Good morning all.
I’m keeping my jumps hat firmly on again today. As I continue my reflections on the weekend’s action at Cheltenham and Aintree on Sunday. I chatted yesterday about Rouge Vif and Frodon performances at Cheltenham's Showcase Meeting. Well inside today's main piece I have three for the tracker from Cheltenham and Aintree for you. Plus, I have a selection from Bangor.
I mentioned yesterday that Minello Indo and Andy Dufresne were both making their seasonal returns at Wexford on Monday. They didn’t disappoint either with both winning their respective races.
Minella on the Cheltenham trail
Minella Indo caught in the final strides by Champ when runner-up in the RSA at the Festival was facing a race fit rival in Kim Muir winner Milan Native. The pair went toe to toe but coming to two out Minella Indo asserted and soon went clear of his rival.
The second is a high-class staying handicapper so this was a really good performance from the winner. I thought Minella Indo's jumping was superb and he looks set for a good season.
The Gold Cup is very much on the agenda for the 7-year-old who goes well at Cheltenham. He’s now a best priced 12/1 with Sky Bet for Cheltenham and those odds still look good to me.
Dufresne bids for redemption
Andy Dufresne a winner of a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Punchestown in January before finishing third at Naas a month later. Making his chase debut in the beginners’ chase, it couldn't have gone much better either for the 6-year-old. Apart from a mistake four out it was a great introduction to chasing. Taking it up two out he went clear of his rivals to win easily.
It will get harder from now onwards but there should be plenty of improvement to come from him. After the race trainer Gordon Elliott was talking about the Grade 1 Drinmore Novices Chase as a possible target and the step up to 2m 4f should suit Andy Dufresne.
Owner J P McManus also had the third home in Ilikedwayurthinkin. Twice a winning handicap hurdler this was his second start over fences. He finished third, albeit a well beaten one, at the finish. His jumping was much better than it had been on his chase debut, and given connections he’s one to note when going down the handicap route!
Did we see a Cheltenham Festival winner on show at Wexford on Monday? I think we did.
Four for the tracker
Time to get some National Hunt horses into your trackers. I have four (five) for you this week.
Up The Straight – Nick Gifford
Up The Straight finished third to Siskin in a Listed race at Huntingdon in February before winning a second novice hurdle at Kempton a month later. The 6-year-old had run well for a long way on his seasonal return at 20-days previously. He came from the rear to run on into third, although it never looked like he would catch the winner Captain Tom Cat. Both his career wins have come on good to soft/heavy so he would probably have preferred Saturday’s rain to have come earlier. The gelding remains progressive and can win a handicap hurdle.
Clondaw Caitlin – Ruth Jefferson
A very progressive hurdler last season making it 3 wins from 3 runs over hurdles with a Grade 2 novice hurdle success in February. The mare was thrown into the deep end for her debut over fences in what looked like a hot novice chase won by Galvin. It was her first start beyond 2m 4f under rules but this is her trip over the larger obstacles. She was staying on steadily from three out to take third on the run in. Her best form over hurdles came on soft/heavy ground so there should be more to come from the 5-year-old when she gets more juice in the ground than on Friday.
Alminar – Nigel Hawke
A maiden over hurdles Alminar improved for going chasing, winning two of his first five starts over the larger obstacles. The last of those wins come when winning a heavy ground handicap chase at Chepstow in January.
Not seen since pulling up at Warwick 230-days previously. The 7-year-old made a promising return to action when 3rd of 13 in the amateur rider’s handicap chase on Saturday. In with every chance two out he kept on steadily all the way to the line and just failed to grab the second at the line. The soft ground suited but he probably needs it even deeper than he got here.
Offalltheginjoints – Colin Tizzard
Ofalltheginjoints won on his hurdles debut last October but failed to win any of his next four starts over the smaller obstacles. Given his size he was always expected to be a better chaser than hurdler.
Returned from a 261-day break to finish a close-up third behind Acey Milan in the novices’ handicap chase at Aintree on Sunday. He travelled powerfully through the race and was going better than the eventual winner three out. He was headed at the last and his earlier exertions took their toll on the run in and he finished third. It was a good start over fences for the 6-year-old and he will surely win one of these in the coming weeks, especially as the trainer’s runners are looking like they need a run.
Rapper who had run well when 7th of 24 in the Pertemps Final at the Festival on his final start last season, was also making his debut over fences in the race. He was staying on all the way to the line to finish 4th and this was a good introduction to the larger obstacles from the Henry Daly trained 6-year-old. Like the Tizzard horse he should win races in the sphere.
Note to self don’t put up unraced juveniles up as selection, however good their pedigree’s. Manassas, weak in the pre-race betting was one of the first beaten and trailed a tailed off last of the nine runners. Clearly something was amiss as he can’t be that bad a horse. Can he?
Many other fancy Outrage bounced back to form to finish a close-up second in the 5f handicap. He was travelling strongly in the rear but didn’t get the clearest of runs a furlong on. He was a bit unlucky not to win this.
On to Tuesday and it looks grim to be honest.
Liosduin Bhearna ended last season with a heavy ground handicap hurdle at Doncaster in February. He makes his debut over fences in the beginners’ chase (3:25). A course winner over hurdles. If the rain arrives and eases the ground further the 7-year-old can make a winning chase debut.
Bangor’s eight race card is moderate. However, my Tuesday selection goes in the handicap chase at 1:30.
1:30 – Miss Amelia goes very well in the mud as she showed when winning over C&D last December. Shaped like’s capable of winning off her present mark when 3rd of 10 on her seasonal return at Hexham 17-days ago. Will be shaper today and can go close.
Miss Amelia – 3/1 @ Bet365
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Good luck with your Tuesday bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk