Good morning all,
The first few weeks of January tend to be miserable on the quality front. Add in no crowds at racecourses and what looks like some bitterly cold weather lined up for most of this week. Things can only get better. You would hope so. However, looming on the horizon is another national lockdown. A lockdown which could resemble what we had in the spring.
What does that mean for professional sport and of course horse racing? I think we should brace ourselves for the real possibility that the sport maybe taking another break. Fingers crossed my gloomy prognosis is wrong.
On the plus side we do have some good racing to look forward to this Saturday, weather permitting of course, with the re-scheduled Welsh Grand National at Chepstow. At Kempton it’s the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle and in addition the Relkeel Hurdle moved from Cheltenham’s cancelled New Year’s Day fixture. Even Wincanton gets in on the act with Dipper Novices Chase, also from that Cheltenham meeting.
A great week of racing ended at Sandown on Saturday. Inside today’s main piece you can read my thoughts on a couple of races from that card. Plus, I have a selection from Fakenham.
Harry Fry has a genuine Cheltenhan Festival contender in the Tolworth winner Metier. Trained on the flat in Ireland, by Andrew Slattery, the 5-year-old made it 3-3 over hurdles with an impressive 12 lengths success.
Having made all at Ascot on his previous start. The gelding proved his tactical versatility as jockey Sean Bowen got him settled in just behind the leaders. Travelling noticeably well, favourite backers must have been delighted to see him with a double handful turning into the straight.
Granted it probably wasn’t the strongest ever renewal of the race. However, there’s no doubt Metier is a young and exciting hurdler going places. His jumping was slick and he was strong at the finish. Clearly well suited by soft ground, if he’s as effective on quicker ground he’s all the attributes needed to become a high class.
Veterans Chase Final
It’s no hyperbole to say the Veterans Chase Final has become one of the most eagerly awaited races of the winter.
Fifteen went to post for a race which produced a good winner in that “absolute warrior” Seeyouatmidnight. The 13-year-old hasn’t been the easiest to keep sound in recent seasons but trainer Sandy Thomson had the old boy spot on for the day.
Always in a prominent position, just behind early leader Strong Pursuit, jockey Ryan Mania got him into a good jumping rhythm from the off. He took over the lead four out and from then on never looked like he would be caught.
Crosspark gave valiant pursuit after the last, to finish a length behind the winner but was never quite getting there. His cause probably wasn’t helped by walking through the final two fences. The admirably consistent 11-year-old has now finished runner-up on his four starts this season and has been beaten less than a length in all of them
Sir Ivan almost gave Sean Bowen and Harry Fry a third winner on the card. Apart from the winner he travelled best of all. The 11-year-old's stamina was always going to be tested on soft ground and was beaten by a couple of stronger stayers on the day.
2:55 – Le Sacre has failed to complete on either start but the 12-year-old will like the soft ground and is just 2lb above his last winning mark. Trainer John Flint had a winner at Newbury last week so the yard are in form and he should give his backers a good run for their money in this 3m 5f handicap chase.
Le Sacre – 13/2 @ Paddy Power & Betfair Sportsbook
Good luck with your Monday bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk