Friday, March 04, 2016

Distractions and diversions

Cheltenham is less than a fortnight away, I've just purchased my Weekender Cheltenham The Ultimate Guide (£3.25 from all good newsagents) and new Gold Cup sponsors Timico are running a free-to-enter competition with a first prize of £250,000 - all you have to do is predict the correct finishing order of the runners.

All of which has distracted me from tomorrow's cards. Still, a couple of Newbury runners have caught my eye...

Both regular readers will know that six weeks ago Johnny Og caused me a considerable amount of anguish when winning Ascot's Thames Materials Amateur Riders' Handicap Chase at odds of 14/1;  I'd picked him out as a bet at Newbury three days earlier but that meeting was frosted off and I didn't have a penny on at Ascot...

Unplaced at Cheltenham seven days later, Johnny returns to action tomorrow (Newbury 4.35) after a short break which should have freshened him up nicely. According to Martin Keighley's comments in the Weekender at the turn of the year, the key factor with this horse is he likes to race from the front - on his own:

"He has plenty 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..."

Of tomorrow's nine opponents, the potential challengers for the early lead are Royal Guardsman, Lucky Jim and So Oscar; Royal Guardsman looks the biggest threat to my cunning Baldrick-like plan, having won the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle on this card last year. 

Three of the field - Take A Break, So Oscar and Florida Calling - are trying fences for the first time while another two opponents - Hughesie and Lucky Jim - have just the one chase outing under their belt.

I'll take an each-way interest in Johnny Og, 14/1 at the time of writing; given his style of racing, I think I'll know my fate soon enough.

David Pipe appears particularly upbeat about Gabrial The Great in the Weekender. This one has next week's Imperial Cup at Sandown as his target but it looks as though connections want to blow away the cobwebs with a run in Newbury's 2.50.

In August 2014 he raced off a mark of 140 but he was subsequently off the track for more than a year before finishing third at Wincanton in December. Tomorrow he starts off 126 and wears a tongue-tie for the first time; 12/1 is the current price if you're tempted.

Pure Vision has had the Newbury finale as a target since the autumn. Owned by J P McManus, he was beaten a head over course and distance in November. Alan King won last year's renewal with The Unit and saddles Sir Anthony Browne and Tara View.

Tom Segal has set a hare running with the suggestion that, on the eve of Cheltenham, the King stable may be going out of form. This follows a couple of high-profile disappointments last weekend (Gibralfaro and Criq Rock at Kempton and Grumeti and Medinas at Fontwell - both Grumeti and Medinas have since been retired). Graham Cunningham spent this morning at Barbury Castle - and reports no obvious cause for concerns.


Sandracer said...

Nice one geedee I trust u took the 14's right?... I have managed to miss the thing twice now. My name is Jon btw and I feel like I've scored 2 own goals. Damn

TW said...


Another excellent write up and a great result on the day....very well done!


Unknown said...

I thought Johnny Og was overpriced too. Good pick and best wishes for Cheltenham

GeeDee said...

Hi Sandracer,

Double damn! The Sporting Life summary talked up his Cheltenham chance after the race but he looked to have a hard enough race here and he's unlikely to find it as easy to dominate.

Keep smiling ;)

GeeDee said...

Thanks TW.

It's good when it comes off - just doesn't happen all that often... ;)


GeeDee said...

Thanks Ray.

After a pick like that, I usually say, going on past form, my next winner is due sometime three months hence. Doesn't bode too well for Cheltenham... ;)

Good luck for the Festival.


GeeDee said...

A blunder by Royal Guardsman (4/1) at the second allowed Johnny Og (8/1) his own way up front. Ten lengths to the good in the home straight,the selection was hard ridden two out but he stayed on well and passed the post one and three quarter lengths in front of Exmoor Mist (4/1).

Gabrial The Great didn't appear that well-named after an enigmatic display in the Greatwood Hurdle. Tom Scudamore deliberately gave the field ten lengths at the start; David Pipe's charge then made rapid headway to lead coming out of the back straight only to fold tamely after the turn for home. He was pulled up three out.

On this evidence he looked a tricky ride; this certainly didn't look a good preparation for Saturday's Imperial Cup.