You could have been forgiven for thinking it was a “bumpers for jumpers” card at Chepstow yesterday. All the hurdles in the straight were omitted in the first race due to low sun. Then all five fences in the home straight were missed out in the first chase race of the day.
It doesn’t fully explain the woeful performance by my selection Farne but I don’t think it would have helped either. I suppose it’s a feature of the times we will live in. As I don’t remember fences being omitted on such regular basis in the past.
The quality of racing does get better as the week progresses. The Shishkin v Energumene clash in Saturday’s Clarence House Chase at Ascot is one step closer. With both horses left in the race at Monday confirmation stage. Then we have the little matter of Lingfield’s Winter Festival which takes place on Friday & Sunday.
Inside today’s main piece its “Tracker Time”. Plus, I have a selection from this afternoon’s jumps at Newcastle. First though a few words on Lingfield’s Winter Festival.
Winter Million Festival
Lingfield’s Winter Festival initiative with over £1 million in prize money hasn’t found universal approval in the sport. Certainly, for those looking ahead for some juicy ante post weekend picks it’s a bit of a nightmare with so many horses being doubly declared for the weekend’s big races. Despite that minor quibble. I think an initiative like at this at this point in the calendar is to be welcomed.
The going at Lingfield is currently heavy but a mainly dry week is forecast so hopefully we won’t see any chance of an abandonment of either the Friday or Sunday cards. The ITV cameras will be covering four races from Lingfield, alongside four from Market Rasen on Friday. The broadcaster will also be covering five races from the Winter Festival on Sunday.
The signs are we should see to competitive action. Looking at the declarations for the Friday card. There should be some decent sized fields with all bar one of the races seeing double figure numbers.
Let’s hope the festival proves to be a big success and a permanent fixture in the jumps calendar.
Achille didn’t do eyecatcher followers any favours in Saturday’s Classic Chase. It was one of the 12-year-old’s poorest runs in a long time. I suspect this was a big race too many for him after hard races in the Becher and Welsh Grand National in the last six weeks.
There are three for the tracker this week. One ran in the North Yorkshire Grand National at Catterick last Wednesday. Whilst the other two ran in Saturday’s Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle at Kempton.
Who’s In the Box – Nick Kent
Who’s In The Box had been below his best on his first three starts this season. However, he was well backed before the North Yorkshire Grand National before being returned the 16/5 favourite. The market anticipated a much better run and they got it. As the 8-year-old finished a 4 ¾ length 3rd of 8 to Supreme Escape. The winner of last season’s Lincolnshire National, off 3lb lower, is on a competitive mark and softer ground will suit him even better than Wednesday’s good to soft going.
Lanzarote Handicap Hurdle
It paid to keep up with the pace in Kempton’s Lanzarote Hurdle so horses who were held up or in midfield can probably have their efforts marked up. Two that caught my eye in the race were Call Me Lord and Dans Le Vent.
Call Me Lord – Nicky Henderson
Call Me Lord returned to hurdling after a two below form efforts over fences this season when a 7-length 3rd of 19 to Cobblers Dream in Saturday’s race, The 9-year-old, twice a Grade 2 winner over hurdles, made steady headway coming to two out but had to be switched to get a clear run. Running on well after the last he grabbed third on the line. This was a much better effort from him and better run race will see him to better effect. He’s dropped down to a good mark over the smaller obstacles and can win a race before the season is out. Given he’s gone well at Cheltenham in the past maybe connections will aim at him at race like the Coral Cup.
Dans Le Vent – Evan Williams
Dans Le Vent a winner of a Grade 3 Handicap Hurdle at Haydock in November came from even further back than Call Me Lord and was left with two much to do. That said he finished just ½ length behind Call Me Lord in 5th. Not unsurprisingly for a winner over 3m he was doing his best work at the finish. A mark of 142 remains workable and a more strongly run race and a return to further than Saturday’s 2m 5f distance can pay dividends for the 9-year-old
There are jumps cards at Newcastle and Exeter and all-weather fixture at Southwell today. Most of the horses that interest me have been well found by the bookies. So don’t expect any left field selections from me today.
I haven’t had to many bets at Southwell since the track switched to the tapeta surface but my results so far are 2 winners from 5 runners 3 placed. It won’t last but it’s an encouraging enough start with the winners being returned at 4/1 & 10/1. And its to the Nottinghamshire track that I head for Tuesday's selection.
4:20 – Bert Kibbler showed plenty of speed when winning over C&D 17-days ago. He’s a progressive all-weather handicap sprinter and although he’s up 5lb for that latest success he’s going the right way and can go likely go in again.
Good luck with your Tuesday bets.