Inside today’s main piece you’ll find my thoughts on the weekend’s action at Punchestown. Plus. there’s a couple of horses for the tracker.
Low Sun: It's making the sport look farcical
The sun was out at Punchestown on Sunday and the racing was again blighted by the sight of obstacles being cordoned off. The sun also popped out just before the 3m handicap chase at Exeter and they couldn’t move quick enough to doll off the four fences in the
Its sad situation where you must hope that its cloudy for the big jump races. If it isn’t you can guarantee the action is likely to be spoiled by the omission of hurdles & fences.
Get All of John's Selections
When you Trial his Victor Value service
Just £7 for 14 Days
The omission of obstacles first began this side of the Irish Sea, but the trend is just as prevalent in Irish jump racing.
You don’t see it in French National Hunt racing. Granted their obstacles tend to extend across the track so its impossible to miss them out. However, there doesn’t seem to be any complaints from the jockeys regarding low sun.
Maybe the French sun is different to the British & Irish one. On a more serious note. Its depressing that we have just accepted that it’s something we must do in such situations.
Is there any data that shows that horse and rider are at an increased risk racing into a low sun?
What we do know is that the dolling off of obstacles can have a major impact on the nature of race. Its dispiriting for punters. You’ve backed a horse who you think is the best jumper in the race. Only to find that come the time of the race half of the fences have been removed and your selections edge has disappeared. You begin to wonder if there’s any point to jump racing if they aren’t going to jump any obstacles.
Due to the unseasonable going at Punchestown over the weekend meant we didn’t get the quality of racing that I had hoped.
Kilcruit, a bit of a disappointment over hurdles last season made a winning chase debut on Saturday. A bit novicey over the early fences but his jumping improved as the race went on. He won as a 1/5 shot should and will face stiffer tasks as the season progress. Still, this was a nice enough introduction to chasing.
Willie Mullins will have been delighted with State Man’s win in Sunday’s Grade 1 Morgiana Hurdle at Punchestown. A well backed 4/9 favourite it was a case of job done by the 5-year-old. Taking it up two out he produced a nice change of gear to go clear of his three rivals. Too early to say he’s the next Hurricane Fly but he’s certainly a serious Champion Hurdle contender
Apart from State Man win in the Morgiana Hurdle there were several other notable performances.
Delta Work had to be brave on seasonal return to prevail in the Banks race that opened the Sunday’s card. Last season’s Cheltenham Cross Country winner and Grand National third is firmly on track for both those races again.
Useful flat performer Nusret made a winning hurdle debut for Joseph O’Brien. He travelled powerfully through the race and ran out a comfortable winner of the juvenile hurdle. A better jump at the last and he would have won by further than 6 lengths. His jumping will be tested in better races, but he looks a nice prospect.
Shewearsitwell bounced back to form to win the Pertemps Qualifier. The step up to 3m really suited the mare and she’s likely to be aimed at the final in March.
I was expecting to have plenty for the tracker after the weekend’s action but wasn’t to be the case.
Ascot Eyecatcher: Revels Hill – Harry Fry
Given Revels Hill needs 3m+. His 3 ½ length 2nd of 13 to Your Darling in Friday’s 2m 5f handicap chase was meritorious. The 7-year-old had ended last season with two wins at Taunton. He looks a young handicap chaser on the up and can be competitive in better staying chases this season.
Today’s second tracker horse ran at Haydock on Saturday.
There could be more to come from Fontaine Collonges after her win in the Betfair Exchange Handicap Chase. She’s a staying chaser going the right way and should stay further than 3m 1f.
The fourth Good Boy Bobby ran better than he had done on his Ascot reappearance. He’s probably been aimed at the Rowland Meyrick Handicap at Wetherby on Boxing Day. It’s a race he won last year, and he will be nicely treated for a repeat bid.
Musical Slave in good form over fences at the end of last season, has no great record fresh and made a decent return in fifth. He should be sharper next time.
Haydock Eyecatcher: No Cruise Yet – Sam England
Those who know me, know that I don’t like putting up horses that won last time as an eyecatcher. However, I’m starting to change my opinion. Sam England looks to have a nice handicap chaser on her hands in No Cruise Yet. Nicely progressive over fences at the end of last season. The 7-year-old made it 5-14 over fences with a taking success in Saturday’s 3m 4f handicap chase. A solid jumper of a fence, albeit he tended to jump a bit to his right here, he had to dig deep on the run in to hold off Poppa Poutine by a head. The first two pulled clear of the rest and the form looks solid.
No Cruise Yet is getting better all the time, is at the right end of the handicap and there are more races to be won with him. The Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen on Boxing Day would seem a good target and further down the line he could well progress to be an Eider Chase contender.
Pretty poor day’s racing and today’s selection isn't anything exciting.
Fiston Du Mou bounced back to winning ways and put in a career best when running out an 8 length winner over C&D (soft) 19-days ago. This marathon trip clearly suited the 7-year-old and although he’s 9lb higher he can go in again.
12:55 – Fiston Du Mou – 9/4 @ Bet365.
Good luck with your Tuesday bets.