Well the Cheltenham clock continues to tick toward the start of this year’s festival. There’s now just 15-days until the tapes go up and the crowd roars the start on the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle.
Maybe it’s the lack of any real winter that has made Cheltenham seem to come along quicker than normal. It really doesn’t seem that long since we were welcoming in the New Year.
In this week’s post. You can read my thoughts on last Saturday’s Eider Chase and a few other things…
Eider Handicap Chase Review
Often the Eider Chase is run on bottomless ground. Due to the unseasonably dry winter. This year’s race took place in warm-spring like sunshine and on good to soft ground.
I had tipped up four horses in the race for Victor Value subscribers including the winner, advised at 16/1 which is always satisfying. Here are my thoughts on the race.
Drama At The Start….
The race provided a thriller of a finish, but the drama began early in the race.
At the start the David Pipe trained Daklondike planted himself and decided he didn’t fancy running 4m. Then at the first last year’s winner Baywing fell heavily and suffered a fatal injury.
Anyway, back to the race itself.
Kilkishen Takes Them Along…
Harry The Viking and Just Your Type vied for the lead for the first six fences with Irish raider Kilkishen on their heels. The latter took it up after the 6th with Just Your Type almost alongside.
The pair continued at the head of affairs until the 16th. At that fence Kilkishen who had jumped much better than he had done on his previous start, jumped out to his right and hampered Just Your Type who almost lost his rider at the next fence.
Morney Wing Goes for Home…
Coming to four out Kilkishen was still in the lead but now with Morney Wing on his outside. It was the latter who took up it up after the 4th last and his jockey Rex Dingle sent his horse for home. Mysteree who had started to get the hurry up from his jockey four out made headway to take the lead off Morney Wing after the third last.
Mysteree Goes Down On His Shield..
Jumping the second last Mysteree was still in the lead from Morney Wing with the more patiently ridden Crosspark making relentless progress. On the run-in Crosspark managed to overhaul the eventual runner-up, who to his credit rallied in the final few yards and cut the winners margin to just a neck.
Crosspark Proves His Stamina…
Both the winner and runner-up deserve credit for providing such an exciting finish. Mysteree's stamina for this marathon trip was never in doubt as he had won this race in the mud in 2017.
The first-time blinkers clearly worked the trick as the 11-year-old bounced back to something like his best. All his best form prior to this run had come on soft or heavy so the sounder surface probably wasn’t ideal.
Crosspark was unproven beyond 3m 5f but he raced like he would be suited by a marathon trip. The drying ground was very much in his favour. His backers can also be grateful to jockey Jamie Moore who gave him a perfect ride to produce the 9-year-old at just the right time.
Crosspark is a credit to his trainer Caroline Bailey and he’s young enough to remain competitive in these marathon chasers next season.
But Stamina Runs Out For Kimberlite
The Tom Lacey trained Kimberlite County didn’t jump with much fluency over the first few fences, but his jockey got him into a better rhythm, and he was travelling powerfully in midfield for most of the race. Coming to four out he looked certain to take a hand in the finish, but his stamina ran coming to the third last. He plugged on to finish 5th at the line.
In the same ownership Rock On Fruity was also going well enough to four out but was another whose stamina failed him.
Potters Cross was under strong pressure but still in with a chance when coming to the last. This is the second successive race he’s come down at the final fence, when still in with a chance.
Vicente, trained by Paul Nicholls, was all the rage in the betting before the race and was sent off the 5/1 joint favourite with Kimberlite County. He never seemed to be travelling with any real enthusiasm from an early stage and in all truth never looked like he would get competitive.
He's not one to trust.
Kimberlite County, had caught my eye when 3rd at Sandown on his previous run. He remains a progressive young handicap chaser and a drop to around 3m 2f will surely see the 7-year-old land a valuable pot. He looks the one to take out of this years race.
Something for The Weekend
It’s no exaggeration to say that you can count the number of good races on the fingers of one hand on the two weekends on the lead up to the Cheltenham Festival.
Next week for example: There is the William Hill Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) over 2m 4f. Whilst at Doncaster we have the 3m 2f William Hill Grimthorpe Handicap Chase and that’s about it.
No bookmaker has opened a book on either race at the time of writing. Which tells its own story!
So, this week I will just look at few key pointers for each race rather than do a more in-depth preview.
2:40 – William Hill Supporting Greatwood Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) – 2m 4f.
Last years renewal of the race was won by Thomas Crapper. His win broke the stranglehold that Paul Nicholls has had on the race in the past ten runnings of the race.
Paul Nicholls – 7 winners from 20 runners 35% +43.83 9 placed 45%
Nicholls has provided 70% of the winners from 18% of the total runners. I think we can fairly assume from those results it’s a race he likes to win.
All his seven winners shared the following traits:
Age: 6yo to 8yo
Chase Wins: 1 to 3
7 winners from 10 runners 70% +53.83 8 placed 80%
Venetia Williams also seems to target the race without the level of success of Nicholls – 1 winner from 10 runners 10% -6 5 placed 50%
3:35 – William Hill Grimthorpe Handicap Chase Cl2 – 3m2f
If you are looking for some trends pointers to shortlist contenders for the Grimthorpe, you could probably do worse than focus on runners with the following traits:
Age: 8yo to 11yo
Max Distance Won: 3m 2f
Runs In Previous 90-Days: 1 to 3
The last ten winners of the race shared the above and produced the following set of results:
10 winners from 46 runners +37.33 17 placed
Last weeks “wise guy” selection, Mcgowans Pass, was well backed before the race. However, he took too strong a hold and after leading most of the way weakened out of contention when headed two out.
He must settle better in his races if he’s to take advantage of his mark. Maybe connections will reach for the hood next time.
This week I am off to Ayr and Wolverhampton for two tips.
2:20 – Felix Mendelsohn – The 8-year-old doesn’t have the best of win records 1 win from 24 runs 4 placed, including 0 wins from 11 runs over hurdles. He’s on a competitive mark based on his best form for previous trainer Joseph O’Brien and shaped with a shade of promise when 6th 0f 17 at Wetherby 6-days ago. The sounder the surface the better for him.
Trainer Stuart Colthard had a winner at Carlisle yesterday and he’s got a decent record with his handicap hurdlers at the track. Having had 6 winners from 19 runners 32% +39 7 placed 37% in the past 5-years.
In a poor race I can see the selection going close.
Felix Mendelsohn – 7/1 or bigger
6:55 – The race of the day. Three of today’s field: Merhoob, Gulliver and Raucous, finished second, third and fourth in a similar race at Lingfield 9-days ago.
Merhoob, got the best of runs of the three. Raucous, was returning from a 213-day lay off so this was a promising return to action. The 6-year-old is having his first start here but was runner-up at the tapeta at Newcastle last Saturday.
Gulliver, was poorly drawn and also ended up making his effort widest of all covering more ground than the two horses who finished in front of him. He’s gone 15 races since his last win, but he’s been knocking on the door, is on a winnable mark and is previous C&D winner.
Gulliver – 3/1 or bigger
Good luck with this week’s punting.
Until next week