Good morning all,
I see from the news this morning that Finian's Oscar is making the switch back from fences to hurdles, classed as a “surprise” according to the RP, but readers of the Punt won't see it that way – I have said from the start of the season he doesn't really have the scope to make a chaser and this looks a smart move. Anyone who took the bigger prices on him for the Stayers Hurdle NRNB are in a decent position now – can't say I did, but good luck to you if you're on.
Second part of Sandown today, which includes an interesting Tolworth Hurdle, plus a selection from Kempton that's on the watching list from last season.
And so to the Tolworth. On the preview I’d done for Saturday’s racing I’d said the key to Summerville Boy was to keep an eye on him pre-race. And whilst he wasn’t the perfect patient here, he was certainly much more tractable than he was at Cheltenham and went down much better too. As such, I went and had a bit on him at 9s and was delighted to see him come out on top. He’s still a work in progress, that’s obvious, and will be even better when seeing fences, but make no mistake, this was a good performance and he will be better again on good ground. The pace of the Supreme will suit him as well and quotes of 20-1 NRNB have got me interested. He’ll be underrated on this as Western Ryder has blown out and many will crab the form, but this is about the horse, not the form, and what he may yet be capable of.
Kalashnikov, who looked well but interestingly, less of a standout here than he did at Doncaster (maybe not that big a surprise, in truth) kept the winner up to his work in the end but he just looked short of toe at various stages before staying on after the last. It was no surprise to hear trainer Amy Murphy say afterwards that although Cheltenham was still on her mind, the Neptune looks more his thing now.
I did have a saver on The Russian Doyen as well but in truth he simply wasn’t up to the task at this stage of his career and already needs much more of a trip. Mont Des Avaloirs, who I was worried about as far as his jumping went here, actually hurdled well until push came to shove two out and a mistake there sealed his fate. Nevertheless, a decent effort and the good pace he set makes the form believable.
As much as it was a joy to watch Buywise and Pete The Feat fight out the Veterans Chase, we’re not going to learn much from that, but the handicap hurdle that closed the card might be of some interest, given that the two potential improvers, Call Me Lord and Our Merlin, finished 1-2 here, giving the form a solid look. Call Me Lord showed his Huntingdon form all wrong (never settled there) with a quite impressive display, coming away nicely after the last to win under top weight with a bit in hand. He’s going to go up in the weights quite a bit for this and may well be up to winning in Graded company, but given he has to go right-handed (according to his trainer, anyway) it does rather limit his options. (Update – I did have a thought last night about whether connections might be tempted to take in the Champion Hurdle with him, given that, if they wanted to go to the County then he'd almost certainly carry top weight. That all might be irrelevant anyway, because if he does want to go right-handed, it'll not matter which race he's in. Still, 40-1 NRNB with Fred makes a bit of appeal.)
Our Merlin has just bumped into one here and you’d be a hard man to say it was the weight rise that stopped him. Indeed, he might get another 3 or 4lb for this effort but he’s clearly improving quickly and can win again.
Back in third, Gassin Golf travelled as well as anything and Brian Hughes was determined to track Call Me Lord, but he just got found out for a turn of foot after two out before running on at one pace. No doubt the Imperial Cup will be on the agenda again, given his liking for this track, but he’s such a frustrating sort, with still only the one hurdles win to his name.
Back in the field Monty’s Award passed a few late on but they were mostly beaten animals anyway, and he’s merely picked up a few pieces here.
Both Clayton and Drops Of Jupitor look on high enough handicap marks now.
Could do with a winner, the majority last week ran like drains and Oscar Rose only just fell into the frame yesterday , although getting hampered early didn't help her cause. I shall stick with her for the time being. For today, there's one I liked a lot at Yarmouth last year that reappears in the 4.45 at Kempton today, and that's John Gosden's Orchid Lily. I marked her down as one that should do better this year – she's a good looker, but was just a bit keen in her races last year – so hopefully if she's settled down a bit she should have her chance here.
Today's selection – Orchid Lily 4.45 Kempton
Good luck with all your bets today,