Friday, January 16, 2015

Ambivalence at Ascot

Weather permitting, Sam Twiston-Davies will travel to Haydock tomorrow to partner The New One in the Stan James Champion Hurdle Trial at 2.05.

55 minutes later all eyes will turn to Ascot where Sprinter Sacre makes his reappearance in the Clarence House Chase following an absence of 386 days.

The great horse's problems have been well documented but on official ratings he has at least 23 pounds in hand over his four rivals; his starting price is likely to be the biggest since December 2011 when he beat Peddlers Cross in Kempton's Wayward Lad Novices' Chase at odds of 11/10.

Should events not go to plan, Dodging Bullets is the one most likely to benefit while Willie Mullins' Twinlight is clearly talented but not always the best of jumpers.

I'll watch from the sidelines hoping all goes to plan.

With the Haydock card not certain to beat the weather I've turned to the mares' hurdle at Ascot (1.50) in search of a wager.

Carole's Spirit sprung something of a surprise on her seasonal debut at Kempton seven and a half weeks ago. She's a tough, relentless galloper who handles underfoot conditions and on ratings the best horse in this field.

That said, Robert Walford's mare was afforded an easy time of it up front at Kempton and some fancied rivals failed to land a blow; she has to concede five pounds to all her opponents here.

Second in the race last year, she's likely to go off favourite but doesn't have much in hand over Land Of Vic who sports cheekpieces for the first time or Mischievous Milly who steps up to three miles and is entitled to improve for her seasonal debut when third behind Aurore D'Estruval (rated 147).

Oliver Sherwood's mare has good form in the book with Glens Melody (a threequarter length second to Quevega at Cheltenham in March). If she stays, she's right in the mix but the trainer has stated that the target is this year's mares' hurdle at the Festival (run over two and a half miles). 

Dark Spirit is certainly no slouch and one who has won over the trip; she was three and a quarter lengths ahead of  Mischievous Milly in Aurore D'Estruval's race at Sandown a fortnight ago. 

Bitofapuzzle is another who has to enter calculations, hailing from a yard bang in form; this evening she looks strong in the market but for me has enough to find on the official ratings.

The race looks more competitive than the market might suggest.

Hoping cheekpieces will help, I'm going to chance Peter Bowen's Land Of Vic (11/2 with Skybet this evening).

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Land Of Vic (11/2) finished third, beaten a half length and a length by Bitofapuzzle (5/2f) and Carole's Spirit (11/4).

Pilot Donald Devereux had the selection up with the pace set by Carole's Spirit and Bitofapuzzle in the early stages - Carole's Spirit started to jump markedly right while the selection failed to hold her position from the sixth and after a bad mistake at the eighth looked likely to be pulled up. However she stayed on and made plenty of ground up the hill but is probably flattered in finishing so close to the principals.

Connections stated they were delighted with Sprinter Sacre (4/6f) who came to win his race after the home turn but tired up the hill, beaten three lengths by Dodging Bullets (7/2).

TV pictures of Henderson watching the finish suggested some disappointment but in the post race interviews people were generally bullish.

Later it came to light that blood had been found in Sprinter's nostrils, reported as a reading of 2.5 on a scale of 0-4 used by vets to measure such bleeds.

Currently Sprinter heads the Champion Chase market, priced 3/1 with Bet Victor; watch this space as they say...