Here I Go Again… (apologies to The Hollies)
Before I kick on, the Hollies were a pop group of a certain vintage, not close relatives of Hollie Doyle…
So, it’s been a while since I wrote for Hope Eden – a couple of years gap between sentences making me feel a bit like an unlucky criminal to be honest, but what Hope Eden want Hope Eden gets… so its back in the saddle for yours truly… and a few more weeks hard labour carrying the welter burden of trying to find something interesting to waffle on about.
For jumps lovers, this is the time the action really cranks up with a cracking race or two each weekend. What a pity paying spectators are not allowed in to appreciate at first hand the raw spectacle that is top class National Hunt racing. The telly coverage is good… but it is a bit like looking through a restaurant window and watching somebody polish off a gourmet meal. It’s just not the same is it? Go on admit it!
What is better than being paddock side when these top-class animals are ready for action… its only then you realise what athletes they are when fully revved up and ready to race. I used to like nothing better in pre health and safety days than going down to the final open ditch at Carlisle and watching close up as the runners winged the fence at full speed before battling up the final hill and the Blackwell regulars would only be travelling at two thirds the speed the good horses at Cheltenham will be doing at the weekend.
However enough of trying to be the next Alistair Down – no one comes close. So, onto Cheltenham for the Paddy Power. Racegoers of a certain vintage/pensioner… like myself, still refer to the race as the Mackeson, mind you it has had a few names in recent years. It’s usually won by a potential top class animal and names such as Dunkirk, Gay Trip, Man Alive, Bachelors Hall, Bright Highway, Fifty Dollars More, Half Free and Pegwell Bay are just some that spring to mind. Incidentally Bachelors Hall and Bright Highway both went on a couple of weeks later to win the Hennessey Gold Cup… (the Ladbroke Trophy to any junior readers) a feat you never seem to see attempted these days.
I once had the nerve to write to Neville Crump the famous Middleham trainer and ask if his novice Cancello was going to be entered for the race as I thought it had a great chance. He had the decency to reply or at least a minion did on his behalf and confirmed that was the plan. Cancello won… happy days. For some reason the race was run at Haydock that year.
Ok nurse I won’t be a moment…
I haven’t had the brass neck to email any trainer this time round but here are a few thoughts on this weekend’s big race.
Selection- 2:15 Saturday – Cheltenham: Paddy Power Gold Cup Handicap Chase
Statistics seem to be in vogue these days especially with any random scientists the PM stands in between at the Government press briefings so a look at the details behind the winners of the Mackeson/Paddy Power shouldn’t be wasted time and effort.
Most winners have come in the age range 5 to 8 years old trained by a top Southern trainer with Northern and Irish handlers hardly getting in a look in. It also pays to look for a horse that has run well at the track in a decent race and might be heading for the better races as time passes. Like most statistics the pandemic included they are as boring as hell after a while so perhaps we will stop there… paralysis by analysis sums it all up. So, a young horse who likes the track should suffice.
Three that fit the profile are ‘Simply The Betts’ of Harry Whittington’s, (I see Gavin Sheehan has been passed to ride after his broken wrist), ‘Al Dancer’ of Nigel Twiston-Davies and ‘Saint Sonnet’ Paul Nicholls. They are all at the front of the market so the prices will not be mind-blowing but there we are.
From behind my Hope Eden face mask, I like the outsider of the trio Nigel’s ‘Al Dancer’. This son of Al Namix was campaigned mostly over two miles last season but opened this season with a win over 2m5f at Newton Abbot and he has always looked to me like he would appreciate a longer trip. I guess, we’ll will find out at the weekend.
Available at around 8/1 or 9/1 at the time of writing, I believe he is certainly worth a punt.
P.S On a completely different topic, if Christmas ever happens this year…anyone sick of socks or naff perfume… perhaps a mention to the nearest and dearest that you would be pleased to receive a copy of Barry Geraghty’s autobiography would be a good idea. An excellent read that will fill the time in waiting for the Boxing Day racing to start quite nicely.
Will be in touch with next weeks blog.
Good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.