Hallelujah… a winner… see final paragraph.
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I thought this might be an opportune time to mention two National Hunt horses in the Hope Eden stable. Firstly, Em Meme Temps who made his long-awaited debut in a Novices’ Limited Handicap chase at Ayr last Tuesday, and what a cracking debut it was. Always in the first three and never making the semblance of an error EMT was only run out of first place by the Olly Murphy trained favourite African Dance. Hopefully the son of Saddler Maker can go one better next time up.
The other lad worth a mention is the much travelled six-year-old Lethal Steps who is now enjoying some box rest with Phil Kirby prior to being readied for a spring campaign. The grey may well be the type to benefit from the North Yorkshire air as he seemed to have become disillusioned with life in the Emerald Isle after being tried at a decent level on several occasions. To date he has been trained by Ger Lyons, ran in the Group One National stakes, Andrew Balding then off to Gordon Elliot and Denise Foster before his latest move back over the Irish sea. Once the gelding’s head stops spinning Phil is just the man to rekindle his enthusiasm. Fascinating to see how he does… the horse not the trainer… but it will be a good test of the trainer as well.
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I was surprised Bryony Frost was given a two-day ban for her ride on Yala Enki at the weekend apparently for an incident after the third fence from home. To me it just looked like normal race riding but the times they are a changing as Bob used to sing. Interesting to see if they decide to appeal …perhaps VAR might be heading for a racecourse near you.
Talking of surprises last week’s news contained another. The story about trainers in Ireland using an unlicensed individual to treat tendon injuries seems to have stirred up rumours of an unsavoury nature….be interesting to see how it develops. Racing either side of the Irish Sea cannot afford any more bad news stories at the moment.
One good news story from last weekend was Midnight Shadow’s success in the Paddy Power. Not only because we selected it… 11/1 available… but seeing the resurgence of Ryan Mania in the saddle after his retirement in 2014 when he went off to work in hunting. Since his return he has slowly been rebuilding his career, he did us another good turn when Seeyouatmidnight won the Veterans Final at Sandown back in January and is now riding better than ever.
Let’s hope he can stay injury free and achieve more success.
More good racing this weekend not least at Haydock where the Betfair Chase is the highlight. Not a race for me to bet in but I think it might be the day to oppose A Plus Tard he is pretty short in the market, he didn’t win first time up last season admittedly over two miles, throw in that trainer Henry de Bromhead’s runners seem to be needing their first run …Put the Kettle On the most recent example. All in all, a favourite to swerve. I had forgotten that our old friend Waiting Patiently had moved from Ruth Jefferson to Christian Williams, Brian Hughes has kept the ride though. It would be typical if the fickle Gods of Racing decided this was the moment for Waiting Patiently to have his day in the spotlight on ground he will appreciate.
Selection – 12:40 Haydock: Because We’re Betfair Stayers’ Handicap Chase
As you will no doubt be aware I can’t resist handicap chases as a betting opportunity. Two 3mile plus chases at Haydock catch the eye. They won’t be the usual slugfest on the prevailing ground, but they are still worth a look. The first at 12.40 is a 0-135 3m four-and-a-half-furlong contest with eleven declared. The youngest horse in the race Furius De Ciergues catches the eye off bottom weight. Last time out he finished a staying on third at Cheltenham to Strictlyadancer… Of whom more later… only beaten 2 and ¾ lengths. The improving winner is now rated 122 whilst our selection runs here off 109 so he must have a squeak. Ollie Greenall’s horses are in cracking form and at around 9/1 his lad is worth a punt.
1. Furius De Ciergues
Selection – 3:35 Haydock: My Odds Boost On Betfair Handicap Chase
The last race is a corking 0-145 3m 1and a half furlongs handicap at 3. 35. Only seven go to post which is disappointing, but the ground is taking its toll at the moment. Christian Williams’ Strictlyadancer… yes him again… will start a short-priced favourite in his bid for a hat trick following his two impressive Cheltenham wins. Last week he took the field apart in the Amateurs race after three out, and looked like he was waiting for company when idling on the run in. I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him but as he will most likely start at south of 2/1, I am happy to look elsewhere. One that does look good value is Sandy Thomson’s seven-year-old Empire Steel. Quietly progressive last season he ended the season being pulled up in the Grade One Mildmay Novices chase at Aintree. He was up against some quality novices that day such as Chantry House Shan Blue and Fiddlerontheroof to name the first three home, so connections obviously feel they have talented horse on their hands. I am prepared to forgive him that one poor run where jockey Ryan Mania said the gelding hung badly right-handed which doesn’t augur well for Haydock. However, watching the race again, he was going ok on the first circuit so perhaps he may have knocked himself as the race progressed. Let’s hope at around 5/1 he can give Ryan Mania another good pay day.
1. Empire Steel
Over at Ascot a race I liked the look of was the 2mile 1f chase at 3. 15pm. After spending some time arriving at a selection it wasn’t a happy bunny who read that the chosen one was not declared to run…. doh. However, keep an eye out for Belargus in the next few weeks as I think he has a good handicap in him for trainer Nick Gifford.
While I was typing these pearls of non-wisdom, I was listening to Leonard Cohen’s Greatest Hits … what a voice …. A Grade One performer sadly no longer running.
Cheers and as always, have a good weekend.
Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.