Well Ron is still in hospital with all those nurses (I’ve ben watching the “Carry on” films over Christmas, no wonder he wont leave), so I thought I ought to add in a little extra for the very start of 2014, though having seen both the going and the weather, who knows what will happen and I expect more than the average number of surprise results.
Trying to be half sensible (it doesn’t come naturally as you may have noticed), I have come up with two possibilities – whether you risk your cold hard cash is up to you though, nothing comes with a guarantee in this game as we all know by now.
Cheltenham is the home of jump racing and deserves to take centre stage this afternoon and I will start with my own assessment of the opener at 12.10pm when I will be on Racing Pulse as the five year old looks to make it four wins in a row here. Trained by John Quinn and to be ridden by James Reveley (who was on him last time out), he started his racing life with victory at Ballindenisk in an Irish point to point before a bumper win at Naas after which, he changed stables from Michael Winters to John Quinn for new owner Carl Hinchy (who also owns horses with Paul Green and Rebecca Curtis). Purchase costs appear to be private (fair enough), but I suspect may have been a hefty sum but he started to repay that cost with a novice hurdle victory at Newcastle when he won with any amount in hand. This afternoon is a much more difficult assignment with Ballyalton also looking for a four timer, Royal Regatta going for a hat trick for the season, Aubusson looking to follow up his Chepstow success, and Flementime, who I know is very highly thought of by Martin Keighley (works upsides with Champion Court) looking to go one better than her second at Uttoxeter – she is not passed over lightly but I felt she wasn’t the most natural of jumpers and will need some serious schooling (perhaps one for a two horse dutch for those who like that sort of thing, eh Ron)?
As regular reader(s) may have noticed, I have a lot of time for John Ferguson who is doing a frankly remarkable job with his jumpers who as basically Godolphin and family cast offs. Yes they are classy beasts in general but they still need to be taught to jump before they have any chance of winning, and I am more than a little interested in the return of Whispering Gallery who has been off the track since February. A Group Three winner on the flat, he has a two out of two record over hurdles to date, both easy wins on soft ground at Leicester and Wetherby.
He does step up to three miles in the 1.55pm and no one really knows if he will get the trip (a son of Daylami – not a clue), though if he is fit he has each way chances (I note stable jockey Denis O’Regan rides two for the same trainer at Musselburgh, but did he have the choice?), and will carry my money if only to very small stakes. Burton Port is the interesting one here, an ex Gold Cup class horse (when trained by Nicky Henderson), who was fourth in the big one behind Synchronised in 2012 but has rather lost his way since and is now with Jonjo O’Neill. Currently rated 145, and previously 166 at his peak over fences, he gets into the handicap off a mark of 135 over the smaller obstacles here, and if they have him anywhere near his best (stone cold last at Cheltenham last time out so don’t count on it), then he is obviously not without a shout of a place at least.
And that, my friends is that – my last article for 2013 written, I’ll be back Friday night with my view of Saturday’s meetings plus a review of the racing world – Happy New Year one and all, see you in 2014!