It's the final Monday Mish Mash before Christmas, and in something of a 'no news' update, I've got my take on the weekend racing action, and a look ahead to what's coming up. Plus prize winner Paul does the standard 'cheesy grin with cheque' pose for all. 🙂
So let's take a look at the weekend's racing just passed, and see if there aren't any pointers to the future. Well, to be honest, if there were, then I missed them.
Big Buck's extended his winning run to fourteen with another facile win over not much opposition. To his credit, he did it emphatically, and he can't do any more than that. But if we learned anything, it is that Dynaste is probably not a realistic contender for the World Hurdle.
In fact, the more I think about it, the more I believe that So Young is the each way bet to nothing. Sure, he has to improve at least ten pounds from his current mark of 149 to be in with a realistic chance. But the handicapper can only rate him on what he's done, and winning a three runner contest in facile fashion from horses rated in the low 140's is not World Hurdle form... yet. Those comments may also apply to a Navan Sunday winner, and more of that in a moment.
He's entered both in a Listed contest on Thursday over two miles, and in a Grade 1 on 29th. He'll surely go for the former, and will again have to win comfortably despite the trip being on the sharp side, even on the projected heavy ground.
Getting back to Ascot at the weekend, Five Dream and Restless Harry plugged on well for second and third, but neither was in the same county as the winner at the finish line. (For the record, Big Buck's was in the county of Berkshire, while the silver and bronze medallists were still making their way over from neighbouring Surrey...)
One notable performance was that of The Minack in the handicap chase on Ascot's Saturday card. He lugged 11-01 to a stout staying victory here, and might be an each way play at a fat price for the Gold Cup. He'll stay far better than many, and is still improving. In a year where there are few with robust credentials (barring the favourite, Long Run), places will be up for grabs.
Incidentally, I'll be bringing you a preview of the Gold Cup in the next few days, just in time for it to look potentially preposterous as many of the blue riband aspirants have their post-Christmas trial spins! That's how we roll here at geegeez 😉
Over at Fairyhouse, Blazing Tempo did the biz over 2m2f, and she'll be aimed most likely at the Ryanair Chase at the Festival, but connections are also talking about a possible hurdles tilt. If she turns up in a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in March, she'd be of serious interest.
It was oh so hard going at Haydock in the Tommy Whittle, and Pearlysteps might well have got back up to beat the winner, Cannington Brook, had he not tumbled at the last. Cannington was ten lengths clear of Our Island jumping the last, but stopped to a walk on the run in and just held on.
Whether he idled or was plain knackered is the subject of conjecture, but his record of seconds and thirds is a worry, and the way he finished off here did little to dispel the belief that this may be an expensive horse to follow in the main.
To Sunday and, aside from Stat of the Day getting off the cold list with a nice 6/1 winner (backed in to 9/2), there was little of note this side of the Irish Sea. However, over Navan way, things were of mild interest.
The opening Grade 2 hurdle was won easily by Zaidpour, who landed odds of 1/3 in the process. This was little more than a schooling round and proved little more than Zaidpour still has a leg in each corner. It will be interesting to see where he heads next and, like So Young, the World Hurdle is a realistic option down the line, with a fair bit to prove 'twixt the cup of now and the lip of then.
Boston Bob was a good winner of the Grade 1 Navan Novice Hurdle over 2m4f, and this puts him near the top of the tree for Irish novice hurdlers. From a punting perspective, it's hard to know whether he'll be pitched towards the 2m5f or the 3m novice at the Festival. Considering the state of the ground and the way he was going away at the finish, I'd think the greater test of stamina would suit better.
Boston Bob is 12's for the Albert Bartlett and 14's for the Neptune which reflects layers' uncertainty. For now, it's a watching brief, and I'd still favour Fingal Bay if the two were to cross hooves.
And that, dear reader, was that. Not a lot to get too excited about, and this week does little to allay the nagging contention that we are now amidst a brief lull: the doldrums of the week before Christmas, which will soon break into a storm of tip top racing from Boxing Day through to January 2nd.
To fill that hiatus, I'll be looking - as I said - at the Cheltenham Gold Cup, and trying to find one or two likely to shorten as a consequence of a good performance over the said festive period. Obviously, my primary concern for any selection is that they will be suited by the conditions of the March race, so we'll see how those deliberations pan out.
I'll also have news of a freebie betting system, and how you can get it. There are more than enough things to be spending cash on just now, so a spot of festive freeness might be welcome.
Talking of such things, step forward the ravishing Paul Whitworth, for it was he who copped the £250 of free readies for entering the geegeez Prize Draw. Below is a picture Paul was kind enough to take, and he even managed to get a shot of the website in the background! Above and beyond the call of duty. Top Man! 🙂
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Thanks a lot, and I'll be back with that preview, most likely on Wednesday.