Chepstow Weekend!

Good morning all,

As much as Newmarket and York take centre stage on the Flat, it would be remiss of me – as a jumps fan – not to cover off Friday and Saturday’s Chepstow cards with what I consider some of the better bets. So, before we get in to Saturday’s (flat) selections tomorrow, let’s have a look at what promises to be two great days worth of racing at the Monmouthshire venue.

2.10 Chepstow – 2m7½f Veterans Chase

What a great race. Just put seven races like this on a card, what’s not to like about that?

If the ground continues to dry out, as the forecast suggests it might, it would be against the likes of Vieux Lion Rouge (representing the sponsor) and Potters Corner, and it’s not hard to think they are having Aintree warm-ups. Double Shuffle is will surely need it, Soupy Soups looks a shadow of himself, Vivas will be getting ready for the X-Country at Cheltenham and Asockastar, as much as I like the horse, just doesn’t look good enough.

This is arguably a harder task for Geordie Des Champs after hurdles wins in small fields at Ffos Las, but for a veteran he’s unexposed and on that alone, has to be taken seriously. Sir Ivan is consistent but weighted to the hilt now. So I’ve narrowed this down to three.

Some Chaos comes here after a wind operation, which can only be a help, you’d think, and is only 1lb higher than when beating Claud And Goldie at Kelso a year ago. His record fresh is mixed, but he handled Chepstow well on his only start here, the yard are going well, and he has a solid chance.

It’s the two at the foot of the handicap that make most appeal. Indy Five went well fresh first time up last year (beaten a head, and that after looking the winner) but was disappointing on his only other start. Maybe catching him fresh is the key, but I wouldn’t want it to dry out too much for him.

But in the hope it does (and it is doing – now good ground at Chepstow this morning) I’m with Dancing Shadow, who jumped them silly from the front in this last year, and did not deserve to get picked up in the last couple of strides. He was still in front and going fine when uncharacteristically unseating here in March, so clearly goes well here, and has plenty of good efforts when fresh to think that he’s got a great chance here. He doesn’t win enough to be totally confident about, but he looks sure to give you a great each-way spin.

2.45 Chepstow – Persian War

A tricky one to call, and probably not a betting event.

Camprond (who does not wear back shoes) looks to have found his level already and might need more improvement to win this. Disappointingly turned over at odds-on last time, he’s easy enough to swerve now, and preference is for Paso Doble, useful on the Flat and who ran well on his debut in the Adonis, not knocked around in the process. That form has taken a few knocks since, and he didn’t need to improve to score back at Kempton in May. Put away since then, you can expect a lot of improvement if he’s tidied his jumping up, and the yard target this meeting year in, year out.

First Street was impressive at Warwick (and I like the second, The Brimming Water, who will do well this year) and is a danger, but in truth it’s hard to rule many, if any, of these out, and it looks one to watch rather than get stuck into.

Saturday

2.25 Chepstow – Native River Chase

I keep looking at that mark of 154 for Real Steel and thinking I’m going to get lured in come Saturday, as that’s a very low-looking mark for a horse that traded 6-4 in running to win a Gold Cup a couple of years ago. The question is whether he’s simply had enough now after some moderate efforts (albeit in top-class company) last year, but maybe fresh, on decent ground and after wind surgery might be the time to catch him.

Fidux has his ground, but I’m not sure he’s good enough, and maybe a flatter track would suit him too. I got Kitty’s Light all wrong last year, I didn’t think he was anywhere near good enough to be winning a Bet365/Whitbread but he really was the moral winner. I think he’ll need this, all the same.

I have a massive soft spot for The Mighty Don, who did win over these fences first time up last year (although not without mishap) and would have gone close but for a bad mistake at Cheltenham on his final start of last year. Sadly, his jumping holds him back – he can be careful at his fences, and when he’s not, he has a tendency to belt one – but there’s nothing wrong with his mark.

The two against the field, for me, are Court Master and Cobra De Mai. The latter got a mention in my Eyecatchers after his run at Warwick, one that left me (and his connections) smiling as he looked a happier horse for his new yard, and this mark is very workable. He’ll have his ground too. Court Master simply has to be considered, given his record fresh – he’s won on each of the last three seasons first time up, and needs decent ground to show his very best. The yard have made a good start to the new season and he should give you a decent run for your money.

3.30 Chepstow – Silver Trophy Handicap

Ultra-competitve, and one of the most difficult renewals of this to try and solve.

Top weight Proschema seems to have been around forever, but in fact he’s only had eight hurdles starts, winning three of them, and was much improved last year. He’ll get further than this later in the year, but this looks a good enough start point and before you start thinking a mark of 142 looks high enough, remember he was 100+ on the Flat, so there might well be a bit more juice in that mark.

Hooper might have gone close in the valuable Summer Handicap at Market Rasen earlier in the year but for being hung out wide for most of the contest. Two goes over fences since then haven’t agreed with him, and he returns to hurdles here with a chance.

A mark of 136 for Champagne Well is tempting. It isn’t two seasons since he was only getting 2lb off Thyme Hill and running him to three lengths at Cheltenham, a very good level of form. He tried fences last season, and ran okay but no more, but hasn’t been seen out since December. There’s clearly been issues but all the same, we know Fergal can get them fit first time, and he’s interesting.

There’s a whole host of others that you can give chances to, but offer me 12s plus and I’ll chance Champagne Well.

Today’s selection – Dancing Shadow (e/w) 2.10 Chepstow

Good luck with all your bets today,

David.

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