Friday, March 03, 2023

The 2023 Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso

Sixteen have been declared for tomorrow's Morebattle Hurdle (1.50 Kelso); the going is described as good to soft, soft in places. 

The race, named after a village some seven miles south of Kelso, was originally run as a conditions event over two miles two furlongs but was contested as a Class 2 handicap over two miles for the first time in 2021 when The Shunter, trained by Emmet Mullins and sent off 5/2 favourite, came home in front; 12 days later The Shunter went on to win the Paddy Power Plate at the Cheltenham Festival, connections collecting a cool £100,000 bonus in the process.

Once again the £100,000 bonus is on offer to a horse that wins the Morebattle and any race at the Festival and, once again, Emmet Mullins appears to have taken aim with Mctigue, the clear favourite for tomorrow's renewal - Mctigue holds entries in the Boodles, the Coral Cup, the Triumph and the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham.

Emmet Mullins boasts a win strike-rate of 31% with his runners this side of the Irish Sea; seven of the 12 sent off as favourite have obliged. 

Mctigue's stand-out performance this term came winning the Prix Georges de Talhouet-Roy at Auteuil in the autumn - and Mullins' charge can claim the four-year-old allowance in this handicap - but the layers aren't taking any chances and 100/30 about a horse that was subsequently beaten 29 lengths by St Donats (second at Auteuil) and then finished ninth behind Lossiemouth at Leopardstown on Boxing Day (Nusret third) doesn't make much appeal. 

Fellow Irish raider and top weight Colonel Mustard claimed third behind State Man in the County at Cheltenham last year - and holds an entry for this year's renewal.

L'eau Du Sud won the listed Prix Virelan at Auteuil in April before moving to Dan Skelton's yard; his best form to date has been on soft or heavy ground.

Teddy Blue and Tritonic finished third and eighth respectively in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury three weeks ago. 

Although Gary Moore's charge was some 12 lengths behind winner Aucunrisque, that was a commendable effort in a race where the winner broke the track record. The handicapper has dropped Teddy three pounds but that looked a hard race and this may just come a little too soon.

My selection for the Betfair, Deere Mark (pacey - likes to be played late), was withdrawn on the day on account of the ground. Trainer Sam Thomas said this of his charge in a Straight from the Stable article [RP Weekender 09-13.11.22]:

"He is an exciting horses (sic) who is not overly big but what he lacks in size he makes up for in speed.

"A strong gallop over 2m will suit him perfectly. He is among the best work horses I have, although that does not always mean he will be the best on the track, but the way he travels and quickens marks him out as a nice prospect."

Cormier won this last year off a mark of 134 before going to Cheltenham to finish seventh in the County Hurdle. 

He looked booked for fourth in the Greatwood in November but lost a couple of places in the final half furlong or so. He reverts to hurdles here after a couple of tries over the larger obstacles; off a mark just two pounds higher than last year his chance is respected.

Before his move to Sandy Thomson's yard, Benson could, correctly, be described as 'a bit of a character'. 

Sporting a first-time visor in Ascot's Betfair Hurdle (18.12.21), he never went a yard - jock Lee Edwards was pushing for the majority of the two mile trip; the pair came home eighth.

The move north has certainly brought out the best in Benson; he has finished second on three occasions and last time out won the Hair Of The Dog Handicap Hurdle at Musselburgh on New Year's Day. 

In a recent Stable Tour article [RP Weekender 01-05.02.23] the trainer explained that current owners Jimmy Fyffe and Scott Townshend had such a good time after the Morebattle dinner that they bought Benson with a view to having a runner in this year's race. 

Following the latest win at Musselburgh the trainer said:

"He has gone up 6lb for that run to 134, but I would be disappointed if there was not more to come."

Benson holds entries in the Coral Cup and the Martin Pipe.

Collingham won the Scottish County Hurdle at Musselburgh four weeks ago with stablemate Nayati 12 lengths adrift in fifth and Lebowski ninth. 

Previously in the Hogmaneigh Handicap Hurdle at Musselburgh on New Year's Day Nayati beat stablemate Collingham two lengths with Thereisnodoubt third. 

Donald McCain hinted in the Weekender recently that Nayati was inconvenienced by the drying ground that day while Lucinda Russell has said Thereisnodoubt needs two miles and heavy ground.

Lebowski looked good winning at Wetherby in December and was sent off 11/2 joint second favourite for the Scottish County Hurdle in which he led before folding tamely two out; Luca Morgan reported the gelding had run too freely. Connections fit a first-time tongue-tie tomorrow and he goes off 127; he could be well-handicapped and looks overpriced at 40/1.

