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CHELTENHAM OPEN MEETING DEBRIEF
CHELTENHAM 16-Nov-12 C&H: Good to Soft (Good in places) C&H: 6.9
By Dan Kelly – 28yo student of the Sport of Kings, Form-bookworm. Result is not only about who and the what, it’s just as much about the how and why – Author of http://racingtictacs.wordpress.com
1:15 – Novices’ Chase 2m 4f 110y
High quality Novices’ Chase, but Dynaste won this fairly emphatically. Jumping well for Tom Scudamore, he came to challenge coming into the straight and sealed the win with a good jump at the last. Not devoid of pace, they didn’t go a searching clip here, I wouldn’t be afraid to stick at this trip for now. Connections are looking at same route as Grands Crus; Newbury and Feltham, but does he have the stamina for the RSA and with Our Father running well later on the card, will Pipe want to be double handed. Still, for the time being he showed more than enough to suggest he should be prominent in Ante Post markets for both Jewson and RSA.
Not sold on Fingal Bay’s at all, he didn’t impress me at Chepstow, not sailing over fences as opposed to Dynaste, he idled badly at Chepstow and for now I doubt we’ll ever see the horse that beat Simonsig at Sandown. Injury meant he missed Cheltenham last year, but before that he had a tough campaign early door, Persian War, Open Meet, Sandown and Challow, the last two were on desperate ground. One to swerve for the time being.
Unioniste put up a fair performance for a 4yo here in third, half bro to My Will 3m assignment looks on the cards.
Carlito Brigante was still there coming into the straight, but gave way. Rated 140, he’s bound to be back here in March for either the Novices’ H’Cap Chase or the Bryne Plate.
1:50 – Handicap Chase 2m
Not blown away by any of the first 3 home; Shooters Wood a former Hunter Chaser, application of tongue tie, 2m trips have seen form figures of 2221, now rated 132 will find it tough. Wetak improved for his run at Ascot, he has won both his chase starts in France over 2m2f yet relatively disappointed over further, so could see him return for the Jenny Mould Memorial Chase in December. Silver Roque continued his rich vein of form and connections should be seeking to take advantage of a lenient hurdle mark of 104.
Astracad has been dropped 1lb for this run and no doubt he too will come back for the Jenny Mould Memorial Chase next month, where he will be looking to win it off 6lb higher mark. Race will be ran over the New course, which has a long run to the 2nd last and is 110y further.
Kid Cassidy once again was in another post code for the majority of the race and as you can see from above the first 4 home were front rank throughout. Will we see him before the Grand Annual, that is the question.
This was a fair effort from Oh Crick and his jockey Joshua Newman. Joshua was only having his 6th ride here and acquitted himself well, allowing Oh Crick have daylight out wide and jumping well enough throughout. He has been dropped to 142 for this run and you’d think he will be able to win off that when given a slightly stiffer test either ground or trip.
2:25 – Sharp Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 110y
Farcical pace resulted in a sprint for home, which Dodging Bullets won. Ran some good races as a juvenile, 2nd in the Dovecote, 4th in Triumph and badly hampered at Aintree, he is one of the early markers when it comes to the Supreme Novice and that is the ultimate target, however it wouldn’t surprise me that even off levels couple behind him turn form round in March.
River Maigue won the Ayr bumper that Nicky Henderson usually sends a good one too, however on debut last year he was keen and here too he was a little keen. Hurdled well in the main, done for toe slightly coming into the straight (p2p winner where Dodging Bullets a mile winner on flat) but he will win soon enough.
Knocked sideways when saw the mark handicapper has given Court Minstrel, 131. He was held up off pace at Aintree in bumper, held up off pace on hurdles debut here in October and you could see from the off he was beat, but to his credit he ran a very sound race. Pulled a bit at times, he came into the straight with chances but jumped slightly left at last, bumping into Magic Spear 10yds after the flight and in 5th place, rallied well to finish a never near 3rd. Off 131 connections must surely now look at handicap route for him. We’ve seen in recent years with Darlan and Get Me Out Of Here that the Ladbroke/Betfair (formerly Totesport) is a decent route to the Supreme. To run in the Ladbroke he needs to have competed a minimum of three times in Hurdle Races, so they could look for a race in next week or two or keep him back for a tilt at the Betfair if they choose that route.
Duke Of Navan got a wakeup call early from Tominator, keen and very wide as they left the stands. Nicky Richards said following his win at Newcastle they’d look for a nice little race with him, this was a nice little race indeed and the strength of it could point to the regard he is held in, or a sighter for what Nicky Richards has at home, Eduard.
Tominator didn’t jump well on debut and was slow at times here. Northumberland Plate winner, a step up in trip must be on the horizon.
CHELTENHAM 17-Nov-12 Soft (Heavy in places) 5.8
Ground was the softest it had been for some years, January 2010 matched it, slight worse in January 2009 – In short, tough work.
