Friday, April 01, 2011

Calm before the storm?

Tomorrow's media focus will be on the William Hill Lincoln, a race I've tended to avoid as I've always thought it something of a lottery. However I note four favourites have obliged in the past ten years and two other winners have come from the top three in the market, so perhaps it's time for a re-think. In the same timeframe only two have carried more than nine stones to victory - Babodana (9-10) in 2004 and Penitent (9-2) last year - while six four-year-olds have collected and six have won from a single-figure draw. I've heard one whisper during the week- for Richard Fahey's Our Joe Mac - but I see stable jockey Paul Hanagan prefers Irish Heartbeat. Old habits die hard - I'm not going to play.

The two NH cards on offer have a decidedly low-key look, but this time next week everyone will be talking about the Grand National. The jumps story to grab today's headlines has been Paddy Brennan's decision to quit as Nigel Twiston-Davies' top jockey. Those who have followed Alan Lee's comments in The Times will not have been surprised by this news as the scribe has dropped several hints to this effect over the past couple of months. Today's Racing Post quotes Brennan as making a reference to 'blood being thicker than water'; Brennan will keep the ride on 2010 Gold Cup winner Imperial Commander.

Ruby Walsh rides three for Nicholls at Chepstow tomorrow including Twist Pistol in the opener but on ratings Caroline Keevil's Bally Legend is not without a chance in that race. The gelding was well-beaten in a Newbury handicap last time but back in novice company here he looks worth an each-way wager at around the 10/1 mark - Ian Popham claims a valuable three pounds. Super Directa gives weight to all in the 3.20, never easy on soft ground, and he trailled in fifth on his only start over this trip at Fakenham on New Year's Day. I wouldn't be tempted at a short price but it's difficult to make a case for several of the others.

In the 4.25 course winner R De Rien Sivola doesn't have that many miles on the clock and some smart novice hurdle form to her name but she fell in a Hereford handicap chase the last time. Returning to hurdles here she has six pounds in hand on her chase rating; priced 5/1 favourite in the tissue she makes some appeal in a difficult-looking event.

Plenty will think David Pipe's E Street Boy a handicap snip in the Bridgend Designer Outlet Handicap Hurdle but he'll be priced accordingly and  both Speedy Directa and Gainsborough's Art won last time out. Crackerjac Boy ran well here three weeks ago and looks an each-way play against the favourite at around 10/1.

Aidan Coleman has a mention for Venetia Williams' two runners on his blog - Rileyev is an obvious call in the two mile handicap chase at 5.30 but he clearly expects improvement from Emperor's Choice in what looks a better than average bumper. I'll have a small each-way bet at 12/1 or bigger.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

It was Arthurian Legend (16/1)rather than Bally Legend (11/2) that took the opener. The selection had every chance two out but finished fifth, beaten under two lengths.

Super Directa (4/5f) won easily but R Rien De Sivola (8/1) ran a lifeless race and was beaten out of sight.

E Street Boy (4/6f) landed the odds with the minimum of fuss but Crackerjac Boy (25/1) was a spent force four from home and was pulled up. A return to some semblance of form for Big Knickers noted here.

Surprised to see Rileyev sent off7/2 - that was the value play and the gelding held 7/4f Quipe Me Posted over three lengths at the finish. That was a brave effort conceding five pounds on soft ground to the runner-up.

Emperor's Choice was a non-runner but looks worth keeping in mind for the future.