Friday, January 28, 2011

Festival Trials Day

Inspections have been called for tomorrow's three turf cards at Cheltenham (8.45 am), Doncaster (7.30 am) and Uttoxeter (8.00am). One of the features at Cheltenham's Festival Trials Day is the Argento Chase at 2.30 in which six are set to face the starter (although Taranis is declared doubtful this evening); the disappointment is that current RSA Chase favourite Time For Rupert misses this after contracting a mild infection. Punchestowns is likely to head the market depsite being beaten a head by Pride Of Dulcote the last time; that race was run in a fast time and, writing in the Weekender, Nick Mordin states he 'won't hear of defeat for him [Punchestowns]'. On official ratings Tidal Bay is the best horse but you couldn't depend on him to put his best foot forward while Coral's 10/1 about Neptune Collonges would have looked big once upon a time but the grey has been out of sorts in two runs this term following 18 months on the sidelines. The Tother One is a tricky hold-up sort of a ride so I'm wondering whether McCoy may try to make all on Neptune Collonges... I'm not overly confident about Punchestowns who doesn't have that much chase form to his name - I'm not going to play.

Sixteen declared for the Cleeve at 3.35 in which Tidal Bay beat Time For Rupert five lengths last year. Tom Scudamore has been particularly bullish about Grand Crus, pointing out he thinks this one can give Big Buck's a run for his money in the World Hurdle come March. If that's to come about, the grey will need to take this and he may just prefer a bit more juice in the ground. Plenty have tipped up Alan King's Bensalem but I'll have an each-way wager at 10/1 on Restless Harry, a favourite of mine. Two in the field worth monitoring - Knockara Beau, fifth in the Neptune two years ago but one who really hasn't progressed as one would have hoped over the larger obstacles and Benbane Head, a free tip put up by Peter Naughton. Peter advises only a small interest in this race (80/1 with William Hill) but tells us Benbane Head is one to bear in mind for later in the season - the tipster has already backed Martin Keighley's charge for the Albert Bartlett at the Festival.

Another disappointment is that Alan King's Smad Place misses the opener on account of an unsatisfactory scope. Steve Gollings, trainer of Local Hero, is set to find out how good his charge is tomorrow - AP McCoy thinks the gelding has 'a serious engine'. Colin Tizzard fields the likely favourite in Third Intention but the yard hasn't had a winner since January 2nd. Local Hero looks the percentage call but in search of a bit of value I'm tempted to take a chance with Paul Nicholls' French import Indian Daudaie provided he's priced up 4/1 or bigger.

Sky Bet go 9/1 about another of my favourites, The Giant Bolster, who is set to carry top weight in the novices' handicap chase - I'll take an each-way interest.

The going at Doncaster is good, good to firm in places. I fancied Rose Of The Moon in the 2.45 but those damned bookie chappies have priced up Milton Harris' grey the 11/4 favourite. If Doncaster is called off, the gelding will be re-routed to the Neptune at Cheltenham - Coral offer 14/1 for that race which makes far more appeal from a betting perspective.

In the feature, the Sky Bet Chase, my two against the field are two that have featured in this blog in recent weeks. I considered I'moncloudnine for the Welsh National three weeks ago but was put off by the trainer's comments that his charge operates better on better ground. In the circumstances I'moncloudnine ran better than expected finishing third and will have underfoot conditions to suit here. King Fontaine was the suggestion for last week's abandoned Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock; the Trevor Hemmings owned gelding looks to hold every chance in this competitive event and handler Malcolm Jefferson boasts a 30% strike-rate in the past fortnight. I'll bet King Fontaine each-way at 12/1 with the sponsors who pay five places provided 18 make it to the start.

To finish, allow me to suggest a fantasy 'grey' treble for the dreamers amongst you...

Neptune Collonges (2.30 Cheltenham)
Rose Of The Moon (2.45 Doncaster / 3.05 Cheltenham)
Grand Crus (3.35 Cheltenham)

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

There were plenty brave enough to take a chance with Neptune Collonges as the grey was backed in from 10/1 in the morning to 11/2at the off. McCoy's mount made the most of his soft lead to hold Tidal Bay (5/2) one and a quarter lengths at the finish. Punchestowns (11/10f) finished a further 30 lengths adrift in third and appeared to have issues with his jumping but in a post-race interview Barry Geraghty said he was pleased with the jumping and the horse had taken a blow.

Grand Crus (2/1f) took the Cleeve in the manner of a very good horse. Knockara Beau (33/1) came home second a head in front of selection Restless Harry (7/1) in third. Benbane Head was a non-runner.

A decent enough effort from Indian Daudie (5/1) coming home third on his first run in this country behind Local Hero (15/8f) and Third Intention.

Plenty of money for selection The Giant Bolster (5/1) and Rodi Greene rode a fine race to take the spoils. Greene was hard at work some way out but he had a willing partner; the pairing were third jumping two out and went to the front after the last - a thrilling race.

With Doncaster abandoned, Rose Of The Moon (16/1) was re-routed but spoilt the fantasy grey treble with a disappointing performance in the Neptune. Having been beaten two and a quarter lengths by Bobs Worth the last time, he finished twenty seven and a half lengths behind the same winner here. The gelding was never travelling, his hurdling slipshod on occasions and he was one of the first beaten, trailling home in eighth.