12:45 – Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 110y
Far West enhanced the favourable impression of Chepstow here and now takes his place at the head of the Triumph betting. Nicholls had schooled him extensively prior to his Chepstow run and his jumping again was slick. Has a bit of knee action going on, so you’d worry about quicker ground, especially given the Triumph is on the Friday, but this ground got Heavy fairly quickly after only 6mm of rain, so could we be looking at a Soft Ground Festival?
Vasco Du Ronceray came into this race on the back of a facile win at Hereford and hindered his chances by being keen early. Coming into the straight Barry Geraghty looked fairly comfortable, touching a low of 1.33 in running, but after the last he was put in his place fairly readily.
1:15 – Novices’ Chase 3m110y
Can’t help but be impressed by Our Father who turned this sound looking Novices’ Chase into a bit of a procession. Always been well regarded by connections, he is now 3 from 3 on seasonal debut, so there is a worry that he is best fresh but I think there has been excuses for below par runs. If reviewing his Ascot win last year, he looked very green still when hitting the front, travelling like the best horse throughout the race, similarly when beat at Chepstow when 4/9 fav and at Newbury as a novice. Pertemps would have been a further shock to the system and Aintree he didn’t run well at all. Another summer on his back, he comes back here bigger and better and you would hope he’d carry his form through the season this year. Sire Collonges again put up a bold jumping display, he was giving 8lbs to Our Father and in time this form will look a bit better than it does currently. Disappointed by Masters Hill here however Joe Tizzard made a point to the stewards that he was never travelling and as per review of his Chepstow run was unsure if he was the sort to catch fresh, still, I expect him to bounce back.
1:55 – Handicap Chase (Grade 3) 3m 3f 110y
Ding dong battle up the run in between two improving horses in Monbeg Dude and Bradley. Monbeg Dude unseated his rider here back in October when chance was not gone and if you look beyond the run at Newbury in March his form looks solid; Good 3rd to Glens Boy, a winner over 3miles at Lingfield and a point to point winner on easy ground at 5 so off his revised mark he could pop up in races of this nature/regional nationals before a tilt at the Welsh National next year. Bradley confirmed the promise shown back here in October when finishing behind Balthazar King and comments then still apply now, still relatively lightly raced and will run race when conditions suit, easy ground 3m+.
There was a lot to like about Viking Blond’s performance. Fought off numerous contenders for the lead and didn’t buckle till late. Pulled up in last year’s Welsh National, he is 5lbs lower this time around and is worthy of another chance there. Any Currency hung late on, all wins have come on RH tracks, but connections seem to want to go for Beecher Chase rather than London National. Problema Tic ran well for a long way on ground he’d have hated, earlier in the season races like Charlie Hall, Hennessy and United House Gold Cup was mentioned, so the 2lb drop to 142 won’t go amiss when conditions favour him. Chicago Grey hit the 4th last hard, he is no forlorn hope off his mark and Carruthers is now 2lbs below his Hennessy winning mark, if they can find some good ground for the latter he could be interesting.
14:35 – Paddy Power Gold Cup Chase (Grade 3 Handicap) 2m 4f 110y
Breathtaking performance by Al Ferof off 11-8 and it’s no surprise he is now generally 2nd Fav for the King George, but what happened last year? After reviewing this race a few times I think his worst jumps were at the last two fences and he wandered late on too. No doubt many will think he was feeling the weight and conditions taking the toll on him, but I think he is a bit of a thinker. His form in double figure fields now reads F13112F111, single figure fields 3111343, the two falls were on debut in p2p and when 3 lengths clear 2 from home here in Dec 10. His final 3 runs last year where in single figure fields, at Ascot, wide and didn’t travel, Arkle led at the 9th then duly banked the 10th and Aintree wilted after making it. Be interesting to see the number of runners in this year’s King George and if a small field, whether Ruby will try bury him out the rear early doors.
Walkon was thrown in off his mark of 143 given the form of Exeter run and that the ground had come into his favour. Raised only 5lbs to 148 be interesting to see if he can hold his form back here in December and could be a fair price if people desert him due to it being his second start.
Nadiya De La Vega ran a very fine race to finish 3rd to back up her good win here in October.
Of those beaten, Poquelin chance was gone from fall of flag, held up, on ground softer than ideal, 3lb drop to 160. Ground on quicker side in December, then he’d be high on the shortlist as the equivalent race is sponsored by Stewart Family and Poquelin’s form on New Course is superior to that of the Old Course. Grands Crus and Hunt Ball were the main disappointments of the race. Grands Crus didn’t travel with his usual zest, yet every possibility he was feeling the ground as he hasn’t convinced on easy ground, but connections are also looking at breathing op. Hunt Ball got beat off 102 on Heavy ground last year and he too may have been inconvenienced by conditions, he will likely strip fitter for the run too and I’d look at a Graduation Chase to get him back on straight and narrow, or maybe a tilt at the Peterborough Chase and pit himself against Cue Card.
