Friday, October 26, 2012

Brief thoughts on Saturday's NH cards

Three National Hunt cards tomorrow with the Old Roan Chase the highlight at Aintree, yet top jockeys Ruby Walsh, Aidan Coleman and 'Choc' Thornton choose to ride at Chepstow while champion AP McCoy settles for Stratford.

Eleven go in the Old Roan, where only one favourite has obliged in the previous eight runnings while a horse aged nine or older has won on six occasions in the same timeframe (Monet's Garden three times). Paul Nicholls' five-year-old Pacha Du Polder has a few novice chases under his belt (three wins, one unplaced and one unseated rider) and may struggle against more experienced opponents; the only runner not making his seasonal debut is Mahogany Blaze who could therefore be a little sharper than some of his rivals. I've a soft spot for Nacarat who has done this blog one or two favours over the years and tends to show his best on good ground but this renewal looks particularly tricky so I'm not going to play - much will depend on fitness. In spite of the stats, I'd expect the winner to come from the younger brigade.

Previously with Guillaume Macaire, the four-year-old Unioniste carries John Hales' colours (remember Azertyuiop?) and, having already won a chase at Auteuil, will be a popular choice for the 4.35, a race the Nicholls stable has won on three occasions since 2004. Having said that, he's unlikely to have things all his own way - Carlito Brigante won at Cheltenham last Saturday. This one wouldn't be guaranteed to reproduce that effort one week on but this sharp track should suit his style of running.

2011 Northumberland Plate winner Tominator held a five-day entry in the Aintree finale but connections have decided the grey will make his hurdling debut elsewhere.

The Persian War (3.40 Chepstow) sees Nicholls' Wonderful Charm make his debut in this country. The gelding has been well-touted for some time - in Mark Howard's One Jump Ahead bloodstock agent Anthony Bromley is quoted as saying '[Wonderful Charm is] one of the best young prospects I have managed to get out of France in recent years.' Aidan Coleman rode a fine race from the front to steal a listed novice hurdle at Kempton on Hawkhill six days ago but he prefers Anthony Honeyball's Ballybough Pat here. This one has surprised connections and won 15 days ago at Carlisle - I'll take the chance against the favourite provided he's priced 9/2 or bigger.

As always, the Silver Trophy (4.15) is most competitive. The one that catches my eye at a price is Robinson Collonges. Rated 134, he races off the same mark as when third behind Arthurian Legend in this last year. After that, he went off the rails over the larger obstacles but I'm banking on new handler Harry Fry working some magic. The stable has had a couple of winners in the past week and connections try a toungie-tie on their charge for the first time - at 10/1 (Ladbrokes) Robinson Collonges is worth an each-way interest. I also looked at Rebecca Curtis' Meganisi but in this week's Weekender the trainer tells readers she thinks two and a half miles may be 'a little too far for him as he has bags of speed'.

Following a break, Roc De Guye ran well for a long way at Huntingdon last time before fading to finish seventh. He was dropped another four pounds for that effort and goes in the 3.55 at Stratford where the shorter trip and Timmy Murphy in the saddle should help. He rates an each-way chance if priced in double figures.

Punters sat up and took note of new trainer John Ferguson last season. Printmaker goes in Stratford's 4.30 but was sent off 11/8 favourite last time and disappointed. The stable hasn't had a winner since October 10th, recording thirteen consecutive losses.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

For Non Stop (4/1jf) won the Old Roan at Aintree in most impressive style but at the moment I'm a little wary about taking the form too literally; Unioniste (6/5f) took the novice chase.

At Chepstow selection Ballybough Pat (4/1) led two out but had no answer to the pace of 8/11 favourite Wonderful Charm on the flat, going down six lengths.

That effort was certainly better than Robinson Collonges' (16/1) in the next - he come home plum last of the thirteen runners, weakening dramatically three from home. This turned into something of a triumph for Philip Hobbs who trained the first three home - Pricewise selection Lamb Or Cod (7/2) beat last year's winner Arthurian Legend (4/1) a neck with stablemate Tony Star (10/1) a neck further behind in third.

No fancy prices about Roc De Guye at Stratford but he obliged in somewhat fortunate circumstances at odds of 100/30. Taking up the running three out, he was passed by Full Ov Beans (3/1f) before two out who looked to have done the necessary before coming to grief at the last.