Friday, March 01, 2019

Down after the Eider

In the immediate aftermath of Crosspark's win in the Eider Chase at Newcastle last week, I was referred to the local stewards to face a charge of striking the sofa with the Saturday supplement above the permitted number of times after the final fence.

Following a thorough examination of available evidence and a sentient, slightly slurred submission from susurrous Lady Sipsmith, the stipe from the suburbs, chief steward Mrs Tips dispensed a regulatory 10 day suspension for the appropriated misuse - five days for marking the sofa with a minor weal, two for excessive force and three for failing to allow the sofa enough time to respond - commencing Wednesday 6th March.

Under the stringent Rules of Racing in Our House no betting or televised racing is permitted during the suspension period. As this period coincides with the Cheltenham Festival, I have indicated to the chief steward I am appealing; her tart reply - 'That may have been the case some thirty five years ago but no longer applies!' - came just a trifle too swiftly for comfort.

Negotiations are at a 'delicate' juncture. With sackcloth and ashes manifestly insufficient, so far I've agreed chocolates, flowers and, as a gesture of goodwill, a half bottle of supermarket gin for the whispering Lady Sipsmith. If necessary, I'll consider tempting the chief steward with a long weekend in a static caravan outside Lawrenny, Pembrokeshire (reputedly the birthplace of Dick Francis and handily situated for a visit to Peter Bowen's yard) but I don't want to play that card unless I have to.

The equine flu outbreak and now this... All I need is for the people at PG Tips to take a (tea) leaf out of Manchester United's book and claim infringement of intellectual property rights - as the football club did against Panini Cheapskates earlier this week - and I'll have a complete set.

My Festival preparations are in total tatters and the country's politicians are doing very little to help the cause with the threat that several key Brexit votes could still take place in Cheltenham week. Is nothing sacrosanct anymore?

I was disappointed to see Lake View Lad didn't make the final declarations for the Belhaven Brewery Premier Chase at Kelso tomorrow as this one has been on my radar since he won the Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby on Boxing Day. He currently holds an entry in the Ultima Chase on the first day of the Festival for which he is quoted a 25/1 chance (more study required, but the beast fails to warrant a mention in the race preview in the Racing Post Cheltenham - The Ultimate Guide publication) as well as an entry in the Grand National for which he is priced up at 33/1.

With that cunning plan thwarted and rain not forecast to hit Berkshire until Sunday, Newbury's 'Supporting Greatwood' meeting has been the focus of attention; the going is described as good to soft.

The previously tipped San Benedeto goes in the Gold Cup at 2.40 and is available at 16/1 with Paddy Power but I still haven't recovered from the shock of his last run at Ascot six weeks ago so, instead, I've had a look at the William Hill Supporting Greatwood Veterans' Handicap Chase at 2.05, primarily because the last time I had a wager in a veterans' chase the outcome was far more propitious when Houblon Des Obeaux landed the spoils at Sandown and I had sufficient prescience to strike the bet at odds of 20/1.

After that race connections made it abundantly clear that was a 'going' day for their charge. The next time at the same track he was beaten over 35 lengths into tenth by Classic Ben - third in that race Kimberlite Candy finished fifth in the Eider, fourth Give Me A Copper has been installed 13/2 favourite for the Ultima while seventh Shanroe Santos appears to hold Venetia Williams' charge on these terms - it is noted that Shanroe Santos did not jump well last time.

Meanwhile Theatre Guide finished fifteen lengths second behind Houblon Des Obeaux and on the book is not weighted to reverse the form. Of course, there's no guarantee Houblon Des Obeaux will turn up in the required frame of mind tomorrow and I feel that's reflected in the price on offer.

Carole's Destrier finished fourth in the Classic Chase at Warwick on his penultimate start - form that reads well - and prior to that won the Mandarin Chase over course and distance; his chance is respected as is that of favourite Abolitionist who was third in the 2017 Irish National and won an Aintree hurdle on his debut for new connections after a break of 441 days.

The Last Samuri has his third run following wind surgery; the second at Taunton last time out gives him every chance but Alan King has indicated Ziga Boy will come on for the run.

Two with lower mileage on the clock than most are Perform and Joe Farrell. Mr Ben Jones can claim seven on the former and has ridden at 9-7 in the past twelve months while the latter won here last year before going on to bag the Scottish National off a mark of 135.

A word too for Venetia Williams' other runner Marilhac whose second to Relentless Dreamer at Ludlow in December 2017 reads well but the balance of his form suggests he prefers racing right-handed.

Writing this post, I've come to realise just how competitive this race is.

I'm going to chance the Rebecca Curtis trained Joe Farrell. He hasn't been seen on a racecourse since beating Ballyoptic a nose in the Scottish National last April but he has been placed in four of his six chase starts to date and has won after a break in the past.

Joe Farrell is the each-way selection, at the time of writing 9/1 with William Hill who pay one fifth the odds five places.


Anonymous said...

RTG Horse

Top rated pair Ziga Boy and Marcilhac both need to prove their fitness.

Ratings wise, it might pay to weigh in with Shanroe Santos at 12/1 with William Hill [5 places 1/5 odds]. SS has been running well enough of late and could stay on to take a place. French conditional Maxime Tissier has a 20% strike rate since teaming up with Lucy Wadham so his 5lbs claim looks useful plus.

As you note Joe Farrell is lightly raced and goes well fresh so easy to see him running a big race if he can cope with his new mark,

But you’re right it looks a tricky affair.

Good luck


GeeDee said...

Thanks for your ratings, TW. Hopeful rather than confident.

Anonymous said...

The previously tipped San Benedeto goes in the Gold Cup at 2.40 and is available at 16/1 with Paddy Power but I still haven't recovered from the shock of his last run at Ascot six weeks ago so......hey hoe!


GeeDee said...


Heightened state of shock kicked in at roughly 2.45pm... ;)

GeeDee said...

Two weeks ago, in a reply to reader Sandracer I said:

'Worst feeling in racing, losing money on a 6/4 shoo-in.'

Indulge me. I'd like to amend that slightly, if I may...

'If there's a worse feeling in racing than backing a loser, it's missing out on a winner.' Somehow, I've managed to achieve both in one single post.

Selection Joe Farrell (8/1) raced prominently in third in the early stages but made a howler going down the back straight and struggled to keep tabs on the principals thereafter, eventually finishing a well-beaten sixth.

Theatre Guide (12/1) took this race by the scruff of the neck at the cross fence, going on to quickly put daylight between himself and his pursuers. 10 lengths clear, he barely cleared the last, nearly dumping pilot Paddy Brennan on the turf. That opened the door for Carole's Destrier (6/1) who collared Theatre Guide on the run-in to win by one and a half lengths with Houblon Des Obeaux (12/1) making five places up the home straight to claim third and Milansbar (14/1) fourth. Abolitionist (11/2) was in with a shout until weakening from the last and should not be written off.

Thirty five minutes later San Benedeto recorded his first win since April 2017 at odds of 11/1, holding Gala Ball (20/1) two and a quarter lengths with something in hand.

Pass me the Kleenex...