surprised a few (myself included) when taking the Guinness Gold Cup at Punchestown in April although there is a slight query about that form with old-timer War Of Attrition in second and Denman failing to run to his mark. There was also a question mark over Planet Of Sound's jumping in his younger days and I'm still not totally convinced. A race to savour and enjoy rather than bet on; Imperial Commander is taken to oblige.

Smallish fields are the order of the day in several of the other Haydock races. On ratings Dunraven Storm is the pick in the opener but Toubab has very smart form to his name while Clerk's Choice can't be opposed in the 1.50 but will be no price whatsoever. I'm tempted to risk Toubab at around 3/1 on the back of his fourth at this track in the Swinton and his second behind subsequent Triumph winner Soldatino in the Adonis at Kempton. In addition Dunraven Storm ran second to Cue Card just eight days ago at Cheltenham and may not have had time to fully recover.

The Coral Hurdle at Ascot is intriguing. This evening the books have Zaynar 6/4 favourite with both Karabak and Silviniaco Conti 4/1. On ratings the former, a course and distance winner, has every chance and looks a value play at the price while the latter has looked very quick at the obstacles in two novice hurdles. The other value play for me is Restless Harry who is hugely talented but pretty highly strung. Jockey Henry Oliver can consider himself lucky to have kept the ride after missing the start at Chepstow the last time and then, according to the handler, giving the horse no sort of chance at all. The gelding is known to have an aversion to travelling but if he gets to the start in one piece, 14/1 with Stan James a quarter the odds a place looks decent each-way value provided, of course, the eight declared all run. Selections: Karabak win, Restless Harry each-way.

Those thinking Master Minded is a source of easy money in the Amlin 1965 Chase (2.05) should note the horse has never won at the trip. Albertas Run would have been the play had the ground been quicker but I'll watch from the sidelines.

Finally a quick pointer to Aidan Coleman's blog post at where the jock has a good word for Venetia Williams' Quartz de Thaix who runs in the 1.30 at Aintree on Sunday.


GeeDee said...

Imperial Commander (10/11f) took the Betfair Chase while Toubab took the opener at 7/2. Clerk's Choice (even money) disappointed with connections later blaming the testing ground.

At Ascot Silviniaco Conti (100/30) was a revelation in the Ascot hurdle; he finished a seemingly effortless 7 lengths ahead of Karabak (3/1) while Restless Harry (9/1) claimed third spot for each-way backers.

Master Minded (5/6f) won, jumping most fluently and seeming to have the measure of Albertas Run when that one fell three from home.

Those who took Aidan Coleman's hint will be on jolly good terms with themselves - Aidan made all on Quart De Thaix (14/1) who carried top weight to victory in the handicap hurdle.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the heads up from Aidan's column. Read it last night and put it on my blog too. Nice return!

GeeDee said...

Not a problem, Mully; he gave the horse an excellent ride, especially carrying top weight on soft ground.