Saturday, November 14, 2020

Cheltenham November meeting 2020 - an outsider in the Greatwood

I haven't spent a lot of time on the form but I like an outsider in the Greatwood Handicap Hurdle (Cheltenham 3.00). 

There are seventeen left in at he moment (Sebastopol a non-runner) but with the going officially described as soft there may be further withdrawals in due course.

Of those at the top of the market Tegerek won over course and distance 23 days ago and Kevin Brogan can claim seven while Thyme White looked good winning at Chepstow but the handicapper has had his say and raised Paul Nicholls' charge 11 pounds.

Thyme White's stablemate Sir Psycho was well beaten behind Tea Clipper in the Silver Trophy at that same Chepstow meeting; he didn't appear to stay the extended trip there so this step back should suit as should the ground. His fifth in the Triumph behind Burning Victory is noteworthy but Goshen's fall at the last when well clear casts some doubt about the value of the form - personally I'm ambivalent but Alistair Jones has carped it in no uncertain terms in the Weekender. I was particularly impressed with Sir Psycho's slick hurdling at Haydock last February but jockey bookings would suggest Thyme White is the stable's first string.

Last year's winner Harambe is now rated six pounds higher while the David Pipe trained Thinking could be anything - a first-time tongue tie following a wind operation is off-putting on soft ground.

The outsiders on the shortlist are Pisgah Pike, Milkwood/Ballinsker, and Cormier.

Pisgah Pike looks overpriced at 33/1. In a recent stable tour handler Jamie Snowden hinted that his charge would have won a listed hurdle at Market Rasen in September if regular rider Gavin Sheehan had been in the plate and went on to say:

"I am sure there is a decent handicap in him and if he progresses as we hope then something like the Scottish Champion Hurdle next spring could be a target."

The worry is the ground has gone against him.

The form of Milkwood and Ballinsker is closely linked. Milkwood beat Ballinsker an easy four lengths on good to soft at Ffos Las at the beginning of October and returned there 17 days later racing off a mark nine pounds higher to finish fourth behind Sceau Royal in the Welsh Champion Hurdle. The booking of Brian Hughes for Ballinsker catches the eye and Evan Williams' charge re-opposes 10 pounds better off but of the pair I marginally prefer Milkwood.

Cormier should have no trouble with the going. Rated 69 on the Flat he goes off 136 tomorrow after a couple of facile victories at Uttoxeter and Fakenham (third that day Doukarov has since won a Taunton novices' handicap chase). Brian Ellison sent out Nietzsche to win the 2018 running; Danny McMenamin claims three but this is a deep race and recent yard form is a concern.

33/1 Pisgah Pike is tempting but I'm going to take a small each-way interest in Milkwood in the hope he'll act on the ground and the track.

Paddy Power are paying six places, Sky Bet seven. Milkwood is the each-way selection, 25/1 with Paddy Power at the time of writing.


Anonymous said...

Siruh Du Lac was very unlucky yesterday, if Tom had been able be able to stay in the saddle...who knows what might have been?

The going at Cheltenham this morning is Chase course Soft Hurdle course Soft, heavy in places. and as a result Sebastopol, Pisgah Pike, Milkwood & Thyme White are all non-runners because of the easing ground...there may be more.

169,Sir Psycho(Ire),9.4
171,The Shunter(Ire),5.2
170,Strong Glance(Gb),5.2
163,Hunters Call(Ire),4.7
163,Tudor City(Ire),3.8

Alan King’s [AK] Edwardstone is at the head of the market but it is the yard’s second string and last year’s winner Harambe that tops the system output.

Edwardstone is the less exposed of the two and AK appears quite bullish about the horse but the ground is a concern as he did not really appear to progress in two soft ground races after wining his first two starts last term.

Conditions should be spot on for Harambe [last year’s going was Soft, Heavy in places]. He has an extra 6lbs to carry this year [143] but was in the process of running a big race off 1lb higher when last seen in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury in February before being brought down at the last which provides some hope that he still has some progression in him and can cope with the rise in weight.

The Newbury fall left its mark and he’s not been seen since. The 281 day absence is a cause of concern, he has not won when running after an absence of 60+ days but there are mitigating circumstances, brought down twice, a good third in the bumper at the Grand National meeting and running over 2 ½ miles which is possibly a bit further than he wants to go.

The non-runners mean the enhanced places are under threat so it might be worth taking an EW chance that at 20/1 [3 places BET365] Harambe can outshine his more fancied stable mate.

Good luck if you go in again on something else now Milkwood is a NR.


GeeDee said...

Thanks for providing your ratings, TW. You've made a good case for Harambe - that was a nasty incident at Newbury back in February.

With Milkwood now a non-runner and the extra places disappearing faster than my betting bank, I'll chance Cormier ahead of Ballinsker on the back of this Brain Ellison quote reported in the RP:

"He's surprised me with what he's done since going hurdling and he'll love soft ground. He's a very good jumper, so I'm not too concerned about stepping out of novice company."

Oddschecker indicate William Hill offer 22/1 at this moment in time and also pay five places which looks out of kilter with the rest of the market.

Good luck!

GeeDee said...

Selection Cormier (18/1) never threatened to make a place but put in a respectable effort on his first run in a handicap, finishing seventh, some 12 lengths behind bottom weight (and well-backed) Irish-trained winner The Shunter (13/2). Ballyandy (8/1) came home three lengths adrift in second with 4/1f Tegerek third (played up at the start) and Hunters Call (16/1) fourth.

Harambe (16/1) looked to be in with every chance when coming to grief at the last while Ballinsker (25/1) showed up well, leading for much of the trip before giving way three from home and then gradually fading up the hill; he finished a length and a half ahead of the selection in sixth and handled the the ground better than I'd expected.