Friday, April 27, 2012

The season's finale at Sandown

Tomorrow's mixed card at Sandown marks the end of the the National Hunt season with the highlight the bet365 Gold Cup at 3.10. The going is currently described as soft, good to soft in places (heavy on the Flat course); amongst the twenty declarations are several who were last seen in the Aintree Grand National a fortnight ago. This race has thrown up some big-priced winners in recent years including Bounce Back (14/1 2002); Puntal (25/1 2004); Jack High (16/1 2005); Monkerhostin (25/1 2008); and Church Island (20/1 2010) - no favourite has obliged in the past ten years.

Two that immediately catch the eye are West End Rocker (fell at the second in the National and not allowed to take his chance in last week's Scottish National on account of the ground) and Major Mallarkey who finished second to Master Overseer in the Midlands Grand National seven weeks ago and comes from a stable that is bang in form. The drawback is everyone else is thinking along the same lines so those beasts are near the head of the market as is Le Beau Bai who won the Welsh National on heavy ground last December.

It's the end of term and I've looked around for something to back at a fancy price but to be honest I've struggled so I'll stick with West End Rocker who was my original selection for the National provided the ground came up soft.      

In the Celebration Chase, having had burnt fingers with Wishfull Thinking a couple of times this year, I'm not inclined to be tempted by his apparent return to form in the Melling Chase at Aintree; it's worth noting he has never won over this trip. Last year's winner French Opera deserves every respect but I'm going to side with Somersby. Hen Knight's charge has to concede weight all round but may prove up to the task.

And, of course, it all starts again the very next day at Wetherby where the first race of the new National Hunt season, the National Festival Circus Is Here Today Novices' Hurdle, is due off at two o'clock...

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

With top riders Ruby Walsh, Tony McCoy and Barry Geraghty all riding at Punchestown, it was Paul Nicholls' second jock Daryl Jacob who made the headlines with a high-profile double on Tidal Bay in the Gold Cup and Sanctuaire in the Celebration Chase.

Tidal Bay (9/1) has never been one to trust implicitly but the eleven-year-old put his best foot forward here, bounding up the hill after the last to score by 15 lengths from Roalco De Farges (7/1). Selection West End Rocker (8/1) ran something of a stinker, never travelling a yard and was clearly in trouble with a cirucit to go; he was pulled up after the 14th. After the race trainer Alan King indicated that the Aintree fall had clearly left its mark on his charge; jockey Wayne Hutchinson reported his mount didn't want to go to the start. Subsequently King vowed never to run the horse over the National fences again.

Sanctuaire (9/2), allowed his own way out in front, ran his rivals ragged in the testing ground, jumping cleanly to beat selection Somersby (11/4f) 17 lengths. The winner appeared to tire a little in the closing stages but this was an impressive performance.

I've read somewhere Sanctuaire has been rated 167 (with Sprinter Sacre 169) after this run; if correct, I can't say I'd agree with that interpetation of the form...