Friday, November 23, 2012

Two for Haydock and two for Ascot this Sautrday

Tomorrow's weather forecast does not look promising; the likelihood is more rain will fall at both Ascot and Haydock. Two handlers dominated the entries at those two courses today - Nicky Henderson recorded a treble at Ascot (Minella Class 7/4f, Close Touch 4/7f and Petit Robin 15/8f) while Donald McCain had to be content with just the one winner at Haydock (Clondaw Kaempfer 6/5f).

Haydock's highlight tomorrow is the Betfair Chase at 3.05; six are set to face the starter. The 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Long Run makes his seasonal reappearance and has at least ten pounds in hand over his rivals. Long Run never quite hit the same heights last season, there has always been a question surrounding his jumping and connections have indicated the going is a worry so I'm going to oppose the favourite. In the most recent renewal of the Gold Cup The Giant Bolster finished ahead of Long Run while Weird Al, who would have a chance on his very best form, was pulled up having broken a blood vessel. David Bridgwater says he'll be pleased if The Giant Bolster can finish within ten lengths of Long Run tomorrow which would suggest the gelding is likely to improve for the outing although a quote from the handler in today's Times is interesting: 'It's a 200 grand race on Saturday and he's not going there half-fit.' At 9/4, I'll take a chance with Charlie Hall winner Silviniaco Conti. Connections have also expressed reservations about the ground for this one but he blew away the cobwebs and the opposition with victory at Wetherby and may have a fitness advantage over those making their seasonal debuts; in addition Ruby Walsh is a major plus compared to Mr Sam Waley-Cohen who has ridden in just four races so far this season. In the last seven renewals, the market leader has obliged on four occasions.

Saphir River interests me in the fixed brush hurdle at 2.30; this one came over from France into Michael Scudamore's yard earlier in the year at a cost of 280,000 euros. He was sent off a 50/1 chance for the Coral Cup at Cheltenham but unshipped Sam Thomas at the second. He then ran fourth at odds of 33/1 in a listed handicap hurdle at Aintree four weeks later. Over the summer break he moved north to join Lucinda Russell (whose partner happens to be Peter Scudamore, Michael's father) and started this season in fine style taking a beginners' chase at Uttoxeter at the beginning of the month. He should be competitive reverting to (brush) hurdles - I'll have an each-way wager if I can obtain around the 8/1 mark.

Over at Ascot sponsors Coral will be desperately disappointed with a turnout of just four for the feature Coral Hurdle; Oscar Whisky fell at the last last year and bids to make amends this time around but he'll be no price. If Haydock is on, there will only be four left in the Amlin Chase (2.10) in which Queen Mother Champion chase winner Finian's Rainbow makes his seasonal reapperance. He looked a little lucky to collect the spoils last March but went on from there to take the Melling Chase at Aintree. Under race conditions Captain Chris is the next best in the field and had Finian's two and threequarter lengths behind in the 2011 Arkle (Ghizao fifth). Philip Hobbs' charge had a miserable time of it last year; if he's back to his best, he can make a race of this receiving weight from his rivals (six pounds from the favourite). He's better right-handed but doesn't appreciate the ground too soft which is a negative. Captain Chris (4/1 Ladbrokes this evening) is a speculative sugggestion against Finian's Rainbow.

Aidan Coleman has already won on Quartz De Thaix this season (priced up favourite for the 2.00 at Haydock) but Aidan prefers to ride at Ascot instead where I guess he thinks the mare Pepite Rose is his best chance of a winner. Fences looked to be the making of this five-year-old last year and she started this seaon with a noteworthy third in the listed Byrne Group handicap chase three weeks ago. For those interested, it's Coral who offer the value this evening at 4/1.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Ruby Walsh controlled the Haydock feature from the front and kept enough up his sleeve on Silviniaco Conti (7/4) to repel Long Run (11/8f) two and a half lengths with the Giant Bolster (15/2) third. Weird Al (11/2) ran a weird race in rear and was outpaced as they came to the home turn but then stayed on stoutly to finish just a short-head behind The Giant Bolster.

Saphir River (10/1) was a disappointment. He likes to be held up in rear , but he failed to make any headway and finished in the rear, beating just one home.

At Ascot the ground was heavy so I was pleasantly surprised to see Captain Chris (7/2) come home ahead of For Non Stop with Finian's Rainbow (5/6f) struggling to get competitive after a mistake at the ninth. The favourite got tired at the last and was allowed to come home in his own time.

The ground took its toll on the mare Pepite Rose (100/30) however as she was badly outpaced at the business end, finishing fifth behind William's Wishes. This was a decent effort from Evan Williams' charge on his first run for 22 months; he looks worth keeping an eye on in the coming months.