I hope you all had a better weekend on the punting front than me. That said we saw some good performances, particularly at Punchestown on Sunday.
Firstly, Dysart Dynamo’s powerful performance in winning yesterday’s Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle. Making all he ran his rivals into the ground for a commanding success. Trainer Willie Mullins has a nice problem to have. Does the winner go for the Supreme or the Ballymore at Cheltenham?
I can’t imagine Constitution Hill, Jonbon, Sir Gerhard and Dysart Dynamo will turn up for the first race at this year’s Festival. However, it would be some race if they did.
Later, on the Punchestown card Bob Olinger made it 2-2 over fences when landing the Grade 3 Kildare Novice Chase and hardly broke sweat in doing so. The omission of a few fences due to low sun spoilt the race a little as a jumping spectacle. Still there's no getting away from the fact that last season top novice hurdler is a high-class novice chaser. The Turners Novices' Chase for which Bob Olinger is a best priced even money looks his for the taking. His rivals will be hoping the Cheltenham fences may catch him out.
Both Warwick & Kempton had to survive morning inspections to see if racing could take place. In the latter’s case three due to fog. Thankfully they went ahead and we saw some good racing.
Despite the injection of Coral’s sponsorship, the Grade 2 Silviniaco Conti Chase saw just four runners meet the starter. The race provided a good finish with the strong travelling Mister Fisher relishing the small field scenario and producing an excellent jump at the last to see off Eldorado Allan. The winners form figures in field sizes: eight or less are now 11211121. That’s six of his seven career wins. He’s probably not a Grade 1 horse but at Grade 2 level in a small field he’s always going to be competitive.
The race saw another disappointing performance from Defi Du Seuil. Despite only been a 9-year-old his best days look now well behind him. I wonder if connections will try him over hurdles again to see if that sparks him back to life?
Kempton’s big betting race was the Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle. Coral’s enhanced prize money meant a big field of 19 went to post for what looked a competitive race. It turned out to be less competitive than expected with few getting into the race from the rear.
In a race where you needed to be up with the pace. It was one such runner, and one of the more unexposed hurdlers in the field Cobblers Dream who ran out a comfortable 5 ½ length winner.
There was drama at the start of the race with Ch'tibello falling at the second bringing down joint favourite Green Book and badly hampering the other joint favourite Marie’s Rock in the process. Without those incidents I still think Cobblers Dream would likely have won.
It was Warwick’s most valuable meeting of the season on Saturday. It was a gloomy old day but we saw a good winner of the Classic Chase. I had my doubts about Éclair Surf’s jumping around here. However, he got into a good jumping rhythm out in front and made only one real mistake. It looked like 7/2 favourite Gericault Roque might give the winner a race coming to two out but his effort flattened out coming to the last.
Éclair Surf had threatened to win a decent pot if he got his jumping right which he did on Saturday. Those jumping frailties didn’t materialise, as I had feared, and he could go well in a race like Scottish Grand National provided there is plenty of give underfoot.
Some 35 minutes earlier Archie Watson better known for his flat training exploits saddled Stag Horn to win the Grade 2 Ballymore Leamington Novices' Hurdle. A useful stayer on the flat, a winner twice over 2m 2f at Pontefract. Stag Horn was able to dictate a slow pace but he still travelled and jumped nicely. He’s now 2-2 over hurdles and will need to improve again to be a Grade 1 hurdler in the spring but its not impossible he can. Given how well he stays on the flat. The Albert Bartlett would seem a better option for the 5-year-old than the Ballymore.
Chepstow, Punchestown and Fakenham provide the jumps action on Monday. Plus, there’s an all-weather teatime card at Wolverhampton. Although both Chepstow and Fakenham face precautionary morning inspections to see if racing can go ahead.
The most valuable race on the Chepstow card the Join The Vickers.Bet Club Novices' Limited Handicap Chase (2:00) has attracted just four runners. That said they all have some sort of chance. Last time out winners Frenchy Du Large and Eden De Houx will have their supporters. However, preference is for Farne. The mare ran well on her chase debut when a 9 ¼ length 3rd of 8 to The Glancing Queen in listed mares’ novice chase at Warwick last month. Twice a winner last season over hurdles, including here, she's open to further progress over fences.
2:00 – Farne
Good luck with your Monday bets.