Friday, November 24, 2023

Walking a tightrope at Ascot

Tom Scudamore rode Royal Pagaille to victory by an eased-down 16 lengths in the Peter Marsh Chase at Haydock in January 2021, primarily because regular pilot Charlie Deutsch went to Ascot to ride Espoir De Guye and Fanion D'Estruval - both finished fourth in their respective races, the former behind Dashel Drasher and the latter behind First Flow.

Wiser for the experience, Charlie was aboard Royal Pagaille when beating Sam Brown half a length in the same race the following year.

Tomorrow Charlie rides Royal Pagaille in the Betfair Chase at Haydock (3.00) but I'm sure he'll empathise with weighing room colleague Harry Cobden, regular pilot of Bravemansgame, whose boss Mr Paul Nicholls informed him he goes to Ascot to ride Pic D'Orhy (1.30); Blueking D'Oroux (2.05); Farnoge (12.55); and Regent's Stroll (3.50).

Harry didn't seem best pleased with arrangements earlier in the week. There were also rumours Mr Nicholls wasn't best pleased with the ride Harry gave Captain Teague in the novice hurdle at Cheltenham on Friday.

Anyway, back down at Ascot I have to say I think previous course and distance winner Funambule Sivola - the Racing Post's top-rated - is overpriced at 16/1 in the Hurst Park (3.15).

Three weeks ago Boothill won the Byrne Group Handicap Chase over course and distance off a mark of 149 with Saint Segal third, Frere D'Armes fifth and Funambule Sivola sixth - beaten 20 lengths on his first run in a handicap chase since January 2022 when he beat The Big Bite off a mark of 152. 

I've watched the replay of that Ascot race a couple of times. 

On the day Saint Segal went hard enough up front; Venetia Williams' inmate was a beaten horse off the home bend and allowed to come home in his own time (as they often say). 

The handicapper has raised Boothill six pounds, dropped Saint Segal one pound, Frere D'Armes two and Funambule Sivola three. 

Even with Ned Fox's five pound claim, the gelding still has enough on his plate to get near the winner.

The last day though the ground was soft and the going at Ascot is currently described as good. 

To my mind, Boothill has tended to show his best form on soft ground whereas Funambule Sivola has shown his on good.

After his victory in the Game Spirit at Newbury in February (good, good to firm in places), Venetia said:

"Funambule Sivola is the fastest thing I've ever had, he's very quick. It was all speed. The owners asked me what the tactics were and I said you don't have tactics in a race like this on this type of ground, just go as fast as you can."

35 minutes later Aucunrisque made all to win the Betfair Hurdle in a course record time.

Nevertheless connections decided to send Funambule for wind surgery over the summer; this represents his second start since the operation was carried out.

On the minus side, the gelding can jump low at his obstacles and has been known to miss the odd one out - he lost ground at the seventh flight down the back last time.

Corrigeen Rock has a good record on right-handed tracks but was some way behind Black Gerry and Frere D'Armes over course and distance in April while Triple Trade looked to have a hard enough race when winning at Cheltenham eight days ago and has been raised six pounds for his trouble. 

Handler Joe Tizzard said after that victory:

"...I'm tempted to take him to Newbury in a couple of weeks' time if it's nice and soft."

With just the dead eight declared, I realise I'm walking a bit of a tightrope but Coral still go 16/1 at the time of writing; generally Funambule is quoted a 14/1 chance.

Funambule Sivola is the each-way suggestion.


TW said...

I sense a frisson of excitement within your copy and through to the selection....always the best type of bet!

Good luck


GeeDee said...

Speaking personally, TW, on past form the type of bet that tends to end in tears...


TW said...

There's more to betting than winning.

The selection process, the feeling when you think you've found one, a bet placed at what you are certain are nice odds, a glass of your favourite tipple as you sit back and visulise the run of the race once more, checking the odds the next morning to see if the market has caught on to what you've seen, lining up at the tape, the first three fences.... of course a nice ending helps!


GeeDee said...


Stage One completed.

I've drunk the drinks (hic) and Funambule now 11/1 generally, 10s in places...

Sandracer said...

8 and 9 now. The 14 and 16 went when you put your two penn'orth in ;)

GeeDee said...

Good to hear from you, Sandracer!

Trust you're keeping well.

GeeDee said...

They say the anticipation is half the fun but I'm afraid in this particular instance it was the only fun to be had for Funambule Sivola (9/1) ran a similar race to his effort over course and distance three weeks ago, without ever jumping anywhere near as well.

From an early stage the writing on the wall indicated it was going to end in tears - and that's exactly what happened.

Racing prominently, the selection was noticeably slower at his obstacles than leader Corrigeen Rock (10/1) and there was no obvious sign of improvement for the better ground as he was quickly dropped rounding the home turn. He eventually came home sixth, beaten 15 lengths which, taking Ned Fox's five pound claim into account, was the same distance he finished behind Boothill last time.

Boothill (11/4f) doubled up with victory here but he could be considered a fortunate winner as Saint Segal (5/1) was one length to the good when falling heavily at the last.

Frere D'Armes (7/2) was closing on the favourite on the run to the line and was just half a length in arrears at the post while Triple Trade (7/1) showed no ill effects from Cheltenham and claimed third spot.

Back to the drawing board, as they say. With tail between legs.

Sandracer said...

Still about. Still watching. Waiting for March 12, Cheltenham before I dive into some betting. The variables re jumps racing are a bit mind blowing to me tbh. Probably why you like it so much.

GeeDee said...

Think I should take a leaf out of your book, Sandracer, and adopt a watching brief - my wallet would certainly feel the benefit.

The jumping game these days isn't what it used to be and has more than its share of problems - Irish domination, small fields etc.

Constitution Hill is set to face a maximum of five opponents in the Fighting Fifth while there were just four and five runners respectively in the first two televised races from Ascot on Saturday - and headline horse Shishkin refused to race in the first of those.

Shishkin now has an entry in the Rehearsal Chase at Newcastle while Bravemansgame - beaten in the four runner Betfair Chase at Haydock - still remains favourite for the King George at Kempton.

Hopefully a clearer picture will emerge before we get to Cheltenham in March.