Good morning all,
I was fully expecting to go to Huntingdon today and learn a few things, but on waking to learn that all racing is cancelled due to an outbreak of equine flu, it seems nobody will be going anywhere for a while.
We can only hope it can be contained as quickly as possible – seems from a quick look a the subject it can take months in some cases – and with Cheltenham only a few weeks away, we can only keep out fingers crossed we don't face a similar scenario.
For today, the first of two parts reviewing last Saturday's Sandown meeting, which I attended, With no racing today, there will be no selection at the end – I don't even look at Meydan, it's not my thing at all!
12.40 – Novice Hurdle
In the main, a very nice looking field, but I couldn’t have got it more wrong if I’d tried.
There was a paddock standout for me, the angular and future chaser Jaytrack Parkhomes, trained by Colin Tizzard, who looked very fit and ready to do himself justice after a slightly disappointing effort the time before. However, he threw another stinker in, jumping poorly, never looking a threat at any stage and fading out of it. Maybe he needs better ground, maybe he’s slow, maybe he’s no good. Whatever, after this effort I’d be reluctant to go wading in again.
Tizzard also trained the favourite, Beaufort West, another that unsurprisingly will want fences (almost all of Colin’s do, it seems) and was fit and well. I didn’t think he was quite as well in his coat as my pick, but that was all there was between them. He ran well to finish second, looking like a bit further might help his cause, but I did not expect Winston C to be the one to beat him.
Don’t get me wrong, he was match fit, but compared to most of these was small in stature, and a combination of that, plus the sticky ground and the fact he had a penalty to carry led me to believe he wouldn’t win this, or indeed get close. Wrong again! He travelled perfectly well and picked up well when asked. Now either this is a very good effort, maybe better than the figures would have you believe, or the rest are not up to much. Given they looked a good lot, I’m going to take this at face value and say Winston C could be very useful indeed. Be interesting to see where they go with him next, although the final of this series looks a fair shout.
Back in third was Bullfrog, who I did at least call right as she looked very well and fit after an absence, and attracted some early money in the ring at big prices too. She has loads of scope about her and plenty of size for her age and sex, and a Mares novice hurdle would be a penalty kick on this showing. I like her a lot and you’ll see the best of her next year.
The Henderson pair of El Kaldoun and Raising The Bar both badly needed the run, both looked a bit dull in their coats too and overall, unimpressive. Paddy A is one for summer jumps handicaps – a smaller, nippier Flat type that will do better once the ground quickens up. Elton Des Mottes has the size but looks a work in progress at the minute.
1.50 – Contenders Hurdle
Buveur D’Air is never going to feature in anyone’s Top 50 Horses That Knock Your Eye Out, as a physical specimen he’s fine, but not much more than that, but boy do looks belie what ability he has. Kempton showed us he wasn’t bombproof after all, but he faced a simple task here and made the most of it. Next stop will be the Champion Hurdle, but enter stage left Apple’s Jade to try and spoil the party….
Runner-up Vision Des Flos was probably just about paddock best but in truth nothing looked outstanding. It would appear from the way he’s travelled here that the wind operation seems to have done the track, but he was very flattered to get within two lengths of the winner (who was in front a lot longer than he would have liked) and for me, will be tough to place.
The one to probably take out of this was Roksana, who has plenty of size about her (quite leggy) and looked very much in need of the run. Neither the way the race panned out, or indeed this trip, would be her thing but she travelled perfectly well into it and didn’t give best until late on. If Apple’s Jade’s defection to the Champion Hurdle actually happens (I’ll believe it when I see it) the Mares looks an open contest, and she’d have to come into it off the back of this, with the extra half mile very much in her favour.
Ravyin Black had two handlers in the paddock and was pretty revved up – sadly, he didn’t even fancy leading this time around and cocked his head when passing the stables. Basically looks like he’s had enough for the time being.
Good luck if you are having a bet today,