Friday, February 11, 2011

Quick thoughts on Newbury, Warwick & Leopardstown

Punchestowns took the Graduation Chase at Kempton earlier today and in the process helped Nicky Henderson reach 2,000 career wins but for much of the trip the 4/6 favourite looked in trouble behind the front-running Pasco. However the grey slowed markedly up the home straight thereby allowing Barry Geraghty to galvanise his mount to an improbable eleven length victory. Pasco finished distressed in second; after the race trainer Paul Nicholls sent out a tweet indicating the grey had choked and would be sent for a breathing operation in due course.

Newbury hosts a top class card tomorrow, the totesport Trophy Hurdle at 3.35 the big betting race of the day. With twenty three set to face the starter, several layers bet each-way a quarter the odds five places including sponsors totesport, Sky Bet and Paddy Power. Since 1980 seven winners have carried more than 11 stones - Grey Salute (1989); Deep Sensation (1990); Make A Stand (1997); Sharpical (1998); Geos (2000); Copeland (2002) and Essex (2005). In that period no horse has won carrying more than 11-7, an ominous-looking stat for a number of fancied chances near the top of the handicap. David Pipe's pair, Ronaldo Des Mottes and Notus De La Tour, caught my eye. The former was second in this last year but has an additional twelve pounds on his back this time while Notus De LaTour has had this as his main target for the season. This evening Notus is 16/1 with Coral while Ronaldo is 22/1 with bet365 who bet five places. In an impossible race, I'm going to have an each-way dabble on Evan Williams' Tarkari who had a warm-up at Ffos Las last week. Formerly with Willie Mullins, Tarkari is generally available at 25/1, although I note stable jockey Paul Moloney has opted to ride Tiger O'Toole...

Six in the Game Spirit but it looks trappy now pre-race favourite Woolcombe Folly has been withdrawn following a bad scope. I'll side with French Opera provided the rain stays away.

The Aon looks between Riverside Theatre, part-owned by actor James Nesbitt and What A Friend, part-owned by Sir Alex Ferguson. The Manchester United manager may be known for winning but his horse faces a stiff task here conceding four pounds to an opponent officially rated nine pounds higher. Riverside Theatre hasn't won at this trip but his performance behind Long Run in the King George appears to have dispelled any lingering fears...

Keeping up the footballing connection, Harry Redknapp owns Bygones In Brid who takes his chance in the bumper. Trainer Alan King put this one up as one to monitor a few weeks ago but since then the gelding missed an intended engagement at Wincanton as connections weren't totally happy. He runs here but is probably best watched on this occasion (a comment that could apply to Harry's team, Tottenham Hotspur, perhaps?)

Only three in the 4.05 but I'd be tempted to take a chance on Philip Hobbs' Tarablaze following reports the gelding was backed earlier today for the RSA Chase at the Festival next month. In a RP stable tour article published last October the handler said '... he's certainly one we are very much looking forward to.' Coral are currently best-priced 33/1 about Tarablaze for the Cheltenham showpiece.

At Warwick four go in the Kingmaker where current Arkle favourite Finian's Rainbow will be expected to collect the spoils. Writing in the Weekender handler Colin Tizzard is bullish enough about Kilmurry. This one gave Ghizao eight pounds and an eleven length beating at Cheltenham in October but the form was dramatically reversed four weeks later. Tizzard tells us to ignore that defeat as the horse returned with a problem. He's been off since and is likely to need this, especially with the stable struggling to emerge from a quiet spell, but he's currently 33/1 for the Arkle (William Hill) which makes some appeal each-way.

At Leopardstown Quel Espirt is a play against enigmatic favourite Mikael D'haguenet in the Dr. P. J. Moriarty Novice Chase while in the Hennessy totesport's 9/1 about joint top-rated China Rock looks worth an each-way interest.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Unprecedented scenes at Newbury as two horses, Fenix Two and Marching Song, collapsed and died in the parade ring before the first. On investigation the cause apppears to have been electrocution - it is thought a cable may have been disturbed during recent routine maintenenace work at the track. A third horse, Kid Cassidy, was lucky to escape serious injury. Al Ferof (1/4f) took the race but the remainder of the card was rightly abandoned as the seriousness of the accident became apparent.

Further sad news to report, this time from Warwick where Kilmurry (13/2),despite a mistake at the seventh, was in the process of giving Finian's Rainbow (2/5f) a run for his money when he went wrong after jumping the penultimate fence. The gelding had to be put down later.

At Leopardstown 2/1 chance Quel Esprit was ridden but was still in
with a shout when taking a praticularly nasty-looking fall two from home. 11/10 favourite Mikael D'haguenet could only finish third behind Bostons Angel (8/1) and Magnanimity (6/1). The favourite is no natural over the larger obstacles and has been withdrawn from the RSA market by layers - I suspect connections will go away and review their options.

Plenty of money for selection China Rock during the morning. He opened 6/1 on course and went off a 4/1 chance. Clear two out, he looked the most likely winner and a certainty to finish in the first three but the chestnut gelding ran out of petrol and paid a heavy price, coming home fourth, some 16 lengths behind winner Kempes (5/1). There was a suggestion after the race that jockey Paul Carberry set sail for home too soon but it's more likely they'd gone a bit quick up front on the ground. For the record China Rock won over two miles seven on good ground at Punchestown last October but he failed to stay here over three miles on heavy. Kempes is now 20/1 with William Hill for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.