Whether or not….
I was just talking to a mate who has written his family memoirs over lockdown, he tells me it is one hundred and two thousand words long. Poor the poor relatives who have to feign interest. I usually write slightly less for this little piece and its still an almighty struggle.
Not a lot of news this week apart from the weather playing havoc with the fixture list. As we have said before it must be a thankless task being a clerk of the course at the moment…. poor old Sedgefield left the decision until 12.30pm on Monday gone and were still forced to abandon. Brian Hughes who lives not far from the track backing the decision to delay as long as possible whilst some of the jockeys who had travelled from afar were not as understanding…hey ho.
As I write it looks like Wetherby will stage an all hurdles card unless conditions improve, Sandown opting for an all chase card. The really hot action in these cold days is over at Leopardstown. The Irish Champions weekend is still in its infancy but has gained in popularity. Not many British trainers go across, understandably so this year, usually citing the proximity of the Cheltenham Festival for their reluctance to attend. Doesn’t seem to stop the Irish doing well over here though come March.
A few of us should have been making our way to Dublin this weekend but there you go, maybe next year. If you haven’t been to a meeting at Leopardstown its worth making the effort, it’s a great viewing track and not too far from the city centre. A short tram ride and the Guinness is waiting. Enough of the maudlin…I was there around the turn of the century when Jessica Harrington prepped Space Trucker in a hurdle race before the gelding ran away with the Grand Annual at Cheltenham a couple of weeks later. I have never seen a horse look as fit in the paddock as Space Trucker did that day. Looking at the records I see the horse ran in the hurdle race off 139 and won at Cheltenham off 123, happy days.
It looked like Bristol de Mai would go off favourite on Saturday with what would have been his favoured heavy ground to race on. He’s been second and third in this race but has never won any race at Cheltenham so at the likely skinny odds he was not for me. Hopefully, he ‘ll run well in a re-scheduled renewal as he is a grand stayer who does his best time and time again.
Saturday’s card contains the Irish equivalent of the Champion Chase, the Arkle, the Champion Hurdle, throw in a couple of top-class handicaps and that’s the afternoon sorted. Time for a cuppa and then the Calcutta Cup starts at 4.45pm. Come on England.
Sunday has the Gold Cup and more first- rate supporting races. The big race has only attracted five runners, but they are all top class.
Selection: Cheltenham Ante Post
If Minella Indo is to retain his prominent position for the Cheltenham Gold Cup he has to win this, but he is short enough in the betting. Trainer Henry de Bromhead and jockey Rachel Blackmore have always rated this lad so Sunday we see where he stands. Talking of Rachel, it might be worth a little interest in her to be leading rider at the Cheltenham Festival she’s around 12/1 at the moment.
1. Rachel Blackmore
Selection – 3:30 Sandown – Virgin Bet Masters Handicap Chase
Not quite the same quality on show on this side of the Irish Sea but decent enough racing. The Cotswold chase which we covered last week has been rearranged for Sandown hopefully it goes ahead ok. Sandown sees a good 3-mile chase at 3.30pm. Only eight go to post but it is a reasonably open handicap. I like the look of Oliver Sherwood’s Dominateur in first time blinkers and he will relish the heavy ground. His mark has edged down to 139 after some lacklustre displays so having won last season off 137, he was quietly fancied for the Welsh National where he was tailed off, perhaps the blinkers will make the difference?
Selection – 3:45 Musselburgh – bet365 Edinburgh National Handicap Chase
The other race I cannot keep away from is the Edinburgh National over 4 miles 1 furlong at Musselburgh. A minefield to bet in but great to watch. Last year’s winner Bob Marley has the ultimate form profile …PPP so he should be ready to go well. Raymond Anderson Green always likes to have a runner in races like this and the Scottish National, which means Dino Boy won’t be far away under Conor O’Farrell. Two runners we have flagged up of late are scheduled to run Le Breuil and Fortified Bay, both have their share of weight so I will pass them over this time. Watch one of them trot up. My idea of a bet is Iain Jardine’s other runner The Delray Munky who will only have 10 stone to carry after his promising conditional rider Oakley Brown’s 7lbs claim is taken into consideration. He refused last time, which is different, but in his favour the ground was very heavy that day. At least it shows the horse has intelligence. He should be double figure odds come the weekend.
1. The Delray Munky
Anyone else keep jumping to the Free Bets section of the Racing Post website by mistake when using their phone …what a pain.
Enjoy the weekend as always.
Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.