Friday, January 29, 2016

Cheltenham's Festival Trials Day 2016

There will be clues aplenty at Cheltenham's Festival Trials Day tomorrow but the accompanying worry is that, with the showpiece just over six weeks away, many of the runners won't turn up at the very top of their game - unsurprisingly, bigger prizes in March will be the main focus of attention for many.

Thistlecrack's trainer Colin Tizzard isn't one to adopt that sort of approach - as he makes clear in the Weekender:

"The season isn't all about one race, though, and before that [Thistlecrack] runs at Cheltenham on Saturday in the Cleeve Hurdle. There won't be any excuses afterwards saying he needed the run or it will put him right for the big one, this is a proper prize and he will be fit and ready to do his very best."    

In the BetBright Chase (1.50) Djakadam looks terribly short at 1/2 - under the conditions of the race he is just two pounds clear of Many Clouds (aimed at the Grand National) and has four pounds to find with Alan King's Smad Place.

The opening Triumph Hurdle Trial looks trappy but should prove highly informative. I saw Wolf Of Windlesham win on his hurdles debut at Ludlow in the autumn - rated no higher than 65 on the Flat, I never for a moment envisaged him in a contest like this but after his win at the Open meeting he deserves to take his place in the line-up.

With Barters Hill expected to run at Doncaster, Shantou Village will be my play against favourite Yanworth in the Neptune Investment Management Novices' Hurdle at 3.00. At the time of writing 5/2 is the price; I was looking for 11/4. The booking of Ruby Walsh catches the eye.

Finally, a tale to make you weep...
A group of us had arranged to go Newbury a week last Wednesday but the meeting was called off after overnight temperatures reached minus seven. I'd done the homework beforehand and noted Martin Keighley's Johnny Og in the third. He appealed as the outsider (14/1 the night before) in a field of six who might give us a run for our money on the back of the handler's comments in the Weekender 30.12.15 - 03.01.16:

"He has plenty of of ability but needs to be left out in front with no company. He won at Stratford... but then things have gone against him at Newbury and Ascot as he couldn't get his own way... This soft ground is ideal for him and he'll be out again next month when I think he should win sooner rather than later." 

Three days after that Newbury abandonment, Johnny Og turns up in an amateur riders' handicap chase at Ascot where the book records he 'tracked leader, led 4 out, 12 lengths clear after next, stayed on well' and won at odds of 14/1. Needless to say, I didn't have a penny on.

Since then I have worked my way through five boxes of Kleenex Mansize Tissues; I think I can now say unequivocally that I've fully recovered my composure.

Johnny Og goes again tomorrow in the 1.15. Don't even think about asking.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

2/1 favourite Yanworth came to the final flight with any amount in hand to go past selection Shantou Village (9/4) in impressive style on the run up the hill; seven lengths was the official margin of defeat.

5/2 is now the best price about Yanworth for the Neptune at the Festival; Shantou Village is quoted at 16/1.