Must Do Better
I don’t think we can blame Storm Arwen for blowing last week’s selections off course tempting as it may be. We only really had some sort of run from Elusive Belle and even she was back tracking before the turn into the Newbury straight. Kitty’s Light was squeezed jumping the first and lost a prominent position, from then on, he was always struggling to get back to the main bunch. Notachance from what I could see, through the snow, lived up to his name and perhaps last season’s promise will not be fulfilled.
Moving swiftly on it looks like the North might have a top class chaser once again. Lucinda Russell’s Ahoy Senor was very impressive when hacking up in the “John Francome” Grade 2 novices chase at Newbury last Saturday. Let’s hope the six-year-old stays injury free and goes right to the top.
This week saw the start of two high profile cases involving racing. Firstly, Freddie Tylicki’s claim against fellow jockey Graham Gibbons got under way in the High Court. A day later the start of BHA disciplinary hearing to determine whether Robbie Dunne is guilty of bullying Bryony Frost. Whichever way both cases are decided I cant help but think there will be no winners at the end of the day. Just like this column I hear the cynic at the back shouting out.
More cracking action this weekend. Sandown has two ‘Group Ones’ in the form of the Henry VIII Novices Chase plus the Tingle Creek Chase. Small gripe time… I wish the TV cameras could show all the “railway fences “side on at Sandown but they usually switch to head on after the water jump which doesn’t allow the armchair viewer to appreciate the runners jumping at speed…. end of gripe. Throw a tasty 3m5f handicap in the mix and that’s me sorted. Then Aintree pops up by offering the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase and the Grade 3 Becher Chase…. then Wetherby and Chepstow both serve up decent cards and the National Hunt fan is well looked after. All that’s needed are some winners.
Selection – 2:40: Aintree – Unibet Becher Handicap Chase
Do we file the Becher under too blooming difficult or it’s a tempting race to bet in? it’s a no brainer really, who cannot resist a punt over the National fences certainly not me. The going as of Thursday was soft good to soft in places so perhaps its wise to look amongst the lighter weights for the winner. However, we will leave the wise men to arrive nearer Christmas and take a chance with Henry de Bromhead’s top weight Chris’s Dream who is the class act in the field. As usual there are a whole host in with chances but watching a rerun of this year’s National it was noticeable how well this lad had jumped until… spoiler alert … he unseated Darragh O’Keefe four from home. The pace was quickening at that point, and it may have been that Chris’s Dream’s stamina was just beginning to be found wanting. Whatever the reason the shorter trip on Saturday must surely be in his favour. He was still in last week’s Ladbrokes Trophy until the declaration stage so perhaps connections think this is a better option. Jonjo junior has the mount with stable jockey Rachael Blackmore heading to Sandown, at around 10/1 I reckon we will get a run for our money.
1. Chris’s Dream
Selection – 3:00 Sandown: Betfair Exchange London National Handicap Chase
Across at Sandown the 3.00 pm London National over 3m5f has an open look to it but comes with the caveat on the BHA website that some fences may be omitted due to the low sun so perhaps jumping might not be quite so important which is a shame. Our old friend Strictlyadancer is favourite and will take all the beating going for a four timer, but his price will reflect that. This time I am tempted by one of the low weights, Oliver Sherwood’s Seaston Spirit who has form over these marathon trips. This together with the booking of Sam Twiston Davies have persuaded me that this eight-year-old is good value at his advertised 20/1.This gelding a son of Kayf Tara was also entered in the 4mile Borders National at Kelso on Sunday, perhaps his covid pass wasn’t in order and he would have ben turned back at Gretna, but Sandown is certainly easier to get to from Lambourn.
1. Seaston Spirit
Selection – 1:50 Sandown: Close Brothers Henry VIII Novices’ Chase
Anybody thumbing through the upcoming Sandown card with burnt fingers, err is that possible? might have a look at the runners for the 1.50pm Henry VIII chase. Paul Nicholls has declared last week’s facile Newbury winner Il Ridoto. It is a big step up for the four-year-old and he won’t be able to cruise round as he did last time against handicappers. However, at around 8/1 I am prepared to take a chance to see if he has the potential against the impressive Skelton runner Third Time Lucki.
1. Il Ridoto
So, there we are, three more against the world which after last week’s debacle obviously come with a health warning… next slide please.
Whichever way you go good luck and have a profitable weekend.
Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.