Friday, December 09, 2011

The International Hurdle at Cheltenham

A decent card at Cheltenham tomorrow where the feature Spinal Research The Atlantic 4 Gold Cup with 17 runners will generate plenty of bettng activity but I find the International Hurdle at 3.05 much more intriguing. After sending out 5 winners from 10 runners today, Nicky Henderson saddles one of the two four-year-olds in the field, Grandouet. The opposition includes last year's winner Menorah, the four-year-old Greatwood winner Brampour as well as the front-running Overturn who has done this blog a favour in the past couple of weeks with wins at Ascot and Newcastle. I'm loathe to desert Overturn but he's had two tough races in the past three weeks; immediately after the Fighting Fifth connections indicated they would give their charge a break so it's a surprise to see him out again so quickly. There's also a hint he carries out his front running role better on a flat track. I always think this race is a big ask for a four-year-old; in the past decade two have managed to pull off the trick, Detroit City in 2006 and Binocular in 2008. This year on official ratings Grandouet has five pounds in hand over Brampour and Harry Dereham, conditional jockey of the latter-named, can't claim seven pounds in this event. Menorah reverts to hurdles after unseating two from home at Exeter last time with a novice chase at his mercy; his chance is very much respected but 14/1 Clerk's Choice looks too big a price about a horse that finished two lengths behind Menorah in the Champion Hurdle reopposing here on four pounds better terms. There are mitigating circumstances - Menorah has already had that spin at Exeter and Clerk's Choice went to Oliver Sherwood's yard in unfortunate circumstances when the lass who looked after the horse broke her pelvis in an accident. Still, this race has been the target, the quick ground will suit and I still recall the horse bolting up over course and distance fourteen months ago, beating Barizan and Royal Mix in the process. Provided the rain stays away and the eight get to post, Clerk's Choice each-way at around 14/1  is the wager.

In the Relkeel (3.35) Oscar Whisky is the likeliest winner and is likely to start odds-on; in my opinion he's a horse who benefits from cut underfoot. On official ratings Any Given Day has two pounds to find and at 9/2 represents a play against the favourite for those brave enough.

This evening layers are taking differing views on the trappy-looking three mile novice hurdle at 1.55 which Mossley (runs in 12.45) won last year. Paddy Power go 7/4 about Halley while Coral and Ladbrokes offer 7/2. I was interested in Tim Vaughan's Rev It Up but according to his handler the gelding is better on soft ground so I'm going to watch from the sidelines.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

In his race preview on Channel 4 Jim McGrath said Clerk's Choice (14/1) was entitled to go close on his best form so we can assume this effort was well short of that as the selection finished seventh of the eight, beaten over 50 lengths. Clerk's Choice looked ring rusty, losing ground at the hurdles and weakening before the final flight. Grandouet (5/2jf) took the honours in some style and is now quoted as low as 5/1 for the Champion Hurdle next March; Menorah, the other 5/2 joint favourite, rather disappointed back in fourth.

Having taken the feature race with Quantitativeasing, Oscar Whisky (4/9f) added to his trainer's tally in the finale although Get Me Out Of Here (8/1) threw down a strong challlenge after the last. 15/2 chance Any Given Day couldn't land a blow on the leaders and finished fourth of the five.