Friday, March 04, 2011

North and South selections

With Cheltenham a little over a week away, I'm never quite sure what to make of the intervening Saturday cards...

Newbury's meeting in support of Greatwood tops the bill but it looks a jolly difficult card with 17 set to contest the highlight, the Wiltshire County Show Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase. If I had to nominate one at the meeting, I'd keep a look out for Benbane Head in the opener. This one was put up by Peter Naughton as a free tip for the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham five weeks ago. In the event the chestnut gelding was declared a non-runner but he holds Festival entries in the World Hurdle and the Pertemps Final. Naughton had thought Keighley's charge was destined for the Albert Bartlett but the handler seems quite sweet on stablemate Champion Court for that particular event. It's worth noting that Barry Geraghty rides two for Henderson, Silicium and Oasis Knight, at Kempton before dashing to Newbury where he rides another two for Henderson and Gus Macrae for Rebecca Curtis. McCoy travels in the opposite direction, riding four at Newbury before travelling to Kempton to partner Nomansland for, er, Nicky Henderson!

11 go in the feature at Doncaster, the Grimthorpe Handicap Chase at 3.15. The going is described as good and a few of these are likely to appreciate the better ground including Ogee, Merigo, Character Building and favourite Presenting Forever whose trainer Howard Johnson fears former charge Killyglen. In an open event I'll take a small each-way interest in Character Building. At the age of 11 there's a suspicion his best years could be behind him but the stable are in fine form at the moment; Coral, Hill and Stan James offer 14/1 this evening which is bigger than most prices on the exchanges. In the Weekender Alan King has a word for Montbazon in the bumper (4.25) - he was expecting a strong challenge from Paul Nicholls' Broomfield but that one goes in the finale at Newbury and could represent a play against likely favourite Hit The Headlines there. On the back of comments made in a stable tour article last month, I'm going to forgive Colin Tizzard's Theatrical Star his last effort at Hereford and take an each-way interest provided the price is big enough.

At Kelso the Trevor Hemmings owned BallaBriggs, currently second in the market for this year's National, is favoured by the race conditions and is the one to beat in the 3.40 but he's priced accordingly. Jimmy Moffat's stats for the season make grim reading with just one win from 92 runs but the handler seems bullish enough about his charge Chief Dan George - at around 11/2 I'll take the chance. In the 4.15 Storm Brig has three pounds to find with Desert Cry on official ratings but I prefer Alistair Whillans' bay in what looks a competitive event.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

With Cheltenham just around the corner a tally of one winner from thirteen runners yesterday will have been enough to have given Nicky Henderson a restless night... Silicium (4/9f), Oasis Knight(2/1f), Nomansland (5/4f) and Hit The Headlines (11/8) were all soundly beaten.

Plenty of money beforehand for Benbane Head (11/2) in the opener; given a hold-up ride on the tacky ground, he could never get competitive and came home fifth, wandering under pressure up the long Newbury straight.

They went hard from the start in the Grimthorpe but the nature of the race changed when Presenting Forever fell five out, badly hampering Minella Four Star in the process. Always Right (9/2f) just held off the determined challenge of Lothian Falcon (33/1) with Character Building (9/1) staying on past beaten horses to claim third spot.

Mountbazon (13/8f) took the bumper while Theatrical Star (14/1) ran a pleasing enough race but weakened a furlong out to finish sixth of the eighteen runners.

At Kelso a brave effort from Chief Dan George (9/2) who was there with every chance three out before weakening at the last. Skippers Brig (3/1) caused the upset, beating hotpot Ballabriggs (8/13f) one and threequarter lengths.

Storm Brig(6/4f) though was terribly disappointing, never featuring and finishing well down the field in seventh. Bold Sir Brian(20/1) beat Desert Cry (9/4) three and threequarter lengths.