Good morning all,
A nice start to the year as far as the Colossuses go with the Southwell one landing for a few quid. Not a massive dividend but it worked out well enough. Lingfield will be my focus today – only a place pool again but if I get time I may have a go at the Wolverhampton Pick 4 Win pool as well. See how time goes, as I'm busy on a Friday. Lingfield will be up around 10.
For today, with the decs through already, I have had a look at the Veterans Chase at Sandown tomorrow, to see if I can whittle it down before final selections tomorrow.
Veterans Chase (Sandown, Saturday)
Let's try and put the red pen through a few of these for a start. Exitas looks too high in the handicap now and better ground would suit him. Buywise won this last year and is on the same mark, so is dangerous to totally dismiss, and clearly the way he's been campaigned this season all points towards this being his target. But something has to give, so it was a poor effort all the same over hurdles at Cheltenham last time. Bishops Road comes from a yard that were 0-25 in December and although it has to turn around for Kerry Lee at some point, I'd rather wait until it does. Theatre Guide had his conditions last time and should have done better, Kings Lad is generally happier in lower grade (although did win in October in a Class 2, his only win in 13 starts in the grade), On Tour is too inconsistent and might want softer ground anyway, and as much as I respect Venetia's now I'll reluctantly pass over Houblon Des Obeaux as he looks in need of further these days. More on her other one later, though.
And so to Pete The Feat. What to say about the King Of Sandown expect to say at 15 years young, the first thing we hope is that he jumps round safely and comes back in one piece tomorrow. That's what we want to see. Has he a chance of winning it? Only a fool would write him off at his favourite track, but surely younger legs will have his measure.
Another I'm reluctantly leaving off the list is Cultram Abbey, who won with something in hand at Kelso but my Northern horses in Southern handicaps rule kicks in, and he's going to find this a lot harder. Band Of Blood was made favourite to beat him there and reopposes here, but Dr Newland has a better candidate in Rock Gone. We'll come back to him.
Rathlin Rose loves it here and should run his race, but I'll be surprised if he's good enough, and Halo Moon looks a touch outclassed. Which leaves us with a shortlist of four.
Rock Gone is a blindingly obvious one as, despite being 11, has only had the six chase starts and remains unexposed. His second to Loose Chips here in November screamed of a horse that looked the best in the race, but clearly needed that run after an absence of a year, getting tired late as he did. Expect him to come on for that and he still looks very well treated.
Le Reve is second in the betting in most markets and a record of 3 wins and 3 places from 10 starts at Sandown means this is very much his course as well. Qualified for this by finishing last of three behind Beat That at Warwick but he needed that run and although the comments don't tell you as much, he ran on nicely again after the last and showed the engine is still there. He has to go on the shortlist.
It ought not to be forgotten that Henllan Harri won a Bet365 chase around here in his heyday and his efforts last summer suggested he retains plenty of his ability. Conditions look fine for him but the concern is the lack of a run – his record fresh is mixed, to say the least. Nevertheless, he's got the class to carry this off, and so has to be shortlisted. As does Tenor Nivernais, who looks the stronger of the two Venetia candidates. The yard form alone entitles him to plenty of respect but he went well for a long way at Ascot last time and looked like he was running himself into a bit of form. He might have Loose Chips up front to give him a lead as well, and he makes plenty of appeal too.
We'll wait for the markets to sort themselves out later on, and no doubt some books will go extra places, and that'll shape how I play the race. Stay tuned for the Saturday Preview!
On to today and a second try for Don't Tell George in the 3.05 at Lingfield. This giant of a horse showed promise on more than one occasion last year and clearly needed the run first time up a lot more than I expected. He's better than that and now he's had a wind operation I'm hoping to see a lot more today. Too early to give up on him and soft ground seemed to suit him well last year.
Good luck with all your bets today,