It’s been one heck of a long week as I have clocked up the miles heading off to the Harry Fry yard which I want to mention briefly to start with if only for those who haven’t read my article yet? Its worth the effort I promise, includes a dark horse from the yard to look out for and, as I drove about eight hours return trip it would be nice if some of you made the effort!
As for the racing last week, I need to start with the Paddy Power meeting from Cheltenham, though the times suggest the going was a lot softer than the official readings and I would take the majority of the form with a large dose of salt if I were you. As you will have read elsewhere, Philip Hobbs and stable jockey Richard Johnson stole the limelight with a total of six winners which were al richly deserved, in my book headed by novice chaser Champagne West whose exploits have been largely forgotten in the “suns too low lets not bother with the fences” scenario. Fact is he barely touched a twig when winning the two and a half miler from useful yardstick and stablemate Colour Squadron, and I got the feeling there was plenty left in the tank if needed. Sure to improve for the run he ought to take higher order as the season progresses though at what price is the big question?
The one horse I did take out of the whole meeting and have added to the horses to follow list below has to be Nicky Henderson’s Hargam, who looked all over the winner in the Triumph Hurdle Trial only to run out of either puff or stamina up the hill and get beaten by yet another Philip Hobbs inmate. His ever shrewd yard will know by now what caused his defeat but either way he should prove either difficult or impossible to beat next time out and could rack up quite a few wins this season if sensibly campaigned.
Looking ahead to the weekend the racing is of decent enough class and with plenty of prize money, so where are all the horses? Ron and I discus this to death on the podcast but the fact is there is some good money going begging and some horses are turning up simply to pick up cash for coming stone cold last. Odds on shots that ought to win include The New One in the 1.50pm at Haydock, and Faugheen in the 2.40pm at Ascot but we wont get rich backing them (even in a double), though they are equally impossible to oppose. Whatever some of you may think I always look for value (sometimes I find it, sometimes I don’t), so how about if we start with old rogue Hunt Ball who returns to action at Ascot in the 12.25pm. Better known as a chaser who won eight races in his younger years, he has been to America and back since leaving Keiran Burke but is now in the hands of Nicky Henderson who has failed to get anything better than a third out of him in his last four runs. Rated 162 over fences at his peak and 155 when last seen, he is in a novice hurdle here and if the smaller obstacles rekindle his interest in the game he is absolutely thrown in – or he could just be out for an exercise canter before returning to fences, only time will tell I am sorry to say so my stakes will be kept smaller than normal for obvious reasons.
Elsewhere I am hopeful the Henderson yard can strike in the Fixed Brush Handicap Hurdle from Haydock at 2.25pm with top weight Volnaix De Thaix, a five-year-old son of Secret Singer who hacked up on his return to action at Huntingdon catching everybody’s eye in the process. His sire is a son of Singspiel making the three mile trip this afternoon a question in my eyes at least (though you can copy all my knowledge of the French breeding scene on the back of a stamp), and interestingly he has never raced beyond two and a half miles or so, but if he does get home (and the others are sure to test his stamina), ten it hard to see a five pound penalty stopping him here regardless of the opposition.
Lastly for this week, there is no way on earth I can abandon the brilliant Highland Retreat who returns to action for Harry Fry and his racing club (that we are now part of) at Exeter on Sunday. I gather she is ready for her second run of the season and if she jumps better than she did at Cheltenham then it is hard to see who of the other three runners can beat her if it doesn’t turn in to a tactical farce?
Good luck one and all…..
Selections this week:
Hunt Ball 12.25pm Ascot Saturday
Volnaix De Thaix 2.25pm Haydock Saturday
Horses to follow:
Creepy – well supported on his debut over fences this week at Chepstow when making all and jumping well throughout to score by twenty lengths easing down. Trainer Martin Keighley thinks a lot of him and he will surely add more races to that success this season with the Sun Alliance Chase at Cheltenham presumably his long-term objective. Looked well beaten when unseating Richard Johnson last weekend at Cheltenham but can still win races if kept to a sensible grade.
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Broxbourne – used to be well above average on the flat when trained by Mark Johnston and looked like a machine when winning at lowly Fakenham for Nicky Henderson this week. More of a confidence booster than a real race he is entitled to improve for his first run in over a year and he could be pretty decent over two and a half miles or further over hurdles and seems sure to add to that victory.
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Ballyallia Man – Tom George is off to a flyer and this nine year old returned to action with little more than an exercise canter to win at Wincanton by a long looking six lengths. This was his first run for seven months or so and he is entitled to strip a little bit fitter next time out, so as long as the handicapper isn’t too punitive he ought to score next time out as well, after which he may be in the grips and can be removed with profit made!
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Hargam – an unlucky runner up on his hurdling debut the three year old was travelling as if it was a matter of how far not if at Cheltenham before fading up the infamous hill. With that run behind him he is surely a shoe in to win next time out and could win a few more if sensibly entered.
***No Current Entries***