Plenty to get through this week. I promise not drone on too much. Inside this week’s bumper article I will be looking back at Saturday’s Peter Marsh Handicap Chase. I will also be looking forward to Thursday’s Thyestes Handicap Chase at Gowran Park, it’s always good to have a big handicap to look forward to during the week, and Saturday's Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster. You can find all this and my Monday tip inside….
Wakanda The Warrior
Rather than look at Altior’s bloodless win at Ascot. Let’s take a look at Haydock’s Peter Marsh Handicap Chase. A race was won by the Sue Smith trained Wakanda. I had advised Wakanda at 12/1, so its always good to talk about a successful punt. In fact, my three selections for the race were Wakanda, Robinsfirth and Ballydine who were the first three home.
That’s the trumpet blowing out of the way. Let’s have a look at the race itself. It’s not often that a Peter Marsh Chase is run on anything going quicker than soft. Indeed, you have to go back to 2004 to find a renewal run with good in the going description.
Coming into the race Wakanda looked on a competitive mark, being just 1lb higher than when winning the Sky Bet Chase 12 months ago. So it proved as the 10-year-old put in a battling performance to hold off his rivals and give trainer Sue Smith a fourth win in the race.
There were no real hard luck stories. Although if the runner-up Robinsfirth hadn’t have made a mistake four out, when making headway, he would have been closer. Likewise, the third home Ballydine would have got closer but for a bad mistake three out.
Of the rest Otago Trail hasn’t built on his Rehearsal Chase effort for the second time. I think the ground wasn’t soft enough for him on Saturday. He’s not one to give up on just yet.
The 2017 Grand National hero One For Arthur continued his comeback by unseating his rider for the second race running. On his previous start he didn’t get past the third fence. He got further this time. However, he was still at the back of the field, albeit not totally out of it, when losing his jockey four from home.
The market seemed to anticipate a poor run as he was a big drifter on the day. He’s a hold up horse who has to be brought into his race slowly so no issue with the tactics. Indeed, I think he would have finished closer to the places but for his error. But jumping is the name of the game and in that department, he wasn’t good at all.
Clearly the Grand National is his target but you would want to see him put in a decent round of jumping if he’s to be considered a Grand National bet.
Deadly Approach, trained by Sarah-Jayne Davies, caught the eye when finishing 3rd to Dicosimo at Haydock. The 8-year-old hadn’t got beyond the third fence on his seasonal reappearance, after a 446-day layoff at Chepstow. However, this was much more like it from the gelding. He’s become a very well-handicapped horse. based on his spring form in 2017. On the evidence of this run it won’t be too long before he’s back in the winner’s enclosure.
Thyestes Handicap Chase
On Thursday we have the rare treat of a big midweek race, as Gowran Park hosts the 3m 1f Thyestes Chase. The big race is sure to attract a decent field of handicap chasers.
Looking at some of the ten-year trends:
Top weights or horses within 1lb of the top weight have done rather well in the race. Having had 4 winners from 14 runners +28.59 5 placed 36%. That’s 40% of the winners from just 8% of the total runners.
The top winning most trainer is Willie Mullins with three winners but he has had 28 runners in the race in the past ten years. Interestingly all three of his winners had the following traits:
Odds SP: 12/1 & Under
Last Time Out Placing: 5th or worse
3 winners from 8 runners 38% +21.5 4 placed 50%
Grundy's A Solid Favourite
Not sure who will run but ante-post favourite Solomn Grundy deserves his place at the head of the market. He’s now run two respectable races since joining Henry De Bromhead and was set too much to do in the Paddy Power at Leopardstown.
Mal Dini is still a maiden over fences after 12 starts but he’s run some good races in defeat, including a ½ second in the Kim Muir at Cheltenham. He’s not a certain runner but there is a handicap chase like this in the 9-year-old off his present mark.
At 25/1 you couldn’t rule out a big run from Alpha Des Obeaux who looks overpriced on his best form.
Sky Bet Handicap Chase
Cheltenham Trials Day will grab most of the headlines on Saturday but the Sky Bet Handicap Chase is the days biggest betting race. Like the Thyestes its hard to say who will take up their entry in the race as plenty have alternative targets. Let’s just hope the race doesn’t cut up too much.
Looking at the seven running’s of the race. Here are some of the interesting trends:
Runners with one win at 3m are 5 winners from 29 runners +33.5 10 placed 34%. Those horses who had three runs in the previous 90-days are 5 winners from 36 runners +7.5 9 placed 25%.
Dingo Bids For Another King Win
The five-day declarations for the race are out on Monday lunchtime. Dingo Dollar is the ante-post favourite at 4/1. Third in the Ladbroke Trophy on his last start. The drop back to 3m should suit and his chance is there for all to see. Trainer Alan King won this race in 2016 & 2017 with Ziga Boy.
O O Seven is 5lb higher than when winning a five-runner handicap chase over C&D last month. His best performances on Racing Post Ratings have come on good or good to soft going.
Guitar Pete was third in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup at Cheltenham on his last start and looks worth the step up 3m over fences. He’s just 1lb higher than for his last win and if his stamina holds he’ll be hard to keep out the frame.
Last week’s selection Aircraft Carrier made it back to back wins for the Monday tip. Can we make three from three? If history is any guide then probably not. But we can hope can’t we.
2:05 – Optimistic Bias – The 10-year-old was well down the field here over hurdles on New Year’s Eve. But that was his first run for 424 days. Back over fences and he looks a well handicapped horse on his form over fences in 2017.
Best performances have come on good ground so the drier the ground the better. He stays well and is 5lb lower than his last winning mark. Add in Jonjo O’Neill Jnr’s 5lb claim and you can see how competitive he can be if anything like his old best.
At a double figure price he makes each way appeal.
Optimistic Bias – 14/1 – each way.
Good luck with this week’s punting.
Until next week