Good morning all,
Second part of my look back over Christmas and the New Year period, and with it, I’m starting to formulate a few ante-post bets which I’ll trim the fat off, and post up next week. Only eight weeks to go, and even if there’s not a crowd, it’ll still be some of the best racing of the year. (As long as the Irish horses are allowed over at that point, of course…)
Al Boum Photo
Some went with “unimpressive” others with “workmanlike” but bottom line with Al Boum Photo is that he beat Acapalla Bourgeois by a bigger margin that he did in the Savills Chase at Tramore last year, and I’m finding it increasingly hard to find fault with what he does. He may not be the flashiest, but he gets results, and as others failed their Christmas tests and fell by the wayside, he keeps ploughing on, doing all that is asked of him.
A worthy Gold Cup favourite at this stage, and the three-timer looks more than on.
Turning to one or two of the novices, I thought Monkfish was one of the more impressive ones over Christmas, winning the 3m Grade 1 Nevills Hotel Novice Chase at Leopardstown. It wasn’t just his jumping, which bar one small mistake at the fourth was good, it was the way he knuckled down when challenged by Latest Exhibition in the closing stages, his jumping holding up very well under pressure, and he found plenty to go away again on the run-in to score an easy three lengths. This looks good RSA form.
It is worth pointing out the second has lost little in defeat, the pair pulling miles clear of a disappointing Conflated back in third, and I wonder whether connections will be tempted by the NH Chase come March. He looks an ideal type for that. I’ll wait for NRNB, and take slightly shorter, as if anything does go wrong with Monkfish before March, then the RSA becomes the natural target.
Every year the poor old Tolworth gets a slagging but it throws up a good one with regularity, and Harry Fry’s Metier looks the latest to come out of the race with his reputation enhanced.
Always travelling well in behind the leaders, he made his ground up very smoothly when asked and powered up the hill to win an easy 12l. You can crab what he’s beaten, but Tile Tapper, 5½l behind Metier at Ascot, finished a never-nearer third, beaten 20l here, so to me the form stands up perfectly well.
He’ll need a wet Festival, as Harry Fry was quick to point out afterwards, but we’re getting those with more regularity than we used to and if he turned up for the Supreme, he’d certainly be on my shortlist.
Are there any chinks in his armour? It appears not after another dominant display to take the Wayward Lad Novices Chase, jumping well and not minding the company up front of Gumball, who basically ran himself into the ground trying to get him off the bridle.
The more you look at last year’s Supreme win the more impressive it gets, considering the trouble he found, and he’s translated all that talent to fences, and probably more. Would I take evens for the Arkle off the back of this? No, tying my money up at that price for two months makes no appeal, but do I think he’ll win the Arkle if he turns up? Yes, yes I do, and that’s despite how impressed I have been with Allmankind, too.
Entries for some of the Big Cheltenham contests are starting to be made, and I was delighted to see Fanion D'Estruval get one for the Champion Chase. The dream is still (barely) alive….
I fear a diet of AW racing is what we are going to get for much of the weekend, although Kempton are optimistic that their meeting tomorrow can go ahead. The rest is touch-and-go. I’m off to Southwell tonight to see what I can find, and I like the chance of Mister Universum, stepped back up in trip, in the 6.45. He’s a one-paced stayer but with the track riding deep at present, that is going to suit him, and he should get a lot closer to favourite Heron this time around. A bet at 3 places on Betfair and a small win bet are the way I’m playing him.
Good luck with all your bets, and fingers crossed for the inspections for tomorrow later today!