Double Dutch, 25th January 2014
Chris is taking a well earned weekend off, and so it's me (Matt) in the chair for a couple of days. No joy on Friday, so let's look with fresh eyes towards Saturday's excellent fare.
Yesterday's results were as follows:
Atlantic Roller : 3rd at 13/8
Tornado Bob: 4th at 3/1
Electric Qatar : 2nd at 11/4
Shawkantango : 3rd at 3/1
Results to date:
127 winning selections from 448 = 28.35%
41 winning doubles in 120 days = 34.17%
P/L : +10.04pts (+4.22% ROI)
Here's Saturday's suggested play:
A cracking novice chase featuring 2012 Champion Hurdler, Rock On Ruby, and four unexposed exciting sorts in opposition. Rock On Ruby has been a stable star for Harry Fry, a man who has a 31% strike rate since taking out a license in late 2012. Compare that with Nicky Henderson's 24% and Paul Nicholls' 22% and you can see what a staggering achievement that is.
The horse, for his part, was foot perfect bar one minor incident in a nothing race at Plumpton on his fencing bow. The thing I loved about that was how clever he was when getting in close, and that - allied to his obvious speed as a former Champion Hurdler - will stand him in good stead here. 6/4 could look a smidge generous by ten-past-one.
Of the rest, though I fear a few, the one I like is Valdez, who looks a much better chaser than hurdler already. Rated 135 at his peak over timber, he's perched on 152 over fences after just two impressive spins. He likes the good to soft ground, and deserves to test his mettle in this better grade now. 4/1 looks about right.
The Cleeve Hurdle, and the return of Big Buck's. I'm actually sorely tempted to oppose the champ, on two counts. Firstly, he's having his first run back after 420 days off, and this is a hot race. And secondly, he's now eleven years old - was nine officially when last seen - and this is a hot race. Also, he's evens and this is a hot race.
But... he's eighteen from eighteen since 2009, and that's a monumental effort unparalleled by any horse, let alone any horse in this field. At the prices, I'm going to oppose him. You might not want to, and that's your choice, but I think he's too short in deep ground after a long layoff aged eleven.
Against him, I get two bullets, which helps, and I'm siding with Reve de Sivola and Boston Bob, though I fear a back-to-form At Fishers Cross too. Reve de Sivola loves jumping up and down in muddy puddles (as Peppa Pig's narrator might say), and he'll have his hooves caked in quag this day for sure. He's normally needed the run on seasonal debut so it was a fair enough effort when third to Celestial Halo two starts back. Last time, he showed the benefit of that run by putting ten lengths between himself and the decent Salubrious in the Grade 1 Long Walk Hurdle.
His record on heavy is 211121 and there's a good chance of it being officially heavy by the time the tapes rise for the Cleeve, as it's tipping down on Friday night (as I write).
Boston Bob loves the mud too, and he looked very good when reverting to hurdles after a couple of bungled leaps over the bigger obstacles last Spring. The first probably cost him victory in the RSA Chase, and he has a second in the staying novice hurdle at the 2012 Festival too. That was on good ground, and on heavy (or soft to heavy) his record is 311111. He needs to improve on the bare form of his hurdling runs to date, but is capable of that, and 7/2 is reasonable.
4 x 0.5pt BOG doubles as follows:
Rock On Ruby / Reve de Sivola @ 11.5/1 (SeanieMac)
Rock On Ruby / Boston Bob @ 10.34/1 (Paddy)
Valdez / Reve de Sivola @ 19.25/1 (Bet365)
Valdez / Boston Bob @ 19.25/1 (BetVictor)