Good morning all,
It was bone chillingly cold on Sunday morning and we lost both Hereford and Thurles to the snow yesterday and today’s Market Rasen card has been lost to the cold weather. There is good news though. It looks the like cold snap is coming to an end with milder weather being forecast for the middle and end of the week. However, along with the better temperatures comes rain and plenty of the wet stuff is expected. It looks like Saturday’s Cheltenham Trial’s Day and Doncaster Sky Bet Handicap Chase will be run on deep winter ground.
Tomorrow I will be looking at the form of the Colin Tizzard yard, the retirement of David Mullins and the ongoing Irish doping scandal.
Inside today’s main piece I look at Saturday’s highlight performances from Ascot and Haydock. Plus, I have a selection from Plumpton.
Despite the pessimistic forecasts Haydock somehow managed to race on Saturday, which is a tribute to Clerk of the Course Kirkland Tellwright and his hard-working ground staff. Tellwright has many critics, me included, for his use of the watering can during the summer months. But credit where credit is due for not going for the easy option of cancelling Saturday’s meeting.
Saturday’s feature race wasn’t at Haydock although that track did provide one of my weekend highlights.
First Flow heads to the top
The Clarence House Chase produced a great performance from First Flow and gave trainer Kim Bailey his first Grade 1 winner since Master Oats was successful in the 1995 Gold Cup.
Strong favourite Politologue didn’t get an easy lead up front as First Flow put up to the favourite from the off. This ensured that the race was run at a good gallop. The pair traded blows like a pair of heavy weight boxers and it made for absorbing viewing.
Coming down into Swinley Bottom David Bass decided to go for home and he went a few lengths clear of the favourite. Two out it still seemed like Politologue would run the leader down. However, he couldn’t get to First Flow who kept finding for his jockey’s urging's. It was brave from both horse and jockey and the favourite was beaten by a better horse on the day.
Waiting Patiently supplemented for the race on Monday was a disappointment in third. He ran a bit flat and didn’t really finish his race off strongly either. Maybe this came too quick after his effort in the King George VI on Boxing Day. He certainly needs further than 2m 1f these days.
Before the race thought the winner and Fanion D'Estruval were fighting for the places. Fanion D'Estruval who had fallen when still going well in the Peterborough Chase on his last start ran well in fourth. This was a career best from the 6-year-old who remains progressive. He’s another who probably needs further.
Last year’s winner Defi Du Seuil had run poorly in last seasons Champion Chase and pulled up on his reappearance in Shloer Chase. At least he completed here but was well below his best again in fifth and worryingly he emptied out three from home.
First Flow has now won six on the trot and took the step up from handicap company in his stride. He goes very well right-handed but he’s also won left-handed so Cheltenham shouldn’t pose too much of problem for him. The 9-year-old now heads for the Champion Chase at the festival and he looks a decent price at 14/1 for the Champion Chase on the back of this performance.
A Star is born
Royale Pagaille was a short-priced favourite for the Peter Marsh Handicap Chase at Haydock especially after the morning defection of his nearest rival in the betting Sam Brown.
The 7-year-old had made a winning return to action in a novices’ chase at the track over 2m 5 ½ f and took advantage of a good opening handicap chase when winning at Kempton over 3m last month. The handicapper had hiked him up 16lb for that success and he was carrying top-weight of 11-10.
Favourite backers never had any real worries, as he proved far too good for his remaining seven rivals. You could have given Royale Pagaille another 10lb and I think he would still have won the race.
It wasn’t the strongest renewals of the race and his cause was clearly helped when second favourite Sam’s Adventure departed at the twelfth. He wouldn’t have beaten the winner but might have given him more of a race. Likewise, the quietly fancied Acey Milan was getting into the race when falling five out.
Where next for the winner?
Royale Pagaille is still a novice so he could go for the Festival Novices' Chase, formerly known as the RSA, or the longer National Hunt Chase. The first named race looks a non-starter as the owner has Monkfish for that race.
He’s now a best priced 12/1 with Bet365 for the Gold Cup and he looks likely to head for jump racing’s blue riband race at Cheltenham. His chance at Cheltenham could well depend on the ground though as he looks at his best with plenty of ease in the going.
Whatever his fate at the festival. A star is born that's for sure. Given his liking for Haydock he will take some beating next seasons Betfair Chase.
We have lost Market Rasen to the weather. This leaves just Plumpton for jumps fans although the Sussex track must survive an 8am inspection. There are two all-weather fixtures at Chelmsford and Kempton. Today’s selection is from Plumpton.
2:50 – You must go back to November 2018 and Fontwell’s Southern National for the last time Shanroe Santos won a race. Indeed the 12-year-old’s last good performance came when short headed at Carlisle in December 2019. The 12-year-old hasn’t pulled up any trees on three starts this season either. He’s tumbling down the weights as a result. Hopes today are pinned on the first-time visor and Bryony Frost galvanising the old boy back to form. If they do he’s handicapped to win.
Shanroe Santos – 13/2 @ Bet365.
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