Happy Monday everybody!
It was a quite fabulous weekend of racing, so here are my thoughts on the remaining races at Cheltenham’s Showcase meeting, the Sunday action at Aintree and the week ahead…
It’s fair to say Saturday wasn’t a profitable day for me, and it so nearly got very bad indeed when I left a newly-purchased painting on the train back from Cheltenham. Thankfully my marathon training paid off and I was able to sprint back to the platform and rescue it, before a conversation with Mrs Potter that would have been more awkward than when I revealed just how much I’d bet on The New One to win the Champion Hurdle in 2014. And 2015. And 2016. Anyway!
1:50 – Our selection Bucking The Trend was a non-runner, and given there were only six finishers I’m not sure we can read too much into that race.
2:25 – I said I wouldn’t dissuade anyone from backing Wholestone, and he did enough to win, but our selection West Approach was doing all his best work at the finish and I’m certain we’ll be seeing a lot more of the first two home this season.
3:00 – in my preview, I said I was happy to take a flyer on Wolf Of Windlesham, but whilst he briefly threatened coming down the hill, it was a poor selection. Rather embarrassingly, I didn’t mention Sceau Royal in my preview at all. Given the races he lost last year were those involving Apple’s Jade and Ivanovich Gorbatov, it was remiss of me to not realise how much potential he has. He was a stunning winner, the clear highlight of the day, and he could do so well this year.
3:30 – again, I said I wouldn’t put people off backing Fox Norton, and he was just so, so good. The options for him this season are many and I think he’ll be a big player in whatever race at the Festival his connections target. Our selection, Rock The World, weakened rapidly and was never really in contention.
4:05 – Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Our selection For Good Measure ran a fine race, and did everything he could to have won. Unfortunately, his dive up the inside meant he probably wasn’t aware of Golden Doyen who was racing wider and prevailed by a short head. Both For Good Measure and Golden Doyen should feature throughout the handicap season.
4:40 – we said Shantou Village would win, and he did. With just three rivals it’s probably not a race to read too much into, but he should improve for this effort.
5:15 – a big gamble on the Nicky Henderson runner River Wylde failed to pay off, with the overnight favourite Brahms De Clermont winning at a nice price. Our selection Woodfort dead-heated for 4th but was no match for the winner.
At Aintree today, we saw Robin Roe win very impressively for the Skelton brothers, whilst there is plenty to be said about Colin Tizzard. Firstly, Third Intention was a fine winner of the Old Roan Chase – it is important to note he has recently had a wind operation and it appears to have paid dividends. He could still be well handicapped. Secondly, potentially in advance of Thistlecrack’s chasing debut this week (although the lack of rain makes it unlikely in my eyes), Colin said Native River will be aimed at the World Hurdle this year. For a Grade One winning chaser, it’s huge news in a couple of respects, but most importantly that Thistlecrack must be schooling well over fences. Colin Tizzard doesn’t have the largest stable in the world but has two live chances in the Gold Cup in the shape of Cue Card and Thistlecrack, and so Native River must be third choice for the yard. Native River could conceivably challenge for the Hennessy and the World Hurdle in the same year, which is brilliantly bonkers.
For the rest of the week, then obviously all eyes are on Chepstow on Tuesday; we’ll know by Monday lunchtime if Thistlecrack is going to be seen jumping a fence in public for the first time, or not. Then on Saturday we have a Grade 3 Chase at Ascot along with two Listed races, whilst we have the Listed Mares Hurdle and the Grade 2 West Yorkshire Hurdle and Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. Look out for my thoughts on those races on Twitter (@theonlyhorseguy) and Facebook (Derek Potter) as they’re sure to be informative with regards to the rest of the season.