Friday, November 09, 2012

Wincanton whims

Paul Nicholls has won the Badger Ales Trophy (Wincanton 3.25) four times in the past ten years but likely favourite Michel Le Bon isn't one I'm particularly keen on. The nine-year-old doesn't have a lot of miles on the clock but has the look of a horse that has proved difficult to train. Last season he was a disappointment in the Hennessy and was then pulled up in Kempton's Racing Post Chase before obliging over the smaller obstacles at Cheltenham in April. If Michel Le Bon is fragile, Diamond Harry is notoriously so; on his best form it would be foolish to discount the top weight but he hasn't won since taking the Hennessy in 2010. I fancied West End Rocker for the National; he didn't take to the race and could be competitive here if fit enough but no horse older than nine has won in the past decade. Of the younger horses Colin Tizzard's course and distance winner Golden Chieftain had a nice prep taking a two and a half mile Worcester chase just over a fortnight ago while Zarrakaft has been well tipped-up. I'll take an each-way chance on David Pipe's The Package; fifth behind Meanus Dandy in the 2010 renewal off a mark of 147, he races off 139 this time and has the assistance of Timmy Murphy in the saddle.

In some ways the preceding Elite Hurdle (2.50) is more interesting and should give some pointers for the weeks ahead. Just seven in the field, three from the Nicholls' yard, with Zarkander's fifth in the Champion Hurdle catching the eye but that one has to give weight to all his rivals. Ruby Walsh chooses to ride Propsect Wells while in the Weekender Alan King describes Balder Success 'the most exciting horse of the weekend for me...' I'm beginning to have reservations about Baby Mix - he doesn't look the easiest of rides - so I'm going right out on a limb and chancing Local Hero who has looked good over hurdles this summer but may require better ground to be seen at his very best. Having said that, his rider claims seven. The winner has come from the first three in the market on nine occasions in the past ten years but only two favourites have obliged in that timeframe.

Houblon Des Obeaux, rated 142, sets a reasonable standard for the Rising Stars Novices' Chase (2.15) and is the selection while Tante Sissi should give a decent account in the mares' handicap hurdle at 1.40. Last year's winner Violin Davis, now trained by Harry Fry, is likely to prove popular. All Annalena had three warm-up races on the Flat last month and is likely to race from the front.

Over at Sandown Overturn makes his chasing debut. He was withdrawn from Wetherby last week on account of the ground - I expressed my reservations then as the fences at Wetherby are stiff enough for any novice. If Wetherby sets a stiff task, Sandown's railway fences set a much stiffer one. Overturn isn't the biggest of individuals - I'm guessing connections will watch the 1.20 with a certain amount of trepidation.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Most unusually for one of my selections, The Package (5/1) could be called the winner some way from home; Timmy Murhphy sent his charge on five out and the pairing stayed on well to beat Michel Le Bon (4/1f) three and threequarter lengths with West End Rocker (25/1), who jumped poorly, over 40 lengths back in third. When I posted Friday night 8/1 was avaialable but Pricewise made the same selection thereby eroding much of the each-way value... Only five of the twelve runners completed.

The Elite proved a tactical affair with the early stages run at a crawl but the pace picked up gradually as the runners made their way down the back straight. Local Hero (11/1) struggled to stay with the principals coming to the home turn, eventually finishing fourth. Of the two main Nicholls runners, the market sided with Walsh's mount Propsect Wells (2/1f) but it was stablemate Zarkander (100/30) who took the spoils, jumping the final flight better than his rival to hold on by a neck. This was a decent performance giving the runner-up 17 pounds; Balder Success was 7 lengths away in third.

Those brave enough to risk Houblon Des Obeaux were rewarded with a nice price - Venetia Williams' charge obliged at 9/1, beating 7/4 favourite Poungach four nad a half lengths while Emma Lavelle will be more than pleased with Court In Motion (7/2) who finished a nose behind in third on this his first outing since April 2011.

Over at Sandown Overturn jumped impressively to win in the manner a 30/100 favourite should; bookmakers reacted by making the horse 8/1 second favourite for the Arkle. Now, I'm a big Overturn fan, but I wouldn't be interested in that wager at that price after just one run in a chase against three opponents.