Friday, April 02, 2021

Those Easter heebie-jeebies

I just don't quite know what it is but those post-Cheltenham pre-Aintree fixtures always give me with the heebie-jeebies... 

Earlier today Gigginstown House Stud racing manager Eddie O'Leary indicated Tiger Roll will miss the Irish Grand National at Fairyhouse on Monday and travel over to contest the Betway Bowl at Aintree next Thursday.

As a result the Irish National weights have risen 11 pounds; Latest Exhibition is now set to carry 11-10.

I haven't looked at the race in any great detail but I thought the form of last month's Grand National Trial at Punchestown worth a bit of work.

The Big Dog advertised his chance winning the trial; rider Jamie Codd was all prepared to do his lowest weight for the best part of 17 years if Tiger Roll were to turn up and take his chance but that won't be necessary now.  

The mare Moyhenna met plenty of trouble in running yet finished third that day, just seven lengths behind The Big Dog. Previously she was beaten half a length by Augusta Gold at level weights over a shorter trip at Fairyhouse. 

Taking into account her rider's five pound allowance, she looks weighted to reverse placings with both The Big Dog and Augusta Gold yet at the time of writing she's chalked up a 25/1 chance. 

The reason for the layers' largesse?  Probably her latest run at the Cheltenham Festival - just 17 days ago - in the Mrs Paddy Power Mares' Chase; she didn't jump particularly well when fifth behind the likes of Colreevy, Elimay and Shattered Love.   

Roaring Bull was ninth in the Punchestown trial while Discordantly isn't immediately discounted, falling five from home when still in touch with the leaders. This one ran well to finish sixth in the Ultima at Cheltenham but again the worry is the same as with Moyhenna - have they had sufficient time to recover from those Festival exertions?

Another mare I thought worth a second look was the Thomas Mullins trained course and distance winner Court Maid. She has her fair share of weight but turns up fresh and this looks to have been her target.

This side of the Irish Sea, with just seven declared in the Two Mile Hurdle Series Final (2.05 Haydock) Chti Balko is of interest at around the 7/1 mark; Paul Kealy has highlighted his chance in the Weekender. 

Donald McCain's charge has a particular liking for Haydock, as the handler explained in a Straight from the Stable feature [RP Weekender 30.12.20 - 03.01.21]:

"It was great to see him win so easily recently when coming home by 26 lengths at Haydock over 2m on heavy ground. It was his third win at the track, a venue he loves and I would run him there all the time if there were enough races. I genuinely believe he is a 10lb better horse around there."   

After that race, jockey Theo Gillard said:

"Most of Chti Balko's best runs have been around here on bottomless ground. He goes round those bends like a motorbike." 

It would be unwise to put too much store by that win as most of his opponents failed to fire on the day; it will certainly be far more competitive tomorrow. 

Similarly, the gelding won't have his favoured heavy ground, the going currently being described as good to soft on the hurdle course.

And the formbook tells us he can't hope to reverse placings with Shantou Express on last month's Wetherby running (Da Vinci Hand fifth). 

All that said, he's top rated on Racing Post ratings and finished second in the 2018 renewal of this race, beaten just over three lengths trying to concede 25 pounds to stablemate William Of Orange. His record over this trip at the track reads three wins and one second from four runs.

Favourite Vision Du Puy bounced back to form at Stratford last time; the mare has been raised five pounds for that effort and was placed in a Wetherby mares' listed hurdle in 2019. Her price has drifted through the day.

Shantou Express has gone up six pounds for that Wetherby run last time and is feared most.

Sporting first-time cheekpieces Dino Velvet likes to come from off the pace, a style of running that is probably not best suited to this track.

Xcitations has been raised 10 pounds for his recent Fakenham win while Nordic Combined would have a shout on his very best form but has looked inconsistent this term. 

It looks the sort of wager to give even the most sanguine a dose of the heebie-jeebies... 

Chti Balko is the win selection, 7/1 with both Paddy Power and William Hill at the time of writing.  

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

Like several in the field, Chti Balko (8/1) proved easy enough to back (quoted 11/1 in the initial show).

The selection ran his race from the front on ground that looked quicker than the good to soft reported overnight. Theo Gillard upped the pace off the home bend to go four lengths clear but the closers made up their ground before the penultimate flight where he was swamped and quickly beaten - he eventually came home sixth, only managing to beat the best-backed horse in the race Shantou Express (11/5f).

The spoils went to the mare Vision Du Puy (11/4) who backed up her recent Stratford win in some style, coming home the easy six length winner. Nordic Combined (9/1) ran his best race this term to claim second while Xcitations (6/1) was a further half length adrift in third.

The official going was changed to good after the race.