Lutrell Lad finished down the field in the Swinton at Haydock last April and spent the summer racing on the Flat. He was last seen at Kempton in September and has his first run for Tom Lacey.

Clear White Light has been contesting Class 4 handicaps this season but El Muchacho's second behind First Impression at Catterick three weeks ago is a respectable effort, as is Wajaaha's second behind Little Mixup at Naas on Sunday at odds of 50/1. 

To business then. On the shortlist: Deere Mark, Cormier and Lebowski.

A number in the field like to race prominently - which should suit Deere Mark and Cormier. At the prices, last year's winner Cormier gets the nod.

Cormier is the each-way suggestion, at the time of writing 12/1 with bet365 and William Hill paying five places.


TW said...

13:50 KELS 16 Runners
1. TEDDY BLUE(GER) [RTG: 152] [WC: 10.87%] [TL: G]
2. NAYATI(FR) [RTG: 150] [WC: 10.41%] [TL: G]
3. COLLINGHAM(GER) [RTG: 151] [WC: 9.41%] [TL: A]
4. EL MUCHACHO(IRE) [RTG: 149] [WC: 8.5%] [TL: A]
5. DEERE MARK(GB) [RTG: 150] [WC: 8.27%] [TL: A]
6. WAJAAHA(IRE) [RTG: 150] [WC: 8.08%] [TL: A]
7. L'EAU DU SUD(FR) [RTG: 151] [WC: 7.1%] [TL: R]
8. TRITONIC(GB) [RTG: 153] [WC: 6.92%] [TL: A]
9. MCTIGUE(IRE) [RTG: 145] [WC: 6.43%] [TL: A]
10. LEBOWSKI(IRE) [RTG: 151] [WC: 6.21%] [TL: A]
11. THEREISNODOUBT(IRE) [RTG: 150] [WC: 4.71%] [TL: A]
12. CLEAR WHITE LIGHT(GB) [RTG: 147] [WC: 4.65%] [TL: A]
13. LUTTRELL LAD(IRE) [RTG: 151] [WC: 3.28%] [TL: A]
14. BENSON(GB) [RTG: 149] [WC: 3.2%] [TL: R]
15. CORMIER(IRE) [RTG: 147] [WC: 0.99%] [TL: A]
16. COLONEL MUSTARD(FR) [RTG: 147] [WC: 0.99%] [TL: A]

I've split my EW 5 plcs stake across Nayati and El Muchacho as the system suggests there is value in both at 20/1.

The system has completely dismissed Cormier which suggests he has every chance of winning.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for your ratings, TW.

On recent form your ratings have fared far better than my selections.

Surprised to see Collingham shorter than Nayati in the market.

Will I be able to resist a small wager on Lebowski? I think so...

TW said...

The system is a bespoke computer algorithm and in amongst a few hidden gems it is more than capable of producing lots of nonsensical output. I quite like it when the stars align and your well reasoned form study matches the system output.

Cormier clearly has a much better chance of winning than 1%, I'd certainly not be laying him at 100/1!

The system does see Lebowski as being over-priced suggesting he’d be of interest at anything higher than 20/1. First time in tongue tie might be a plus, not sure if it was going right handed at Musselburgh [if so back left handed will be another plus] or the tight bends [if so Kelso might not be the answer] or both?

On balance I'll watch with interest.


GeeDee said...

They appeared to go quick up front in the Morebattle with a few of the fancied sorts falling by the wayside from two out.

Of those to race prominently top weight Colonel Mustard (6/1) fared best, leading over the final flight but having no answer to Benson (11/1) who went by on the run-in to win by two lengths.

L'eau Du Sud (9/1) finished third ahead of Thereisnodoubt (40/1) with Tritonic 14/1) fifth.

After the race winning jockey Ryan Mania indicated the partnership had missed the start and were struggling from some way out but it all came good in the end.

Selection Cormier (22/1) was also slow at the start; unlike the winner however he made no appreciable impression on his rivals and came home tenth, beaten 24 lengths.

There was plenty of money for Teddy Blue, sent off the 100/30 favourite.

Gary Moore's charge looked agitated in the paddock - and on the way to post - and was clearly keen to get on with the job in hand. In the event he did well to finish sixth while Mctigue (13/2) was the last to complete in thirteenth, eased after his chance had gone two out.