First things first and for those who have yet to listen to the Podcast may I wish you all a very Happy New Year. Ron clearly agrees with the saying that the devil makes work for idle hands (or something like that) and has plenty of exciting plans for 2015 which seem to involve World domination of some kind (more Pinky and the Brain than Smashy and Nicey perhaps), but as everything will be about sports and primarily racing, I am on board for the ride and am pretty certain you will be too – we all know Ron is a workaholic and not a marketing “BS”’er like some I could mention!
Looking at the week in racing it has been more a case of quantity than quality over the Christmas period with some glaringly obvious exceptions, though we no doubt all had a personal highlight worthy of a mention? No surprise to anyone that the Cheltenham victory of Rock On Ruby was mine as the now ten year old rolled back the years with an impressive victory in the two and a half mile hurdle and now heads straight to the Festival for a crack at the World Hurdle over an extra half a mile. This win most certainly warrants him a place in the line up (and last year’s winner More Of That still has plenty to prove, so why not?), and at 14/1 he could yet be this year’s fairytale ending – after all, every year seems to have one?
Elsewhere there were more questions than answers when Southwell called off the fillies’ handicap scheduled for Thursday thanks to a mere four runners. Owners went mad, trainers did the same, while jockeys nodded sagely in agreement, but personally I fail to see how this solves any issues? As a trainer surely it could or should be my responsibility to do the best by my owners, yet now, when I have a glorified donkey and manage to find it a small race and a chance of some prize money (thus placating my owner), someone in their Ivory Tower decides the race should be withdrawn as I will have “other opportunities”, even though the more runners there are the less chance my donkey has of making the frame? I am a great believer in market forces and don’t necessarily believe there is any less bet on these races (does anyone have industry statistics?), and if the racing authorities are happy to take my entry fees when my horse doesn’t have any chance, surely they cannot take the opportunity of an income away from me when my beast is in with a shout?
Rant over (well, for this week), and on to the more positive stuff, though the weekend’s action is a little muted and we need to tread very carefully. Two bets will do for me, both a lot riskier than normal, and starting on the polytrack (sorry Ron), at Lingfield as early as the 12.20pm. Somehow, I rather doubt the powers at the head of Godolphin had planned for their unraced son of New Approach (and Epsom Derby entry) Monein would debut in a Class Five ten furlong maiden on the all-weather in January, but here he is raring to go and with Adam Kirby in the saddle. A half brother to both Castlereagh and Manjakani, who both picked up Racing Post ratings of over 100, he will need to be rated less than 70 to take this at a guess in which case even if he isn’t fully tuned up this ought to be a formality (famous last words). Amusingly (if not necessarily profitably), my other bet will be an even bigger price and I suggest a small each way bet on Balgarry could yet pay dividends. Trained by David Pipe, I note Tom Scudamore travels here for the one stable ride as opposed to local track Wincanton, and have heard that he has improved considerably for his return after two and three quarter years off the track (and no surprise there). After pulling too hard he was allowed to bowl along in front before folding tamely three pout but will strip a lot fitter this afternoon, has been put down a couple of pounds, will lap up the stiff uphill finish, and drops slightly in class – there you go, all the boxers ticked, I just hope the horse reads my article before the off time.
Good luck one and all…..
Selections this week:
Monein 12.20pm Lingfield Saturday
Balgarry each way 3.00pm Sandown Saturday
Horses to follow: (New addition below):
Camlann – only sixth on his bumper debut at Cheltenham on New Years Day, the son of Cape Cross was very well supported in the market before being sent off the 7/2 favourite. Racing well enough in behind the leaders he failed to quicken up when asked before finishing sixth but it would be fair to say Barry Geraghty threw everything but the kitchen sink at the four year old, all be it to no avail. He must be better than that and could well need the two miles (one of those silly mile and three quarter bumpers here), and ought to win a bumper or two before going hurdling, possibly in lower class at a less fashionable venue?
***No current entries***
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.
***Pulled up at Cheltenham but can win again IF they place him in the correct class***
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.
*** No current entries until the Cheltenham Festival***
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!
*** Runs at Sandown in the 3.35pm this Saturday ***
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 until the Cheltenham Festival***