The weights came out for the Bet Victor and Greatwood Hurdle yesterday, and whilst nothing particularly grabbed my attention in the latter, one jumped out at me in the Bet Victor at the weights and I’ve had an e/w ante-post bet. You can find out what it is on the main piece today, plus a selection from Rasen, where I’ll be off for a day out later on.
It’s 8-1 the field for the Bet Victor after the weights were announced yesterday, and as expected, it’s Amy Murphy’s Grade 1 winner Kalashikov that heads the market. The case for him is a very simple one – he’s a top quality performer over fences that acts at Cheltenham (as his second in the 2018 Supreme showed), looked as good as ever when second to Forest Bihan in the rather sun-ravaged Old Roan, and is the typical second-season novice you look for in a race such as this. His chance is there to see.
Slate House is next in, but I’m less keen on him. Yes, he was very impressive when winning a novice chase at the October meeting here, barely coming off the bridle to win by ten minutes, but the time of that was moderate and we’ve been here before with Slate House, promising much only to disappoint. He’s got plenty to prove at the price, and is easy enough for me to pass over. (Although the good lady wishes me to point out she's on at fancy prices. I can see a match bet coming on…)
Tuesday’s Haldon winner Janika is still mildly interesting under the penalty but as I said then, I wonder whether, ultimately, if he might not be better at shorter. That’s not to say he doesn’t get this trip, he does, and his consistency and ability to travel well in these big races are big plus points. The 14-1 Ladbrokes makes some appeal, but with connections eyeing up the Peterborough Chase, I’d only want to bet him NRNB. And that's not happening at present.
My eyes almost popped out when I saw Highway One O One has just got 10st 2lb to carry for this, as things stand. Given some of the whopping weights he had to carry in some top-quality novice handicaps last year – 11-9 in the Timeform Novices (a piece of form we’ll revisit in a minute), 11-7 in the Close Brothers and 11-5 in the Silver Trophy (not a novices race I know, but you get the point) he’ll think he’s been let loose in a field here. That Timeform form (excuse the wording) is very strong – he was giving winner Kildisart 2lb and got 3lb from third home Spiritofthegames. Suffice to say Kildisart’s subsequent fourth in the JLT and then carrying top weight to win a Grade 3 handicap at Aintree gives that for a solid look, and it’s worth pointing out he’ll get 6lb from Spiritofthegames here, yet he’s been installed third favourite for this. If that’s the case, I can’t see how you make Highway One O One a 25s chance.
So he acts well at Cheltenham, acts on most ground and apart form an off day in the Close Brothers (when he couldn’t lead – that has to be the main worry for him here too, given there’s usually a big field) is generally consistent. A recent spin over hurdles will have sharpened him up nicely for this and he fits the second-season novice trend too. 25-1 e/w 5 places Paddy Power and Bet Victor looks more than fair at this stage, and he's my bet.
Ante-Post Highway One O One for the Bet Victor at 25-1 5 places Paddy Power/Bet Victor
The rain is coming everywhere today and by the time the 3.20 at Rasen comes around, I'd expect that to be very testing indeed. If that's the case, a few of these will struggle in the conditions but not Ask Paddy, who loves plenty of cut and might be worth chancing after a wind operation. Not only that, he seems to go well fresh – after a 15 month absence he ran perfectly well when second at Catterick back in February, so the fact he's been off since April is no bother. You'd like to see a bit of money around for him but all the same, this looks very winnable, and he'll do for me.
Good luck with all your bets today,