Just been reading this week that Cheltenham are struggling to get a sponsor for this year’s Gold Cup, I don’t know about anyone else, but I think the Hope Eden Gold Cup has a certain ring to it! Get moving sponsorship department and strike whilst the opportunity is hot…. just an idea.
This column is beginning to contain more obituaries these days which is a bit sad but there you go. This week I was sorry to see that M.L.” Taffy” Thomas had died. The Welshman was a popular lightweight jockey in the years encompassing the early sixties to the late eighties the period when specialist lightweights were worth their weight in gold. He had an excellent record in big handicaps and won the Northumberland Plate, the Cambridgeshire twice, the Stewards Cup twice, together with the Cesarewitch and Lincoln.
“Go to” lightweights seem to have gone the way of honest party goers nowadays no doubt due to increased minimum weights and other factors contributing to a dearth of small thin people, but we will need to await the result of the enquiry before coming to any conclusions.
Selection – 3:00 Warwick – Agetur UK Ltd Classic Handicap Chase
Back to the heavier lads now and another good weekend’s jumping on the horizon. Warwick stages its annual 3m5f Classic Handicap chase which has seen some decent winners in the past. One For Arthur swooped late to take the race in 2017 prior to his Grand National triumph and Lucinda Russell has another well fancied entry this year in Corach Rambler who shoulders top weight. Successful at Cheltenham last time out he heads the market with the Pipe entry Gericault Roque who appreciated the step up in trip when second to the fast-improving Saint Palais over 3m 2f at Newbury in December. Either or both of these two market leaders should go very close. Last year’s first and second Notachance and Achille reoppose but having burned my fingers already this season on the former I am inclined to give him a swerve as he looks a shadow of last season’s improver and at twelve surely Achille’s best days are behind him. Although having dismissed a Venetia Williams winner on Thursday on age grounds perhaps this theory is looking dodgy…hey ho. After last week’s French inspired pulled up double perhaps it smacks of stupidity to go in again on an ex French competitor. However, the Paul Nicholls six-year-old Grace a Vous Enki has had some fancy entries of late and turns up here under Bryony Frost who won the race in 2018. Nicholls doesn’t have many runners in January, and I find it interesting that he gives this gelding his first taste of English fences in such a quality contest. Going by the Enki name I presume he is related to Yala Enki who stayed all day so that’s hopefully a positive there again perhaps the breeders use that name on all their stock, and he is no relation at all. He has experience steeplechasing at Auteuil which is not for the faint hearted so should handle the fences. It could be it’s a sighter for later in the season but at 12/1 or thereabouts I am happy to risk a few bob, whether you are, being another matter.
1. Grace a Vous Enki
Selection – 3:23 Wetherby – Racing TV Anywhere Handicap Chase
So that’s one pulled up sorted let’s find another… coming nearer home the 3.23pm at Wetherby only has eight runners but I think it’s a race to have a bet in. The likely favourite Tim Easterby’s Morozov Cocktail has only had two chases both at Wetherby and was successful last time out over this trip. Although he is probably the unexposed horse in the line up his price will reflect that so I will pass him over in favour of Sue Smith’s Frimeur Du Lancray. This gelding looked a promising young chaser at Newcastle on his penultimate start and hopefully a fall at Uttoxeter on New Year’s Eve hasn’t dented his confidence. Ryan Mania is off to Warwick on Saturday so Sean Quinlan steps in for the ride and at around 7/1 the Smith’s gelding looks a value bet.
1. Frimeur Du Lancray
I know this isn’t supposed to be a tipping column, but it sure dents the old confidence when selections don’t do themselves justice… sound of sobbing… so let’s hope for at least a couple of completions this week, who knows we might need the funds to throw into the Gold Cup sponsorship pot. I can just see Mr Tinkler chatting away with the Princess Royal on the winners’ podium…
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.