Thursday, March 22, 2018

Wine and horses, Cheltenham and Aintree

For reasons entirely beyond my control I have a commitment I'm obliged to keep on Friday evening this week and so, unfortunately, will be unable to post as usual.

Actually I've landed myself in a spot of rather hot water by making the sort of rudimentary mistake somebody like The Wine Tipster could only describe as 'a schoolboy error'.

Sent on a simple errand to purchase a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé (Chardonnay grape, Burgundy), I've come back home with a bottle of Pouilly-Fumé (Sauvignon blanc grape, Loire Valley), seduced by the slighly cheaper price...

It's a case of Cheltenham withdrawal symptoms.

This year there are four weeks betwen Cheltenham and Aintree, with much of the focus now on the Grand National which is scheduled for 5:15 on Saturday 14th April.

Danny Cook had barely dismounted from Definitly Red after finishing sixth in the Gold Cup before connections indicated their charge would not be running in this year's National; the Aintree Bowl is the likely target. Anibale Fly's third in the same race looked a decent enough trial - he holds entries in both the English and Irish Nationals - while American (ninth) is entered up in just the Irish showpiece at Fairyhouse, due off at 5:00 on Monday 2nd April. 

Total Recall was set to finish nearer first than last when coming to grief four from home in the Gold Cup; in some lists he is now favourite for the Aintree spectacular. 

Whatever, we should all note Harry Fry's quote after this year's Gold Cup:

"In the conditions at Cheltenham it didn't matter whether you won, were placed, unplaced or didn't finish, you had a hard race."

On Wednesday Tiger Roll ran a good trial in the cross country race at Cheltenham, beating The Last Samuri (third) and Beeves (seventh) with Cause Of Causes and Saint Are amongst those pulled up; Cause Of Causes, second in last year's National, was reported stiff and sore after the race. Beeves was noted to have run well for a long way at odds of 50/1 and Rathvinden's victory in Tuesday's four miler also mertis a mention.

In other National news Sandy Thomson is struggling to get his stable star Seeyouatmidnight qualified for the race.
Back in January the trainer gave Full Jack a low-key preparation before sending the gelding out to win the  Edinburgh National Handicap at Musselburgh. I spot a similar low-key approach with Seeyouatmidnight (has previously beaten Bristol De Mai and finished third in the 2016 Scottish National) but unfortunately the weather has had its say in the matter. 

Seeyouatmidnight still needs to run in a chase to qualify for Aintree. 

Mr Thomson might have expected to find a suitable opportunity at Carlisle's re-arranged meeting on Sunday but there isn't one on the card so the horse travels to Newbury on Saturday instead for the Doom Bar Handicap Chase (3.50). The gelding has been off the track for a year less one day and has had a wind operation in the interim but nonetheless has still been tipped up for Aintree in the Weekender at odds of 33/1...

The trainer states:

"He must have a fighting chance in the National and could be thrown in off 149."

Of course, the final word after any Festival has to go to the handicapper - Matt Brocklebank has provided a neat summary of ratings adjustments together with notes on selected runners.

In the meantime, in preparation for Friday night, I'm off to do some initial spadework on these handy wine cheat sheets...

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Seeyouatmidnight update from Racing Post 25.03.18: