Some horse races live up to the hype some don’t. Saturday’s Ascot Chase certainly did the former proud. On paper the race looked like the jumps race of the season so far and so it proved to be. A rejuvenated Cue Card was quickly away and helped to set what looked some seriously strong early fractions and was kept honest by the likes of Frodon and Speredek.
The strong pace was ideal for the eventual winner Waiting Patiently as the strong traveller was closing in on the front pair coming to three out. Just after the second last he took the lead from Cue Card and although Paddy Brennan got a big jump out of the 12-year-old at the last he was always being held by the winner.
Take nothing away from Cue Card who battled on all the way to the line and was back to the best he can be now given his age but he was no match for a highly progressive 7-year-old who made it 6 wins from 6 starts over fences and is destined for much better if he keeps sound.
It was an emotional win for Ruth Jefferson given what has happened in recent weeks and the win is a great testament to the training skills of the late Malcolm Jefferson who always believed that the horse could win a Grade 1 Chase.
Top Notch could have been expected to do better than his well beaten 4th. Like the winner he was given patient ride off the fast early gallop which should have suited the 7-year-old and he had got into contention four out but dropped out rather tamely coming to the second last. He is capable of better than this performance and like a few of the Nicky Henderson runners on the day he ran below par.
The other major disappointment of a great spectacle was the performance of Irish raider Coney Island whose jumping lacked any real fluency in the early stages of the race and in truth he was run off his feet. He made a bad mistake at the 10th and was wisely pulled up by jockey Barry Geraghty. There will be other days for 7-year-old who probably needs 3m but he will have to improve his jumping if he is to win a Grade 1 chase.
Grand National Weights Are Out
I thought I would give my Cheltenham tracker horses a miss this week, don’t worry it will be back next week, and instead have a quick look at the Grand National picture, now that the weights for the big race have been published.
Now the Aintree spectacular is not race to be taken seriously from a betting perspective but it’s a bit of fun and in the end that’s what betting on horses should be all about.
The race itself has changed in recent years due to the modifying of the Aintree fences and the handicappers in encouragement of higher class horses running in the race. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that five of the last seven winners have carried between 11-00 and 11-6 as class now does seem to come to the fore in the race
The great Nick Mordin identified 16 key factors that punters needed to take into consideration when looking to find the winner of the National. I won’t mention them on this occasion although I will revisit them closer to the race. Here are my four key trends:
Age: 8 to 11 year-olds
Won A Race 3m 1f+
Runs in 90 Days: 1 to 3
Handicap Chase Wins: 1 to 3
At the moment I will be noting all horses 10-10 or higher in the weights in addition to those trends above. Looking at the horses who take my eye at the moment and they are both trained by Gordon Elliott. The first is the 8-year-old Tiger Roll who last season won the 3m Munster National and the 4m National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival.
He isn’t the biggest horse in training but as he showed at Cheltenham if he gets in a good jumping rhythm he’s a really decent horse. At the 50/1 available with William Hill looks worth a modest each way bet at this stage.
The other Elliott horse is Ucello Conti, who I haven’t backed yet. The 10-year-old has still yet to win for the trainer but has run some tremendous races in big field handicap chases including over the National fences and was still going well enough at Bechers second time around when unseating his rider last year.
He will come into this year’s race fresher than last year and his second in the Paddy Power handicap Chase at Leopardstown over Christmas showed the old ability remains. He did run poorly and was pulled up in the Thyestes Chase at Gowran Park on his last start but I suspect something was amiss with him that day.
Monday Racing and Selection
Today we have jumps cards at Carlisle. Lingfield and Kempton host an evening all-weather card. For a Monday, not the worst days racing with two Class 3 handicap chases at Carlisle and Lingfield.
3:50 – A field of 9 are declared to go to post for the 3m 5f Surrey National. The inform Fergal O’Brien – 5 winners from 9 runners 56% +14.68 in the past 14 days – runs the 9-year-old Petite Power who caught my eye when finishing strongly to take 4th at Cheltenham three starts back and wasn’t disgraced when a staying on 5th in the 3m 3 ½ f Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen on Boxing Day. He has run well over fences here in the past over much shorter. The 55-day absence shouldn’t be an issue as he’s gone well fresh in the past. He is handicapped to go close in a race like this, if he stays the 3m 5f trip on such demanding going.
Petite Power – 13/2
All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable week’s betting.
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