Friday, November 04, 2011

From Wincanton to Down Royal

You tend to think of Wincanton as something of a speed track but the three miles one and a half furlongs of tomorrow's Badger Ales Trophy will take some getting on ground that is currently described as good to soft, soft in places. There has been plenty of rain around this evening too - a young lady walking home in front of me was carrying a very fetching Paddy Power umbrella which sported the wording '5/1 it blows over' - I wasn't remotely inclined to take the odds.

This year's Badger Ales wouldn't be the best renewal in recent years but it still looks pretty open with 14 set to face the starter. In the past ten years four favourites have obliged (Montifault 11/4 2001; Swansea Bay 2/1 2003; Royal Auclair 7/2jf 2004; Abrigante 15/8 2007) while five winners have been priced in double figures (Swansea Bay 14/1 2002; Iris Bleu 10/1 2005; Parsons Legacy 16/1 2006; Cornish Sett 12/1 2008; Ellerslie George 14/1 2009). In the same time frame no horse has been older than nine when winning so on grounds of age I'm going to discount Madison Du Berlais (the pick of Pipe's two on jockey bookings), Hello Bud and Gone To Lunch. Paul Nicholls won this last year with Meanus Dandy but this year stablemate The Minack is more likely to start favourite according to the layers. I've never been 100% convinced about The Minack after he nearly threw away a Kempton novice hurdle (January 2010) when hitting the front two from home. In a post three weeks ago I said I'd seen Benbane Head touted more times than I'd want to recall over the past year; he made a mistake early doors at Cheltenham in that race and was never really competitive thereafter. I'm tempted to go for a bigger-priced animal in this. At Ascot last weekend Dover's Hill got no further than the second when unseating Aidan Coleman and breaking the jock's collar bone in the process; he could go well provided the fences don't get in the way and a similar comment could apply to Vic Dartnall's course and distance winner Richard's Sundance. This horse went off the boil in the second part of last season so I'm taking plenty on trust here but the yard is flying at the moment (four wins from nine runs since October 21st) - Richard's Sundance each-way at 16/1 is the suggestion.

On paper the Elite looks between Grandouet and Celestial Halo but makes little appeal as a betting medium while I'm undecided about Silviniaco Conti in the novice chase. This is a horse I like but I burnt my fingers a couple of times last year and I'm just wary after he finished third behind Cue Card on his chasing debut. He's bound to come on for that and will be more suited by this trip but he's priced up at short odds in a race that is no foregone conclusion. Mad Moose has more chasing experience than the rest while Jetnova is an Irish pointer and Kilcrea Kim an exciting prospect. This evening Paddy Power offers 5/1 Kilcrea Kim which in my book represents a play against the favourite - Kilcrea Kim is the selection.

At Down Royal in Ireland Noel Fehily rides The Nightingale and Kauto Stone for Paul Nicholls as yesterday Ruby Walsh's lodged appeal against a five-day whip ban was unsuccessful. In today's Times Alan Lee reports that jockeys' leaders have admitted privately that 'their impasse with the BHA is at crisis point after this judgement.'

Seven go in a trappy-looking Champion Chase at 2.20. The two top-rated horses, Sizing Europe and The Nightingale, have yet to win at this distance while Quito De La Roque and Bostons Angel look out and out stayers - judging fitness for this first run won't be easy. Midnight Chase could surprise a few - he ran an excellent fifth in the Gold Cup last March - but he wouldn't want too much rain. Connections decided to bypass last week's Charlie Hall to come here (although I'm not totally convinced this is an easier option.) Midnight Chase is 6/1 with William Hill this evening - I'll take an interest provided the rain stays away.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

The two Nicholls horses had the the finish to the Badger Ales Trophy betweem them - 11/4 favourite The Minack beat last year's winner Meanus Dandy (10/1) half a length; The Minack showed plenty of resolution to keep his stablemate at bay so perhaps I should now forgive the reluctance shown at Kempton back in January 2010. Richard's Sundance (12/1) raced prominently for much of the trip but appeared to tire up the home straight - he failed to make a place, finishing fourth behind Benbane Head.

Paul Nicholls recorded a five-timer at Wincanton with Silviniaco Conti (8/11f) taking the novice chase in some style. Selection Kilcrea Kim (4/1) made a race of it but was clearly coming off second best when losing his action two out; he was quickly pulled up.

The ground at Down Royal (official going - soft) was clearly against Midnight Chase (9/2) and I just wonder whether connections will rue letting him take his chance. His jumping wasn't foot-perfect and he clearly tired in the last half-mile, taking a crashing fall two out. The two top-rated appeared to have the race between them - Sizing Europe went on but ran clean out of petrol on the run-in, allowing Quito De La Roque (11/4f) to record an unlikely victory. After the race trainer Neil Mulholland said Midnight Chase would be better going left-handed on better ground.