I am back in the saddle after a week off. In this weeks post I will be taking a look back at Saturday's Betfair Chase and taking a look forward to Saturday's big racing action. Inside you will also find a selection for Newbury's Ladbroke Trophy, some trends for Newcastle and the normal Monday tip….
Haydock Fences A Mighty Talking Point
The Betfair Chase was billed as the jumps race of the season so far. We had the Gold Cup winner in Native River, two King George VI winners in Might Bite and Thistlecrack, add in a potential improver in Clan Des Obeaux and of course last years winner Bristol De Mai. Now it’s not often that a race lives up to the hype but this one delivered in style!
The big taking point prior to the race was how stiff the fences were. Haydock used to have arguably the biggest and stiffest fences in the country, apart from the Aintree National fences. In recent years there had been complaints that the fences had become too soft and horses could plough through them with ease. It wasn’t the case on Saturday. As Haydock provided a real test of jumping and it was good to see.
I think the modified fences came as big shock to Might Bite's trainer Nicky Henderson. Maybe it wasn’t a good time to roll them out on Grade 1 day with no one knowing how tough they were going to be.
Haydock De Mai
Back to the race itself. It was a vintage renewal with plenty of drama. Bristol De Mai was three from three at Haydock and won last year’s renewal by 56 lengths on heavy. The good ground seemed to have taken his chance away. However, he got into a good jumping rhythm from the off. Either in the lead or close up in second. Once back in the lead four out, he never looked like he would be caught. The 7-year-old found plenty for pressure when required and he clearly wasn’t inconvenienced by the going either.
This was a better performance than last year but can he transfer his excellent form to Kempton and the King George VI on Boxing Day. He ran poorly in the race last year, but maybe the wind-op he had early in the year has done the trick. This was his second run since the op. The first being when beaten by Might Bite at the Grand National Meeting.
Trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies said after the race that the gelding is a fragile horse, whose probably at his best when fresh. Now there is some substance to this view. Looking at his record, over fences, when having had 0 to 1 runs in the previous 90-days he's 4 wins from 8 runs 50% +10.13 7 placed 88% with form figures 21221121.
He will go to this years King George VI having had just 1 run in the previous 90-days. Maybe we’ll see a different Bristol at Kempton? If you think we will, the 8/1 available about his chances will be very tempting.
Bite Is Less Than Mighty
Native River ran well enough to finish second. I think the trainer has his eyes on Cheltenham in March. On a sharp track like Haydock, on good ground, this wasn’t going to be a stiff enough stamina test for the 8-year-old.
Thistlecrack arguably ran a more pleasing race than Native River to finish third. He travelled well between his fences and seemed to be enjoying himself again. Sadly, the stiff fences were his undoing. His jumping was too cautious and he was losing lengths at plenty of the fences. It was his class that kept him in the race. He didn’t have too hard a race though and if he can build on this performance, he would have a chance in the King George.
Might Bite – The even money favourite seemed to travel well enough to three out, albeit tending to over jump at his fences, but when put under pressure he found nothing and soon weakened out of contention to finish last of the five runners. Why did he run so poorly? Maybe it’s a temperament issue and he’s just had enough of racing. For me, it’s more likely he was suffering from a wind issue or another physical ailment.
Igor, trained by Nicky Henderson, is this weeks horse for the tracker. The five-year-old made a pleasing racecourse debut in the maiden hurdle at Ascot on Friday. Physically he was the best horse in the race and has plenty of scope for improvement.
The son of Presenting came with nice looking run coming to two out but a mistake there and a novicey jump at the last cost him any chance he had. He was just beaten by a more experienced horse on the day and the first two finished clear of the rest. The gelding will be better for the experience and can win races over hurdles.
Looking Ahead To The Weekend
Follow The Dollar In Ladbroke
I seem to be wishing my life away as I am already thinking about next weekends racing.
It’s the Hennessey Gold Cup… no I meant the Ladbroke Trophy Handicap Chase at Newbury on Saturday. The name of the race has changed but the race hasn’t. It remains after the Grand National the best handicap chase of the jumps season.
In recent renewals class horses have come to the fore. The last five winners of the race were officially rated between 147 and 157 and all five winners had run just once in the previous 90-days.
One potential runner, who ticks the boxes is Dingo Dollar. The 6-year-old had a recent pipe opener over hurdles, at the beginning of November. He was only 4th that day but there was plenty to like about the run.
He has the makings of good staying handicap chaser this season but I think he could end up being better than that.
I don’t think I saw a better jumping novice chaser all last season than him. At times he can take lengths out of his rivals. He’s a big chasing type with a big stride which devours the ground.
In my mind he’s a potential 156+ horse over fences which means he’s starting the season on a winnable mark.
Fighting Fifth Could Be A Cracker
On a day of top-class racing. It’s Fighting Fifth Hurdle Day at Newcastle. We could see the likes of Buveur D’Air, Samcro and Summerville Boy all in action in the big race. If we do it has the making of the strongest renewal of the race of recent years.
Also, on the card we have the BetVictor Rehearsal Handicap Chase (Listed Race) over 2m 7 ½ f. It doesn’t attract the same size of field as the Ladbroke. Indeed the last eight running's of the race have produced an average of just nine runners.
It’s a good race for the trends all the last eight winners had the following traits:
Official Rating: 140 to 155
Horses Highest Winning Official Rating: 129 to 156.
Odds: 16/1 & under
On a day with few solid betting opportunities. I have gone for Robinshill in the 1:40 at Ludlow. The 7-year-old won this race last year off a 2lb higher mark. That was his second win at the Ludlow. His from figures between Oct and Dec when racing at 2m/2m 1/2f are 111U11. The unseated rider came when leading at the last here. The gelding was last of seven on his reappearance last month at Kempton but he probably needed the run and he'll do for me today.
1:40 – Robinshill – 4/1
Until next week
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