Friday, November 18, 2016

Ascot's Coral Hurdle 2016

Menorah's withdrawal leaves just six set to go to post for tomorrow's feature, the Betfair Chase at Haydock; the going is currently described as soft, heavy in places.

I'll watch with interest but I'm not going to play.

On ratings Cue Card is six pounds well in with nearest rival Coneygree who has his first run in over a year. Richard Johnson claims the plum ride aboard the 2015 Gold Cup winner, leaving Aidan Coleman, originally booked, on the sidelines. 

Plenty think Cue Card will show improvement from his seasonal debut in the Charlie Hall Chase where he finished third behind Irish Cavalier and Menorah. He may well do but in six short weeks he's going to celebrate his 11th birthday (as will old rival Silviniaco Conti); his price is short enough, even though it has drifted in recent days.

Course and distance winner Seeyouatmidnight will have conditions to suit but the odds on offer don't make much appeal; on ratings he has 22 pounds to find with Cue Card.

In contrast the betting for Ascot's Coral Hurdle at 2.40 suggests Yanworth is the one yet on ratings there is little to choose between the five contestants.

Using top weight Lil Rockerfeller as the benchmark on 160, adjusted ratings read as follows: Court Minstrel 157; Yanworth 158; Garde La Victoire 159; Zarkandar 161.

In addition, Yanworth is the only runner making his seasonal debut.

No doubt the bullish noises coming out of the King yard in the build-up will have contributed to the current price about the favourite. The trainer has said that after this he'll know which route to take - the Champion Hurdle or the World Hurdle. The question for those looking to oppose is: with what?

Zarkander is best at the weights yet I still recall how he folded after the last in 2014 Long Walk Hurdle; he has six furlongs less to travel here but at the age of nine he may just be vulnerable to a younger opponent. He last won in April 2013.

Lil Rockerfeller is as tough as old boots. Connections have had a last-minute change of mind, deciding to come here rather than go to Newbury next week; they are convinced the step back in trip will not be a problem. The plan is the Long Walk at Ascot next month.

Garde La Victoire is another tough customer who won the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las on his seasonal debut before being beaten a short head in the Haldon Gold Cup. He reverts to the smaller obstacles; regular pilot Richard Johnson is otherwise engaged at Haydock.

Court Minstrel is priced up the outsider of the field with most of his winning form coming on good ground.

I'm torn between Garde La Victoire and Lil Rockerfeller; both are best-priced 8/1 at the time of writing. Since 1990 only three five-year-olds have collected the spoils - Muse (1992), No Refuge (2005) and Annie Power (2013). Garde La Victoire is the play against Yanworth.

Back at Haydock I was tempted to take a small each-way interest in Western Cape in the 'Fixed Brush' handicap hurdle at 2.25.

I've followed this one for a while. He was put in his place by Duke Des Champs at Ascot last season but ran creditably on his seasonal reappearance and will love the ground. Kevin Jones claims five but the fancy prices disappeared when he was tipped up elsewhere earlier in the week and the stable looks out of form.

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Plenty of money for selection Garde La Victoire (4/1) to overturn hotpot Yanworth (4/5f) but in the event it was Lil Rockerfeller (10/1) who gave the jolly most to think about, leading over the last before eventually succumbing in the final hundred yards; Garde La Victoire finished ten lengths adrift in third, unable to go with the principals off the home bend.

Yanworth appeared more workman-like than world-beater here but it was his first run of the season and connections can expect improvement; whether they go Champion Hurdle or World Hurdle remain to be seen.