Friday, November 10, 2023

The 62nd running of the Badger Beer Handicap Chase at Wincanton

Eleven have been declared for tomorrow's Badger Beer Handicap Chase (2.25 Wincanton); the going is currently described as soft, good to soft in places.

At the time of writing Threeunderthrufive heads the market with stablemate Frodon in close attendance.

Threeunderthrufive's best performance since his sixth behind L'Homme Presse in the Brown Advisory Novices' Chase at the 2022 Cheltenham Festival was his final run of last season - he finished fourth behind Kitty's Light in the Scottish Grand National on good ground at Ayr. 

Connections will hope that the wind surgery carried out over the summer will help eke out further improvement.

Frodon won last year's renewal of this race off a mark of 158 and tries to repeat the trick off the same mark this year; the going last time was good to firm. The likelihood is Frodon will have had this race as his target for some time. 

Connections of both The Big Breakaway and Ashtown Lad have said the Becher at Aintree next month is their main target.

I fancied The Big Breakaway for the Ultima at Cheltenham in March on the back of his second behind The Two Amigos in the Welsh National at Chepstow. 

Unfortunately he struggled to keep tabs on the pace setters that day and was one of the first beaten. He hasn't raced at Wincanton before but with the front-running Frodon bowling along at the head of affairs I'd be concerned something similar might happen again.

Like Frodon, Sam Brown is a few weeks short of his twelfth birthday. 

In April 2022 he won the Betway Handicap Chase at Aintree in something of a common canter. He underwent wind surgery in April before coming to grief at the Chair in the National and then falling at the penultimate flight when two lengths clear in a handicap at the Punchestown Festival.

On his day Sam Brown is very capable. 

Handler Anthony Honeyball also saddles Forward Plan, Gustavian and Blackjack Magic. 

Forward Plan looks up against it racing from seven pounds out of the handicap while in a Straight from the Stable piece [RP Weekender 23-27.11.22] the trainer said of Gustavian:

"His trouble is that he tends to jump nine of his ten fences like an old pro and then really balls one up." 

Blackjack Magic has just the four chase starts to his name.

When the final declarations came through and the race priced up, I thought 14/1 about Certainly Red of interest. 

Out of four visits to Wincanton, Lydia Richards' charge has won three times over the distance and finished second over a trip of two and a half miles. 

I watched a replay of the gelding's last victory at the track in the Dick Hunt "Wigmore" Handicap Chase in February; he didn't look the easiest of rides that day, jumping out left on occasions and not always clean at the obstacles, all of which tempered initial enthusiasm.

Dan Skelton saddles Ballygrifincottage and Ashtown Lad.

The former looked something special when beating Beauport in the St Helens Novices' Chase at Haydock this time last year but his jumping went to pieces in the Towton at Wetherby where he broke a blood vessel and the jumping problems were still apparent on seasonal reappearance at Newton Abbot three weeks ago.

Ashtown Lad mixed hurdling and chasing last year. 

He beat Gesskille in the Becher and that race is clearly the target this term. This is his first run on a right-handed track but he has run well on seasonal debut in the past. 

Courtland has been busy through the summer and would probably prefer better ground.

With Sam Brown now as low as 6/1 in places, at double the price I'm going to take a chance on Ashtown Lad being fit enough to do himself justice; Tristan Durrell claims five and got the job done on Knickerbocker Glory at Ascot last Saturday.

Ashtown Lad is the each-way suggestion, 12/1 in several places, with most layers paying four places.


TW said...

161,4.66,SAM BROWN(GB)

The going at Wincanton this morning is Good to Soft, Soft (in places).

There is no doubt Gustavian can ...really balls one up but if he can manage to get over the 21 obstacles he looks a well handicapped horse to the system. There are 3 pieces of form in his CV that I like. His 2nd to Moroder [Jan 2022], finishing in front of Midnight River off level weights [Mar 2022] and his win at Exeter [Feb 2023] with a winning time of 5m 57.14s on good ground, Kitty's Light has the best time over the last 5-years of 5m 51.4s of good to firm. All of which suggests the if he can put in a clear round 25/1 is too big.

Tristan's claim will help but Ashtown Lad has always looked up against it when his mark goes north of 140. I hope I'm wrong.

Good luck!


GeeDee said...

Thanks for providing your ratings, TW.
Hopeful rather than confident, as they say... :)

Good luck!

GeeDee said...

The pace looked fairly generous up front in the Badger Beer with the ground drying out.

The Big Breakaway (9/1) took over the running from Frodon (5/1) before the fifth but relinquished the lead to eventual winner Blackjack Magic (5/1) at the thirteenth.

Anthony Honeyball's charge has been known to make the odd mistake but he jumped immaculately here and stayed on strongly to see off the challenge of Threeunderthrufive (3/1f) at the final flight, coming home three lengths to the good, with Frodon third a further fourteen lengths adrift.

Selection Ashtown Lad (14/1) raced wide in sixth for much of the trip but a mistake five out put paid to his chance and he was pulled up in the home straight.