A shorter than normal Monday mish mash today, but some bits and pieces to 'edutain' nevertheless, I hope. In this round up, I'll offer my thoughts on the weekend racing; share a VERY funny video; and, add a date for your diary if you live in or near London.
So, let's crack on.
The weekend racing featured plenty of Graded action from both Newbury and Newcastle, and the highlights were the Fighting Fifth Hurdle and Hennessy Gold Cup chase, recognised stepping stones to the Champion Hurdle and Cheltenham Gold Cup respectively.
But what did we learn? Let's look first at the Fighting Fifth.
As predicted here, the 5/4 favourite, Binocular, was beaten. He's run in this race three years in succession, been sent off favourite three years in succession, and been beaten three years in succession.
But let's be clear: that didn't stop him winning the Champion Hurdle at the end of that first season; and he was close to favouritism for the race when dramatically withdrawn last season (due to drugs still being in his system).
So, as I mentioned, I backed him after his defeat at 16/1 with Boylesports, the best price available. That is now a standout best price, and most bookies - who know the rhythm of the horse - have him as 12/1 or 14/1.
Binocular ran well in truth, and if you watched the race, you'll not that he was given a hand ride. In other words, there are MUCH bigger fish to fry than this Grade 1 (which is probably a little unfair on the Newcastle racecourse executive, but I hope they know what I mean).
Of the winner, Overturn, he is teak tough. He'd won from the front in a hard enough race at Ascot last week when Oscar Whisky fell at the last, and he won from the front again here.
I can't remember a Champion Hurdle winner prevailing from the front, however, and the undulations of that track are in sharp contrast to the flat expanses of both Ascot and (relatively) Newcastle. He's a good stick, but I couldn't entertain him winning the Champion.
In the Hennessy Gold Cup, we were looking for a horse to emerge as a threat to the top of the Gold Cup market. Alas, it didn't really happen. Carruthers, a very good horse without being top class, won under an expert piece of pace judgment from Mattie Batchelor. Mattie used to ride Night Orbit for us, and he was atop one of the rides of last season, when he got up on Baggsy (another in which I owned a share) in a selling hurdle at Towcester.Â He deserves some better chances, and with luck he might now get them.
Carruthers has finished 4th in an RSA Chase and a Gold Cup, but he was a well trounced 9th last season, having bungled his chance away early on.
He did blunder a couple of times early here too, and that's the cause for concern, as in the Gold Cup there's no let up from the start. If he could get straight into a rhythm and not concede ground/energy by jumping errors, he could conceivably make the Gold Cup frame with this looking for all the world like a transitional year at the top of the staying chaser tree (Long Run excepted).
Of those in behind, this looked more like a trial for the Ryanair than the Gold Cup, with Planet of Sound and Great Endeavour possibles for that contest. Neither fully stayed this trip here and, at the more testing Cheltenham track, I'd have doubts about them getting home.
The Giant Bolster wasn't beaten far in 7th, and this chap surely needs a return to hurdling. His jumping is horrific as form figures ofÂ 1F1UF-4U7 testify. IF'fy indeed. I'd be very interested if he were to line up in a Graded hurdle over three miles or so, but he continues to be opposable over fences.
The other interesting race was the Long Distance Hurdle, in which Big Buck's was 1-8, but didn't win as those odds suggested he ought to. He did win however, and it's likely that the team have much to work on between now and his likely next engagement, the Long Walk Hurdle over the same course and distance.
Whilst I'm in no way predicting the downfall of Europe's pre-eminent hurdler (it will happen, inevitably, but not yet), this was a slightly lacklustre effort, and would have given some hope to connections of the likes of Mourad and So Young (who I backed at 20's with Boylesports - still available, as short as 12's with Paddy Power).
We'll know more when we see him at the end of December, as I'd expect him to be close to concert pitch by then.
Not much to report elsewhere, with Paul Nicholls' other pair of Newbury winners, Prospect Wells and Rock On Ruby, looking good but not great. Both have engines and may be suited to Cheltenham but I'd be surprised if the former was good enough to be Champion Hurdle class, while the latter only served to advertise the Supreme Novices' prospects of Steps To Freedom, who looks interesting at around 10/1.
Onwards, and just a quick line to tell you that if you live in or near to London, and fancy that you know a thing or two about racing, there's the London Racing Club Christmas Quiz on Wednesday 7th December.
The challenge is to knock ATR's Barry Faulkner's team off their perch, and it's a tough challenge indeed! It's free and full details are on the below link:
And finally, to cheer up what might be an otherwise unsavoury Monday for you, this was something I was sent last night, and sent by someone else again. It's gone viral pretty quickly, and just shows how much we enjoy other people's misfortune.
p.p.s. If you've got facebook, and you liked this post, don't forget to 'Like' it using the button below. It seems, simply liking stuff isn't enough any more, you've got to tell others about it too! 😉