Dynaste was just below the highest class as a staying chaser but the horse can show some old form and win the Veteran’s Chase at Sandown on Saturday. Kayf Grace could be the horse to follow in the Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle on the same card, a meeting that is the second to be broadcast on ITV even though the coverage is on ITV 4 and not the main channel.
The world and his wife have had their say about ITV’s first programme from Cheltenham on New Year’s Day. Most of the letters published in the Racing Post were negative but the Editor can choose which ones to include to paint the picture he desires. However, the paper is mainly read by professionals and ITV have a new target audience. The trick is getting the balance right between presenting racing in an informed way while attracting a new breed of viewer.
Ed Chamberlain has plenty of goodwill with sports fans because he was an excellent lead presenter at Sky Sports for Premier League football. Some of his comments were clichéd but he knows his stuff but he will never be as authoritative as Nick Luck. Tony McCoy looked a bit fed up in the cold and rain but Luke Harvey could be the dark horse especially if they team him up with Jason Weaver as the pair work well on At The Races. Victoria Pendleton and the weather girl didn’t bring a great deal to the table even though the latter told us it was raining.
Viewing figures were slightly up on the corresponding day when covered by Channel 4 but the acid test will be how the team handle the Cheltenham Festival and Grand National. It may be a good thing that they are bedding in on ITV4 and the main channel will take over for the huge spring festivals. One thing for speculation is the outfits that Matt Chapman wears at Royal Ascot. Overall the coverage was fine and the team covered the big news stories well. Ultimately if you are backing winners Ken Dodd would do a good job!
There is now a slight lull in the jumps season but all roads are leading to Cheltenham in March. The Festival dominates a sport like no other event and for the next ten weeks the news coverage will increase until the roar from the stands at the start of the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle, the first race on day 1, voted the best day’s racing of the year for both codes. My personal favourite is the Thursday of the Grand National meeting at Aintree though Ladies Day on the Friday is good fun!
Dynaste won the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2014 and ran to a rating of 169. On his latest run in December the BHA gave the horse a rating of 150 so clearly there has been a decline. Dynaste is now aged 11 so qualifies for veterans chases. The horse only needs slight improvement from the last run which is feasible based on past form to justify favouritism for Saturday’s race for older chasers. There could be a field of 19 runners and bookmakers are offering one quarter the odds for the first four places. Dynaste should make the frame at least.
Dynaste is trained by David Pipe who believes his horse still has some of the old spark. He has not won a race for almost three years but competed at the highest level, often trailing behind Silviniaco Conti and Cue Card in some big races. Pipe is putting on blinkers this time which could make a difference but clearly the horse is well handicapped on past form and the trainer reports that Dynaste is in good form. Rocky Creek has not quite delivered on his potential but he can chase Dynaste home.
The Tolworth Hurdle is a Grade 1 novices’ event for horses aged four and older, run over two miles and featuring eight obstacles. Yorkhill won the race last year and then won a novices’ event at the Festival so Saturday’s race could be informative. Melodic Rendezvous is another former winner and that horse was not far below Champion Hurdle class. The inference is that it takes a good horse to win the race and that could be Kayf Grace, the third favourite in ante post lists.
The racing on Saturday is ordinary and does not deserve a spot on the main ITV channel. The team will be hoping for better weather but if Dynaste and Kayf Grace win their races there could be a monsoon and I wouldn’t be too bothered but the weather girl would probably be beside herself.