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Clash Of The Titans

Morning all,

It promised to be interesting and informative weekend. The ‘Clash of the Titans” and the race of the season so far took place at Ascot on Saturday. Meanwhile up at Haydock Jonbon was bidding to enhance his Supreme Novice Hurdle claims in the Grade 2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices' Hurdle.

By the time you read this I will be on the road. I’m heading way for a few days away in Wiltshire. It’s a good opportunity for a mid-season break to recharge the batteries. However, I shall still be doing my Tuesday to Thursday columns as normal, albeit they will likely be shorter than normal.

National Hunt Tipster

Today I’m looking back at Saturday’s big race action. Plus, there’s a Monday tip from Kempton at the end of the main piece.  

Saturday Review

After last weekend’s poor efforts on the punting front. It had to go better this week and so it did with Royale Pagaille and Phoenix Way both successful on Saturday. Then on Sunday Light Brigade won at Thurles and The Galloping Bear bravely carried top-weight to success in the Surrey National at Lingfield.

Indeed, it could have been a stellar weekend, if The Last Day hadn’t have fallen at the last at Haydock on Saturday. The 25/1 pick had travelled well into the race was just in front coming to the last. It hard to say how much he had left in the tank but I think he would have gone close if he had stood up.

Clash Of The Titans

Clashes between the very top chasers have been an increasing rarity outside of the Cheltenham Festival. Both Shishkin and Energumene came into the Clarence House Chase unbeaten over fences which meant that one of them, barring a dead heat, would see their winning run come to an end.  

It’s not often hype races live up to expectations but this one most certainly did.

Energumene was quickly sent to the front. Paul Townend got the horse into a great jumping rhythm. Coming to the last it looked like he would make every post a winning one. Shishkin was two lengths down and I thought Energumene would win. However, Shishkin made relentless headway on the run in to get up the shadow of the post.

The winner is always strong at the end of his races and that likable trait was fully in evidence again on Saturday. His final margin victory was a length which vindicated the official handicapper, as he had just 1lb between the pair before the race.

Energumene jumped the better of the pair on the day with Shishkin jumping slightly to his left. It was a gallant effort from the runner-up who did little wrong. He was just caught by a stronger stayer.

What a race? Even better we get to see a rematch in March. Given his previous Cheltenham form you must fancy Shishkin again in the Champion Chase. However, a couple of less than accurate jumps could easily see the result reversed. The margins are so tight.

Haydock

Whilst Ascot stole the main racing headlines. Haydock also provided plenty of talking points.  

A Royale Performance

Royale Pagaille last season’s Peter Marsh Handicap Chase winner was bidding for back-to-back wins in Haydock feature race. A strong pace was set from the off and it provided a good test of stamina. The top-weight was given a quiet ride out the back in the early stages. Before making steady headway four out. He took the lead off Sam Brown two out but had to dig deep to hold off a rallying Sam Brown in slow motion finish after the last.  

It was a tremendous weight carrying performance form the winner who will once again head for the Cheltenham Gold Cup. He was well beaten in last year’s race on good to soft ground. However, should it be genuinely soft or heavy ground in March he’s not one to underestimate.

Sam Brown was only having his start since November 2020. More prominently ridden than the winner. This was a cracking effort from the 10-year-old who showed he’s on a good handicap mark.  I think he might need sometime to recover from this effort though.

Remastered looked to be travelling as well as anything coming into the straight. However, like last time his effort flattened out and he could only finish 4th.  The well fancied Empire Steel was the big disappointment of the race. Like the winner he was held up at the back of the field. But he didn’t jump with much confidence and was pulled up in the straight. That heavy fall in the Rowland Meyrick may have well have dented his confidence.

Jonbon

The exciting Jonbon was bidding to enhance his Supreme Novice Hurdle claims in the Grade 2 Sky Bet Supreme Trial Rossington Main Novices' Hurdle. He warm in the preliminaries and jockey Aidan Coleman took him out wide to get a good sight of his hurdles. He came to win his race two out but had to respond to his jockey urging's before finally drawing clear of his rivals on the run-in.

It was a workmanlike performance from the winner but given the holding ground it can’t be criticised too much. He should have learnt a lot from this run, certainly more than he had done for his two previous facile successes. Jonbon hasn’t exactly enhanced his Supreme claims but nicer ground suits him better than the Haydock glue. If you have backed him for the Supreme. I wouldn’t be chucking away the ticket just yet.

Tommy’s Oscar

There’s no stopping Tommy’s Oscar who has now won his last four starts after success in the Grade 2 ‘The New One’ Unibet Hurdle. It wasn’t the strongest of renewals of the race. And, yes, he was expected to win on Official Ratings and was sent off the 4/7 favourite. However, on Saturday’s ground anything could happen. He’s now earned the right to go for the Champion Hurdle. It’s an open enough race, Honeysuckle apart, and he’s another who could get into the places.

Monday Racing

Three meetings on Monday all on the all-weather. We have afternoon cards at Kempton and Southwell followed by a teatime fixture at Wolverhampton. I have probably done my quota of winners over the weekend but here’s one from Kempton.

Kempton

2:15 – Al Suil Eile's last win came over C&D in February, off 6lb higher. He’s been in good form since returning from a short break early in the month. Finishing runner-up at Woverhampton before disappointing at Southwell. The 6-year-old quickly bounced back to form when a ¾-length 3rd of 13 at back at Southwell 8-days ago. Provided this race doesn’t come to quick. He’s got a good draw in stall 2 and seems likely to get the strong pace he needs.

Monday Selection:

Kempton

On Course Profits free Horse Racing magazine

2:15 – Al Suil Eile

Good luck with your Monday bets.

John

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