Good morning all,
The curtain descended on the 2020-2021 NH season on Saturday at Sandown. Although the Irish one still has few days left. Starting on Tuesday we have five days of action at the Punchestown Festival. I will be looking at some of the best of the action from Punchestown over the next four days.
Inside today’s main piece I look back at Saturday’s highlights from Sandown. Plus, I have had a look at a handful of races from today’s Naas card.
A season like no other
A ten month jumps season, watched by very few paying spectators, came to an end at Sandown. We can only hope things are different next season. The final day of action did provide a couple of highlights and a dramatic finish to the big handicap chase.
Frodon digs deep
Frodon dug deep for Bryony Frost to win the Oaksey Chase. The 9-year-old not only wins races because of his excellent jumping but because he has a big heart.
Jumping the last it looked like Mister Fisher had got the measure of Frodon. However, over distance short of his best Frodon found plenty for his jockey’s urgings to get back up in the final strides. What a warrior the 9-year-old is?
Greaneteen lands first Grade 1
Altior was back for the first time since Boxing Day and racing in the first time cheekpieces in the Grade 1 Celebration Chase and the first-time headgear certainly lit him up.
Going straight into the lead the 11-year-old put in a imperious round of jumping. However, the brisk pace he set though just set the race up for the well placed Greaneteen.
Nipping up the inside on the downhill was a race winning move by Greaneteen who soon went clear of Altior to win by an easy 3 lengths with the pair pulling clear of the rest.
Altior ran a good race. He’s just not as good as he used to be and didn’t have the gears to handle the winner on good ground. He does look worth a a try over further next season.
As for Greaneteen, he finally delivered on his potential to register a first success in Grade 1 company. He will be competitive in all the two-mile Grade 1 chases next season but he will come up against Shishkin which will be a stiffer test for the 7-year-old.
Bet365 Gold Cup drama
The Bet365 Gold Cup has provided plenty of dramatic and controversial finishes in the past and this year’s race was no exception.
Coming to the last it looked like the strong travelling Enrilo would go on to win the race and give trainer Paul Nicholls a third chase win on the day. However, the Sandown hill can be a lonely place and the inexperienced novice idled out in front. He hung left in the final stages broadsiding the staying on Kitty’s Light in the process.
Enrilo held on to finish first past the post with Potterman just getting up for second with Kitty’s Light a short head back in third.
Not surprisingly a Stewards Enquiry was called and Enrilo was disqualified and placed third. Potterman promoted to first However, the unlucky horse was Kitty’s Light. Yes, I’m biased as he was my selection but he was finishing his race off strongly and given he finished just ¾ length behind Enrilo there’s no doubt in my mind that he would have won but for that interference.
It was a great effort by a 5-year-old and his day will surely come but he will need the sort of ground he got on Saturday.
Plenty of racing for punters to get stuck into today. With the best of the action across the Irish Sea at Naas. The card gets underway at 1:25 with a maiden for juvenile fillies over 6f and contains several well-bred newcomers.
1:55 – Naas Racecourse Business Club Handicap – 6f
Coill Avon had racecourse experience on his side when beating leading 2,000 Guineas fancy St Mark’s Basilica at the Curragh last summer. He ran well below that form on his next start in a Group 3 last time. Has been gelded in the off season and but needs to have improved to defy a mark of 90 on his handicap debut.
The lightly raced Sounds Of Spring improved to win a Navan maiden on his final start of 2020 and made an encouraging return to action when 3rd of 17 over C&D 29-days ago. This will be the quickest ground he’s encountered but if he handles it won’t be far away.
2:25 – Anglesey Lodge Equine Hospital Woodlands Stakes (Listed Race) – 5f
Make A Challenge is the best horse on ratings and the one to beat. He was in good form last season winning four times and made a nice return to action when 3rd of 15 in a Cork Listed race. The cheekpieces left off last time are back on today. Capable of winning this although the ground will probably be as quick as he wants it.
The ultra-consistent Mooneista has only won one of her nine career starts but has placed 6 times. The 3-year-old seemed to put a much-improved effort when 2nd of 15 in a Cork handicap 23-days ago. Ground fine for the filly but it won’t be easy for a 3-year-old. Still given her profile she’s a lively each-way contender.
2:55 – Blackwater Handicap – 1m
The Aidan 0’Brien trained HMS Seahorse finished runner-up in a Leopardstown maiden 15-days ago. He's probably capable of better on a sound surface and makes his handicap debut off what could be a good mark.
I like the claims of another handicap debutant in the shape of Grid. The Joseph O’Brien 3-year-old shaped with plenty of promise on his three juvenile starts and ended last season with a useful fourth to Epsom Derby contender Bolshoi Ballet. Might prove better at 1m 2f. He starts his handicap career off a competitive mark and is open to more improvement on his seasonal return.
2:55 – Grid – 6/1
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