Friday, December 14, 2018

Whips and tips

Following the untimely passing of The Times' racing correspondent Alan Lee in 2015, readers noticed a marked decrease in the number of column inches the paper was prepared to devote to horse racing matters.

Perhaps in an attempt to redress the balance in some way, on Wednesday columnist Matthew Syed, currently reading the Autobiography of Bertrand Russell, wrote an article entitled 'Whipping horses is ruining racing. It must be banned' in which he affirmed:

'Horses are being thrashed with whips at meetings up and down the country...'

Now, clearly there is a debate to be had about the whip and its use in racing but this particular article really did not help the cause and its publication whipped up something of a storm in racing circles. Onwards and upwards as they say...

The highlight on tomorrow's card at Cheltenham is the Caspar Caviar Gold Cup run over the New Course at 1.55; fifteen have been declared with the going described as good but rain has been forecast from seven o'clock tomorrow morning.

Four weeks ago Baron Alco beat my each-way selection Frodon over the Old Course here in the BetVictor Gold Cup (Guitar Pete third, Rather Be brought down, Romain De Senam unseated rider and Splash Of Ginge pulled up).

I'd be wary about taking a literal reading of that form as those that raced from the front missed the traffic problems behind - just six of the eighteen starters completed.

Top weight Frodon was obliged to concede at least nine pounds to all his opponents that day; tomorrow he has to concede at least 12 pounds to the rest of the field. Paul Nicholls' charge won the 2016 renewal of this race off a mark of 149 carrying 10-10; tomorrow he races off 164.

In the past decade Poquelin is the only horse to win with an official handicap rating above 150; he won off 151 in 2009 and 163 in 2010. In the same timeframe no horse older than eight has come home in front.

At the prices previous course and distance winner Foxtail Hill (16/1) makes some appeal. The Twiston-Davies inmate gave a hint of a return to form last time but the forecast rain is a worry so in search of a wager I've looked at the Unibet International Hurdle at 3.05.

Laurina hasn't come over from Ireland on account of the ground and Nicky Henderson has indicated Call Me Lord prefers to race right-handed so is likely to go to Ascot next week where he holds entries in the Long Walk and the Betfair Exchange Trophy Handicap Hurdle.

That leaves just the eight runners and a fairly open-looking affair.

The Supreme winner at the Festival Summerville Boy is priced up favourite but his run in the Fighting Fifth a fortnight ago behind Buvuer D'Air (Vision Des Flos third) was most disappointing.

There are two previous winners in the field - The New One and Old Guard.

The former was beaten 25 lengths by Silver Streak last time; he wears a first-time visor tomorrow and would have every chance if returning to form but connections have indicated their charge will be retired if he doesn't show some sparkle. The latter would probably prefer a little further.

Nietzsche beat Silver Streak a head in the Greatwood here four weeks ago with Old Guard third and Western Ryder fifth. Silver Streak is certainly on the upgrade while Western Ryder's chance in first-time cheekpieces is also respected.

However on ratings the stand-out runner is Brain Power who receives weight from six of his seven rivals.

He hasn't really taken to chasing so I'm hoping a return to the smaller obstacles gets his career back on track. This is his second run since wind surgery in the summer; he finished eighth behind Buveur D'Air in the 2017 Champion Hurdle and was given an official handicap mark of 162.

Nicky Henderson's other runner We Have A Dream looks to face a difficult task with his stable companion on these terms.

Obviously I'm assuming a return to the smaller obstacles brings about a return to form - Brain Power (7/1 with Paddy Power and Betfair) is the win selection.


Anonymous said...

Well done last week with Vieux Lion Rouge another good selection from the blog.

I can see the value in 7/1 Brain Power; clearly a bit better showing on his seasonal debut in the Shloer Chase would have been preferable and I'd not want too much rain to fall before post time as I'm not 100% certain he likes it too soft. I'll wait until closer to the race before deciding to step in.

For my main bet I'm going with Martin Keighley's Brillare Momento at odds of 16/1 [4 places 1/5 odds] in the finale. The mare never got involved after fluffing the first LTO but she is reported to have recovered well, the expected rain will be a plus rather than a negative, Harry Stock's 5lb claim will help with the 11-12 burden, she sports a first-time visor and the field look a lot more evenly matched than the market suggests. The yard' current form could be better but I'm still hopeful of a place or even better!

Rather Be has an obvious chance in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup but is too short because of this. Full Glass and Casablanca Mix [CM] are of interest but concern over this being a bit too competitive at this stage of their career's tempers enthusiasm. William Hill and Paddy Power are paying 7 and 6 places respectively and should CM drift to 16/1 with these I'd probably take a chance.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Best price Casablanca Mix still 14/1, TW. Good luck with Brillare Momento in the finale.

Anonymous said...

Very well done, aside from Nico perhaps hitting the front a bit too soon, Brain Power could be called the winner a long way out.


GeeDee said...

Strong winds and driving rain kept the crowds away from the track; the going was changed from good to good to soft after top weight Frodon (7/1) ran his opponents ragged with an exceptional performance in the Caspar Caviar Gold Cup.

In the International Hurdle selection Brain Power (7/1) had something in hand over his rivals on ratings and, for once, that's how the race panned out with Nico De Bonville sending his mount to the front off the home turn. The pairing jumped the final flight some five lengths ahead of their pursuers and then appeared to tire a little up the hill but they were never in any danger, passing the post one and threequarter lengths ahead of 9/2 shot Silver Streak (his chance compromised by a bad jump two out) with Western Ryder (4/1f) third.

The New One (14/1) set off in front but quickly came back to his field and was pulled up before the last. Immediately afterwards connections announced the retirement of their flagship horse who has won over £1 million in total prize money: