Another winning weekend with Balder Succes taking the Betfair Ascot Chase on Saturday for Alan King next stop Cheltenham for the Champion Chase, and Dedigout winning at Navan on Sunday in the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle keeping my strike rate at almost 40%.
The very smart Oscar Time is firmly on course for a third tilt at the £1-million Crabbie’s Grand National at Aintree on Saturday, April 11 and is priced up around 25/1 at the moment with the high street bookmakers.
The 14-year-old has an excellent record over the Grand National fences and was last seen out when pulling out all the stops to land the Betfred Becher Handicap Chase at the course on December 6 for his owner/trainer Robert Waley-Cohen.
Oscar Time was purchased by Waley-Cohen after finishing second in the 2010 Irish Grand National but remained in the care of Irish handler Martin Lynch, for whom he was placed in two Grand Nationals. He went down by two and a quarter lengths when runner-up to Ballabriggs in 2011 and returned from a tendon injury to finish fourth to Auroras Encore in 2013.
He moved to Waley-Cohen’s Upton Viva Stud in Warwickshire after sustaining another injury and returned for the permit holder with two impressive victories in hunter chases at Uttoxeter and Wetherby in May.
The owner/trainer’s son Sam, an amateur rider, has partnered Oscar Time on all of his starts since November, 2010.
Waley-Cohen reported today: “Oscar Time is in great order. It was a fantastic performance from the horse in the Becher and you could not have asked for any more.”
“He was a big price (25/1) but he had not really run in a competitive race since the Grand National 18 months earlier as he unseated early on at Cheltenham in November. He had won a point to point and two hunter chases in the space of three weeks in May so we knew he was in good order.”
The July Cup may regain its midweek slot at Newmarket in a dramatic shake-up by the BHA, I must say it was dead last year losing its status with the racing world and public, change is not always the solution.
Newmarket trainer Sir Mark Precott paid a rare visit to Fontwell last week when he saddled a runner in the bumper, Sea Pride finished third to the favorite Chapel Hall only beaten three and half lengths after holding every chance jumping the last.
Captain Guy Disney was hailed as an insperation at Sandown last Friday when finishing third in the Royal Artillery Gold Cup on Ballyallia Man on his first ride since losing part of his leg during the war in Afghanistan.
Saturday’s impressive Ascot bumper winner Wait For Me will run next in the Weatherbys Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival next month, Betfred go 14/1 about the Hobbs horse.
Timmy Murphy has been out the saddle for over a year with a shoulder injury but good news comes my way that he will be back in time for Cheltenham in March. Murphy said ”I’m pretty hopeful. I’m pretty fit and light, so I’m more than less ready to go.”
Easter Day looks the one to be on in the Betbright Chase Handicap at Kempton on Saturday, and at Newcastle in the Betfred Eider Chase Portrait King will go close at working mans odds.
Back next Thursday.
Yours In Sport
Kevan Minter The Colonel