A great day’s racing in store, with the National Hunt ground at Newbury (heavy) and the Flat ground at Cheltenham (good to soft). Been like that for a week or two now, and the irony has not been lost on me.
As yesterday, I still find myself pining for a spot at the side of the paddock at Cheltenham, but once again, the sofa will have to do. Please send more Bacon Wheat Crunchies, I ran out yesterday. Much appreciated.
My thoughts on four of the TV races on the main piece.
4.10 Newbury – St Simon Stakes
How many of these genuinely want soft/heavy ground is open to question, and that includes the favourite, Raymond Tusk, who might be the best of these on the figures but his best form has come on quicker. The fact we’ve not seen him since January has to be a concern too, for all that this might well be a warm up for another crack at Melbourne Cup.
Alounak won’t mind conditions but that was another below-par effort at Windsor last time, and I wonder if he’s had enough for the year. If I had to have a fiver on something then it would probably be Natural History, who has plenty to find on bare form but is at least going the right way, having won his last two, and he looked a thorough stayer when scoring at Goodwood last time. That should stand him in good stead here, and he might be able to take another step forward.
2.55 Doncaster – Futurity
Not my idea of a punting medium, but for those wanting a bet then State Of Rest looks a little bit overpriced on form. I wonder whether his run here behind Chindit last month was a bit of a sighter for this, but regardless it was an excellent effort, running the two big fancies for the race as close as he did. His pedigree says a mile might stretch him, but he wasn’t stopping at the finish then, and is surely worth a try at a mile.
2.05 Cheltenham – Masterson Hurdle
This is going to be run at a fair old lick, isn’t it? Allmankind, Nordano, Botox Has and Strategem have all made all in the past, and although it’s easy enough to make cases for all four of them, I wonder whether this might not play into the hands of The Pink’n, a horse I have a lot of time for and I feel is still being underrated a bit.
He can take a bit of a hold, hence the hood, but the quicker they go up front here the better his chance of settling and finishing his race off. He did nothing wrong last time out when second to Thyme White, one of a hatful of winners for Paul Nicholls at Chepstow that weekend, and given that was his first start since March, you can reasonably expect him to come on a bit for it. The ground looks to be spot on for him, and at a double figure price, he’s worth chancing.
3.15 – Pertemps Hurdle Qualifier
If there’s an unexpected deluge before racetime then you simply can’t ignore top weight Tobefair, who knows his way around Cheltenham blindfold, and ran a career best to be sixth in the Stayers Hurdle last year. He won this last year from a 3lb lower mark, so can go well fresh, but he’s going to need more rain than is forecast to bring his stamina into play. Watch the skies is the advice.
Lock’s Corner looks a potential blot on the handicap if he stays (and his pedigree gives him every chance of doing so) and it’s interesting they are happy to race him back over hurdles after a couple of chase wins. Is there a plan? Looks like there might be, and I’ll be surprised if we’ve got to the bottom of him yet.
I’d have been a lot more interested in Flinck if Philip Hobbs’ horses were running a bit better, but there’s a 3m handicap to be won with him at some point. Neville’s Cross is bound to be well supported but it wasn’t much of a race he won (easily) at Hereford (the second home was a fully exposed 10yo) although I’ll grant you he’s at the right end of the handicap. I think the mythical fiver will have to go on Honest Vic, who has his share of weight but I think a step up to 3m this year might be just what he wants. He came there at the last to hold every chance in the Coral Cup but just couldn’t quite muster the necessary speed up the hill, and gave the impression 3m might just be the ticket. A winner first time up last year, so an absence since that effort, isn’t an issue, and the ground shouldn’t be a problem.
Today’s selection – Honest Vic 3.15 Cheltenham
Good luck with all your bets today,