Soon be Dancing in the Dark.
So, the jumps season is running down. The Welsh Irish and English Nationals have all come and gone with just this Sunday’s Scottish version left to decide. The race for the jockey’s championship seems to be edging towards Harry Skelton but you never know. Although it does seem he has a Sherman tank at his disposal whereas Brian Hughes has only a pea shooter. I was tempted by Harry Cobden’s odds a couple of weeks ago, thinking if the two favourites were to have a knock there was value in his price. What happens poor old Cobden had a nasty fall at Aintree and is out for the season.
Enough has been written about Rachel Blackmore and Minella Times’ triumph so suffice to say the whole result showed National Hunt racing at its best. A good horse well ridden and well trained, with sufficient back stories to keep the non -racing media happy for days.
Just watching the race on Saturday, I don’t know whether it was just me, but it seems easier to spot the individual horses these days. Years ago, with loose horses and mayhem all around picking out your selections seemed really tricky. Presumably, better picture quality also needs to be factored in unless it was just my new specs.
Interesting to read earlier in the week that Rachel Blackmore has been asked to ride Ajas, one of the favourites in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris on May 23rd. Trainer David Cottin was working for trainer Guillame Macaire when Blackmore spent some time riding out at the yard so he obviously will be well aware of her abilities. It wouldn’t surprise me to see her win this as well, the way her season has panned out.
The best cards have been moved to Sunday this weekend for reasons well known to everyone. Ayr would appear to be the meeting to concentrate on, there being some really decent chases to get to grips with.
Sunday Selection: 3:35 Ayr: Coral Scottish Grand National Handicap Chase
The Scottish Grand National is centre stage and as usual has attracted a cracking field. You wonder if its tempting fate to side with the Irish once again, but I like the look of Mister Fogpatches down amongst the bottom weights. This lad has only had five chases to date and hasn’t set the world alight but has been running on well at the end of his races so this extra distance might be what he needs. Looks like the in-form Danny Mullins will be in the saddle so at around 12/1 he is a tempting proposition. Aye Right will run his usual game race from the front and it would be great to see him win but, reluctant as I am to pass him over, I cant help thinking his hard season may have caught up with this honest stayer. No doubt all the Scottish trainers will have squirreled one away for this big pot as it’s a race they love to win. Interestingly Lucinda Russell has replaced the injured Blair Campbell with Tom Scudamore on Mighty Thunder. It would be a typical “National “story if Scudamore were to win on Sunday to partially compensate Tom for Cloth Cap’s poor show at Aintree.
1. Mister Fogpatches
Sunday Selection: 1:50 Ayr: CPMS Novices’ Champion Handicap Chase
The other chase I like the look of is the 3m Novices Handicap at 1.50pm. The shrewd Emmet Mullins has Pilbara lurking at the foot of the weights, but the horse is too short a price for me looking at his overall form. Young Emmet is a trainer to follow though so Pilbara won’t be far away. I think the Skelton entry Flegmatik might have a squeak at decent odds. He’s only a six-year-old so is probably still improving. He won at Carlisle earlier in the season and I think the good ground will really suit him as opposed to some of his rivals. Only a couple of Northern entries for this decent prize which indicates where the power base is these days. The flat yards seem to be able to attract the big hitters I wonder why the jumping money doesn’t filter North.
To end on a sad note, I was sorry to see that Irish jumping star Presenting Percy has died following complications from a leg injury. Twice a winner at the Cheltenham Festival he was favourite for the 2019 Gold Cup when he finished down the field but was subsequently found to be lame, he then fell in the 2020 renewal when still in with a shout. Always a shame when one of these warriors doesn’t get the retirement they deserve.
Only Punchestown on the quality jumping horizon now, just a case of trying to get into flat mode. Now that is, as Springsteen would say, a case of “Dancing in the Dark”.
Enjoy the weekend’s racing.
Again, good luck throughout the winter. If you’re interested in racehorse ownership, take a look at the syndicate’s available shares.