I hope you all managed to make the most of the festivities this week, and no doubt there were a few sore heads in the mornings that followed.
The racing has been nothing short of spectacular and has managed to give us plenty to think about for future betting purposes later in the season.
Let’s start with Long Run who produced a gritty display to battle his way up the run in and stick his neck in front at the line. He made his customary errors along the way which cost him valuable momentum, and I myself have been guilty of blaming some of those to his saddle companion Sam Whaley Cohen. However I cannot help thinking that although he seems to struggle to get his mount into a stride at some of his fences, it is simply not fair to attribute everything to poor riding skills. It has become more apparent to me that the horse is simply quirky, especially in the jumping department and is never going to display a polished round over his obstacles, but nonetheless the errors he does make would finish most horses, so he clearly has plenty of heart. This was not the strongest of King George races though especially with the ground the way it was, and everything pointed to him being the likely winner, as such I cannot see him going on to win the Gold Cup for a second time come March.
His stable companion Darlan created a stir in the Christmas Hurdle with a devastating turn of foot off the home bend. He has put himself well in the picture as a very serious Champion Hurdle prospect for the festival. He blew away any question marks over ground preference with that performance, but if I’m honest I’m still sweet on his stable companion Grandouet, who although beaten by Zarkander LTO was not at his best that day, and I can’t help thinking there is plenty more to come from him before the season is out.
Sir Des Champs put further question marks over his Gold Cup hopes in my opinion with his performance in the Lexus on Friday. I am a firm believer of his talent and nearly struck a serious wager on him for March in the ante post market. However I cannot help feeling should I do so I may get to the point of backing him off a cliff. He owes me and my followers a tidy sum for Friday’s run, as I could not see him getting turned over. He jumped like a mule in the second half of the race, yet stayed on the strongest near the finish. Many will say that better ground at Cheltenham will see him to better effect, but I’m not all that sure the ground is all that important. Conditions have been fairly desperate on both his outings of 3m+, yet he appeared to handle the ground and trip just fine, and will no doubt improve for the extra distance. What worries me is when he is put under pressure his jumping goes to pot, which can clearly be seen on both his Punchestown race in April and of course at Leopardstown on Friday. He was mightily impressive at Cheltenham last term, but he hardly had to come off the bridle that day, he will be facing a different class come March, and Mullins will need to brush his jumping up if he is to land a serious blow against his opposition.
I am now going to highlight a few horses that are worth noting down for upcoming events.
Aupcharlie (Trainer – Willie Mullins)
One of my own services selections on Friday who was denied on the line by stable companion Back In Focus. That was only his second outing over fences, and he showed some decent ability. He is big old boy, clearly built for the bigger obstacles, and will likely go on to win some decent money for his followers in the months to come.
Dontpaytheferryman (Trainer – Brian Ellison)
Ran over fences the other day, and to be honest I would not back him in that sphere with stolen money. However he usually comes good at this time of year, and looks on a decent enough mark over hurdles to land a blow. He has form on soft ground, but I would prefer to see him on a better surface and preferably at Musselburgh over his favoured 2 mile trip.
Corkage (Trainer – Keith Reveley)
I highlighted this fella to my own subs on Saturday’s mail as one who would likely flop under the conditions he faced at Doncaster. He duly finished dead last, and as I pointed out to my subs he should get some relief from the handicapper, which will put him in good stead over hurdles when the better weather comes. If he can get in around the 130 – 134 mark after yesterday’s performance then he can be competitive especially around Doncaster on better ground. We might have to wait a little while but could easily be rewarded for our patience.
That’s the lot for this week, although before I go I would like to mention a runner today at Taunton who has caught my eye. The Omen in the 16:00 looks an interesting prospect having disappointed on his last two outings after being well supported before the off. As is the case with the offspring of Sir Harry Lewis, they tend to improve for a step up to this sort of trip and the conditions should not pose to many problems either. I have watched a few of his races and although it would appear he has not shown much, I could not help getting the impression that he could not go with the pace, so as mentioned the emphasis on stamina may well help here. He also gets in off bottom weight which makes some appeal in the likely conditions.
He is currently around the 12-1 mark which looks fair, and I would certainly not be staking the mortgage money on him. But if you have a few spare shekels in the betting account, then a small e/w wager could well provide a bit of interest in the last race on the card.
Until next week,