3:05 – Handicap Hurdle (Listed) 3m 1f 110y
Not sold on the form of this race. Lovcen is too high in the weights, they have and eye on chasing for Goulanes, Themilanhorse would have hated conditions and he too is seemingly destined for chases. There was a fair bit to like about Cross Kennon run however. You would think that a tilt at the Rendlesham, which he won in 2011 and was 2nd in last year, will be a target and possibly a run in a Pertemps qualifier on the way to Haydock.
CHELTENHAM 18-Nov-12 Soft 5.5
Ground once again made it hard work today for all.
1:10 – The November Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) 2m
Captain Conan had this won a long way from home, confirming the impression that he was every inch a chaser when competing over hurdles. Winner of the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle, he disappointed in Ireland, but form behind Tap Night and Darlan was enough to see him rated 140+ and throughout the season Henderson was shouting “chaser”. Form at Sandown and with his bold jumping, he could be one for the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase in a few weeks if stablemate Simonsig goes to Newbury.
Sire De Grugy wasn’t great early doors at his fences, but improved as race went on. He relishes flat tracks and even though this was a fair performance, you’d expect better back at Kempton and is still a novice to be excited by.
Third Intention jumped big early and Joe Tizzard made a point at trying to hold him for a late run, but a mistake at 2nd last cost any chance of second place. He will be better seen off a quicker pace and he could be a novice to have onside for the Handicaps in March/April if not too high in the weights.
1:45 – Intermediate Handicap Hurdle 2m 5f
Race became a one horse race early doors with Double Ross and Sam Twiston Davies not seeing another rival. Keen earlier in his career he settled well here and he certainly relished these conditions; Form on Soft or worse: 313232, form includes Challow Hurdle, a Supreme Novices’ Trial and 3rd in the Swinton. Conditions should be in his favour this weekend at Haydock, so be interesting to see if he is a runner.
This was only Close House’s 4th run over timber and it left the impression that there’s a good race in him this season. This run also gives the option of stepping upto 3m as he didn’t lack for stamina late on.
San Telm enjoyed the ease in the ground and enhanced the form of his Haydock win. Held up out the back, he made a move possibly too early to get second, but had no chance with the winner from position. Yesyoucan is still entered at Haydock this weekend and be interesting to see how he gets on.
2:50 – Racing Post Hurdle (Grade 3 Handicap) 2m 110y
A fair renewal of the race formerly known as the Greatwood, but not a piece of form I’m overly sold on at first glance.
Olofi finally got his win under the belt, well deserved after so many near misses, 5th here in 2010, 2nd in 2011 he also finished 5th in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury last year, so the fondness for 2m handicaps is there, as is the ground preference having won here in Dec 09 in soft ground. Backers had a moments worry when Danny Cook on Bothy shut the door on him coming into the straight, but had more than enough in reserve to hold off challenges up the hill. You would think he’d have been cherry ripe for this, whereas others may have had other targets on their mind.
Cash And Go previously with Edward O’Grady had Grade 1 form on Heavy ground in Ireland and he put up a fair effort on stable debut here. He didn’t convince in his hurdling at times, but stuck on well enough for a clear second, off 141 his mark is fair yet campaign is more Handicap Hurdles than Champion Hurdle trials.
Cause Of Causes once again showed liking of a 2m Handicap Hurdle, 2nd in Galway Hurdle, he was running here under a penalty after his win at Fairyhouse. Being owned by Timeform Betfair Racing Club, you would think that the Ladbroke and Betfair Hurdle are targets for this son of Dynaformer.
Bothy ran his usual honest race in 4th and is another who is suited to these type of races and is credit to connections. Glam Gerry got going all too late, similar to his run at the Festival over fences, there is a big one in him, but it’s likely everything will have to fall right for him.
3:25 – The Hyde Novices’ Hurdle (Grade 2) 2m 5f
For me this was one of the best performances’ of the weekend, Coneygree running away with a very hot looking Grade 2 Novices’ Hurdle. He created a favourable impression at Uttoxeter on hurdling bow, enhanced his reputation today. His Newbury run aside, where keen early, wide and allowed to coast home in final few furlongs, then he has a very exciting profile. All wins have come with ease in the ground, he has shown ability to sit off the pace or make it and if making he can power away from them. This was a quality renewal too, we had Bondage come into this race on a back of a convincing handicap win rated 145, According To Trev rated 143 following game win at Showcase Meet, where as in previous years race has been littered with 120-130 types. Question has to be what next, half brother Carruthers ran in the Albert Bartlett as a Novice and be interesting to see if they come back here in December for the 3 mile race. Not many are on my Festival shortlist, but he most definitely is and the unfashionable connections mean we are looking at a very fair price.
Others in behind deserve a mention too. I Shot The Sheriff once again showed his efficiency over hurdles, but detested the ground. Awaywiththegreys didn’t really travel today as such was slightly disappointing given conditions should have suited. Creepy was the eyecatcher though, making good move from top of the hill, he fiddled the second last and lost all chance after not really impressing with his jumping throughout. Connections had Champion Court in this race last year and even though not of that class just yet, he’s one to have on side when he reappears in the New Year.