Friday, February 24, 2017

Rhythm and blues and Betbright views

"It's important to get into a good rhythm early on" is the sort of phraseology one might ordinarily associate with one of the Carry On films of the late sixties and early seventies but, for reasons unbeknown to me, in more recent times its usage seems to have become more fashionable amongst racing commentators and pundits who insist on repeating the mantra at least three times before the 'off' of every handicap chase televised.

Such sententious usage has only succeeded in inducing dyspeptic symptoms in this particular viewer during a Saturday afternoon's racing coverage.

Don't get me wrong, I fully understand the validity of the point being made but, hey, I've struck bets on beasts that have quite patently failed to get into any sort of a rhythm in any part of a race, never mind early on, they've just fiddled away and, once or twice, even managed to come good at the end. Similarly I can think of several selections that have established a good rhythm early on only to fade into oblivion at the business end of the race.

Rant over. Remind me to purchase another bottle of Gaviscon before the Festival starts...

At the beginning of the week Tea For Two was priced up favourite for Kempton's Betbright Chase (3.35) but the gelding was missing from Thursday's declarations. It transpires connections have had a re-think and now intend to run in the Gold Cup with Lizzie Kelly set to become the first female professional jockey to ride in the race.

In Tea For Two's absence, Double Shuffle heads the market and there's plenty to like about his chance.

Tom George's inmate raced prominently to win over this course and distance just after Christmas with Opening Batsman finishing some 20 lengths adrift in fifth. The handicapper has raised the winner six pounds for that effort but he's still weighted to confirm placings with Opening Batsman, will appreciate better ground and retains the hood introduced the last time.

Last year's renewal saw Theatre Guide beat Opening Batsman ten lengths (Ballykan fourth, Viva Steve sixth) but 12 months on he's 14 pounds higher which looks challenging.

                                         2016          2017         Lengths beaten
Theatre Guide                    139            153
Opening Batsman              136             133          10
Ballykan                             136             140          12.5 *Ryan Hatch (3)
Viva Steve                          133             139          13.5

Ballykan from the Twiston-Davies stable seems progressive, has been tipped up here and there and is Dave Edwards' Topspeed selection in the Weekender.

There was a lot of money for Viva Steve at Warwick the last day but ultimately he was disappointing in tenth; it was very heavy and he may bounce back but the suspicion is he'd prefer a bit more cut than he's likely to get.

'If you can't get three miles at Kempton, you can't get it anywhere.' I've lost count of the number of times I've heard that particular adage. I put no store by it so have to discount the three in the field that try the trip for the first time - Aso, Three Musketeers and Pilgrims Bay; in my book Irish Saint is another runner that doesn't look guaranteed to stay.

Fingerontheswtich wearing a tongue-tie for the first time won over three miles at Wetherby the last day so merits consideration but you need a more lateral approach to bring Nicky Henderson's duo, Cocktails At Dawn and Triolo D'Alene, into the reckoning.

Whilst Cocktails At Dawn sound far more civilised than Pistols At Dawn - mine's an Old Fashioned - I wouldn't have given this one a second glance until I read earlier in the week that the master trainer had been keeping him back for the Grand National; allocated 10-3 he looks to have every chance of making the cut. On 10 October 2015 Cocktails had As De Mee, Native River, Blaklion and Regal Encore in arrears in a Chepstow novice chase; you don't need me to tell you things haven't quite gone to plan in the interim...

Back in March 2012 at a Festival preview evening Nicky Henderson touted Triolo D'Alene as his best bet 'down in the handicaps'. The beast has frustrated me ever since. In 2013 he won the Hennessy at odds of 20/1 carrying none of my money. I've long since given up trying to predict how he'll run but I would say he has won at Kempton; in his younger days he appeared to be suited by better ground but nowadays I think he prefers some cut.

As always, an open affair - Double Shuffle has obvious claims.

At the time of writing Ballykan is 14/1 with Paddy Power who pay a fifth the odds four places while Cocktails At Dawn is 18/1 with Coral who pay a quarter the odds three places.

Of the two Ballykan appears more likely to run a race so Ballykan is the each-way suggestion. I just hope he gets into a good rhythm early on...


Anonymous said...

The Kempton race is the free TimeForm race today so I've listed their ratings below followed by my own in [].

VIVA STEVE 168 [163]
IRISH SAINT 167 [165]
ASO 163 [164]
BALLYKAN 163 [165]
ANNACOTTY 162 [158]
PILGRIMS BAY 161§ [164]

From Nicky Henderson's Blog

"These two are totally ground dependent and we’ve been waiting for quite some time to get it, which we do now. The Grand National is what I was hoping for with both of them and Cocktails may just about scrape in but sadly Triolo won’t so he’s coming here instead. On their day these are two very capable horses and are working well, particularly Triolo and if I was asked to put a tenner on one or the other, it would probably be him, three miles around here suits him well."

James Burn, The Racing Post's Lambourn correspondent, has napped him with the comment:- 'An impressive course winner last season. Has to put some heavy defeats behind him, but should get the good ground he adores and has dropped to an attractive mark.'

I've put Triolo D'Alene up twice here this season and he is now 3lbs below his winning Hennessy Gold Cup mark, but he's becoming a cliff horse so I'll let him run today which of course means.....

Good Luck


GeeDee said...

Many thanks for this post, TW, really informative.

I'm taken by your ratings for Triolo and Opening Batsman too. After reading those comments, I simply had to place an each-way saver on Triolo...

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

To paraphrase Jeffrey Bernard, sometimes it might just be easier to take the money out of your back pocket and flush it straight down the toilet...

On his first try at three miles, 25/1 winner Pilgrims Bay looked the classic example of a horse that failed to get into a good rhythm early on. Plum last after the first, James Best crept unnoticed through the field while several more fancied runners fell by the wayside; producing his quirky mount on the bridle at the final fence, Best went on to beat Double Shuffle (11/2) half a length with Theatre Guide (11/1) two and half lengths further adrift in third.

Selection Ballykan (11/1) ran a respectable enough race. Third off the final bend, he struggled to go with the principals up the long home straight and eventually finished fifth behind Aso (11/1) in fourth who appeared to appreciate this step-up in trip.

For the record, Nicky Henderson's duo suffered a torrid time. I don't like to use the term 'unlucky' in race results but that adjective certainly applies to Triolo D'Alene (16/1) who was pulled up after the second having been jumped into at the first.

Cocktails At Dawn (25/1) led the field to the eighth where he took a crashing fall. On a positive note, he walked away in one piece; I'd imagine Grand National plans are under review.

Onwards and upwards as they say...