Kalashnikov Mows Down Rivals
The betting race of Saturday was the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury but it was the seasonal returns by Native River and Altior that captured my attention there this weekend.
Native River put himself very much into the picture for next months Gold Cup with a second successive win in the Denman Chase. The 8-year-old jumped really well out in front and was much too strong for his two rivals. A frustrating winter for trainer Colin Tizzard, with Cue Card’s and Thistlecrack’s performances, could still yield a great spring for the trainer. The last few days have seen a notable upturn in the stables form and his runners this week will be worth noting.
Thirty five minutes later it was Altior to make a winning seasonal return when taking the Game Spirit Chase. Last year’s Arkle winner justified his short odds in dispatching the race fit Politologue by 4 lengths. Not surprisingly then that the 8-year-old was cut into odds on for the Champion Chase by a number of firms. Trainer Nicky Henderson will have left something to work on. He looks set to follow in the hoof prints of former stable star Sprinter Sacre and be crowned the Champion Two Mile Chaser next month.
Kalashnikov ploughed through the mud to land the Betfair Hurdle for rookie trainer Amy Murphy. He proved he was a well handicapped horse and continued the good record of novice hurdlers and even more so 5 and 6-year-old in the race as this age group has now won the last ten renewals of the race. Some races just seem to stand out on the key trends and the Betfair Hurdle is one of those races.
He will now head to the Supreme Novices Hurdle at Cheltenham and he has to be a strong contender for the places at the very least in that race. I had advised him at 12/1 on Saturday morning to my subscribers for the race so it rounded off a good day for me and them.
Saint Calvados Jumps Into Arkle Picture
The performance of the weekend for me came not at Warwick. As the Harry Whittington trained Saint Calvados won the 2m Kingmaker Novices Chase. I have to confess that I backed Saint Calvados at 33/1 for the Arkle Novices Chase after his win at Newbury and that ante-post bet is looking plenty of value now as he is now as low a 6/1 with Bet365 and William Hill for that race. I don’t think I have seen a novice jump as well as he did in a long time, when making all, to make it three from three over fences.
Granted he has to prove he’s as effective on a sounder surface, jockey Aidan Coleman thinks he wont have any problem with it, although the horse does have a bit of a knee action. Likewise the 5-year-old has to prove himself on an undulating track like Cheltenham. Footpad remains the one to beat in the Arkle but for me I am more than happy to be on Saint Calvados each way at 33/1.
Cheltenham Festival: Horses for the Tracker
The 2m 4 ½ f Martin Pipe Conditional Jockey’s Handicap Hurdle on the final day of the Cheltenham Festival, is a race normally won by a future staying chaser. Since the race was first run in 2009, the likes of Don Poli, Killutagh Vic, Attaglance and Sir Des Champs have managed to get into the winners enclosure. The top performing trainer is Willie Mullins whose had 3 winners from 14 runners 21% +12.5 5 placed 36%.
Willie will no doubt have a few runners in the race but the one that stands out for me of his potential runners is Deal D’estruval. The 5-year-old won a 2m 5f Tramore maiden hurdle on his first start for the trainer on New Year’s Day and was backed into 9/1 for his handicap hurdle debut at the Dublin Racing Festival at Leopardstown. Despite the drop in trip to 2m he showed he was a well handicapped horse with an excellent 2nd placed effort in a 28 runner field.
He has been put up 6lb by the Irish handicapper for that performance and with the addition of the ‘Irish Tax’ by the British handicapper he should now be able to get into the Martin Pipe. For those interested he can be backed ante post at 14/1 with William Hill for the race which looks more than fair if he gets a run. A real ‘dark horse’ who looks set for improvement when stepped back up in trip and is one to keep onside in the spring.
More mundane Monday racing for us, at least over jumps, with jumps action from Catterick and Plumpton and Wolverhampton hosts an all-weather evening card which to be fair does contain to Class 2 handicaps. Given the uncertainty regarding the weather it’s probably wise to head to Wolverhampton for today’s selection
6:40 – Haines trained by Andrew Balding won this race last year off a 2lb lower mark and with the able William Cox taking off a valuable 5lb he is virtually running off last years mark. Has only had two starts since the spring and showed the benefit for his first run back when 2nd at Kempton last month. No doubt trainer Andrew Balding has aimed the 7-year-old at this race again and at around 4/1 he looks worth a bet.
Haines – 4/1
All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable week’s betting.
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