Good morning all,
We have a rare midweek treat this week with the Goffs Thyestes Handicap Chase and Grade 2 Galmoy Hurdle at Gowran Park on Thursday.
We have already lost today’s Kelso meeting to the weather and there are doubts about Down Royal racing which could leave us with just all-weather action at Southwell and Wolverhampton.
Inside today’s main piece. I’m looking at the form of the Colin Tizzard yard, he retirement of David Mullins and the ongoing Irish doping scandal. Plus, I complete my Saturday round-up with a look at Drashel Dasher’s win at Ascot and I have two for the tracker. Oh, and there’s a selection from Wolverhampton.
I doubt there is a yard as out of form as that of Colin Tizzard’s. You have to go back to December 22nd for the yard’s last winner. That’s 36-days and 44 runners since a Tizzard horse entered the winner’s enclosure. At first, I wondered whether the yard had been hit with a virus. Now, I’m beginning to think there is more of a human factor involved.
The loss of Colin’s daughter Kim Gingell last May to cancer looks to have left a big hole in the smooth running of the operation. A few years back Colin Tizzard had described his daughter “as the brains of the operation”and that remark now seems to have plenty of truth about it.
Last week jockey David Mullins announced his retirement from the saddle at the age of just 24. Mullins looked to have the racing world at his feet when winning the 2016 Grand National on the Rule The World as a 19-year-old. He also rode Al Boum Photo to victory in the 2018 Ryanair Gold Cup at Fairyhouse and Faugheen in the Champion Stayers Hurdle at Punchestown.
I liked him as a jockey and certainly wasn’t disappointed to see him on one I fancied. Indeed I saw him as the heir apparent to Ruby Walsh at the Willie Mullins yard. Sadly, that will never now come to pass.
Being joint second jockey at uncle Willie Mullins yard meant he was dependent on either stable jockey Paul Townend getting injured or picking the wrong one when the yard had multiple entries in a big race. Waiting for a rare juicy plum to arrive can be frustrating.
Some serious injuries haven’t helped his career but it’s clear from the interview’s he gave last week that his enthusiasm for race riding had clearly gone. It seems like it was the right decision.
Viking Hoard affair rumbles on
I mentioned briefly last week the six-month ban imposed on trainer Charles Byrnes for the running of Viking Hoard. We have since found out that only Leopardstown among Irish racecourses has CCTV in saddling boxes. In 2021 this seems amateurish at best and downright negligent at worst.
It’s now clear a third party injected the horse to enable money to be made on the exchanges. I doubt it was the trainer himself. It looks far to amateurish and there are much easier ways to stop a horse.
It was only last month that Jim Bolger told the Irish Times that “drugs are Irish racing’s number one problem”. On that occasion Bolger was talking about the use of performance enhancing drugs. However, it’s not too great a leap to think that the reverse is also happening.
Having had a look at the IHRB report on the Viking Hoard affair. I was struck by the following quote:
“This case illustrates the specific and additional challenges and dangers to the integrity of racing posed by the widespread ability to back horses to lose races for significant returns. The desirability of this practice or how it might be better controlled within the available regulatory resources is worthy of further, constant review.”
The ramifications of the sport’s inability to regulate itself will have major consequences for horse racing both in Ireland and in the UK. I doubt the sport has the will to do it. So, it seems outside regulation will be forced on it sooner rather than later.
Back to events on the track.
I can’t not mention the heroic performance and ride Matt Griffiths gave Dashel Drasher at Ascot on Saturday.
Setting a ferocious pace from the off on Dashel Drasher. Matt Grifiths had most of his rivals out of their comfort zone early in the race. Coming to the last you wondered if the long-time leader was feeling the exertions of the strong pace he has set and it looked like Bennys King might cash in. The brave front runner was having none of it. A good jump at the last sealed the race for him and he was always holding the eventual runner-up on the run in.
The winner is now 3-3 at Ascot but the way he jumped left-handed for most of the race suggests there could be more improvement to come from the 8-year-old when goes that way around.
This looks strong handicap chase form and the winner looks capable of making up into at least Grade 2 performer on the back of this performance.
Jerry's an Eyecatcher
Very few got into the race from the rear. One that that did catch the eye was Jerrysback. The Philip Hobbs trained 9-year-old was having his first run for 399-days and ran on into a never nearer third. Clearly, he hasn’t been the easiest to keep sound but he looks on a winnable mark and is one to note when returned to further.
Two for the tracker
Besides Jerrysback the other two to catch my eye last week were:
Paddys Motorbike – Sam Thomas
Well backed before the race Paddys Motorbike looked on a decent mark for his return to handicap hurdle company. He attempted to make all but wasn't able to get an uncontested lead. Those earlier exertions eventually took their toll on the 9-year-old who weakened two out to and finished fifth. He can win again when getting an easier time out in front.
Reivers Lad – Nicky Richards
Reivers Lad was having his first run since winning on his chase debut at Newcastle 772-days ago. Clearly the 10-year-old hasn’t been the easiest to keep sound, as that Newcastle win came off a 614-day layoff. He was in the process of running a good race when falling five out at Haydock on Saturday. This was the veteran's first start in handicap chase company and if non the worse for this mishap, figures on a good mark.
Monday’s selection Shanroe Santos was a non-runner and its slim pickings today. Kelso is off and Down Royal where I did fancy one must pass an early morning inspection. That leaves just Wolverhampton and Southwell.
3:10 – Ron Harris saddles a couple of lively contenders here in Elzaam's Dream & I’m Watching You. Adam Kirby has been booked for the ride for the latter who also gets the first-time hood. He was too keen when 5th of 12 over C&D 56-days ago so the hood looks a good move. The 4-year-old remains a maiden after seven starts but has shown enough ability to think he can win a race.
3:50 – Askann hasn’t finished out of the first three on all four starts this season. Last time the mare put in a career best effort when 3rd of 20 at Leopardstown 28-days ago. She was doing her best work at the finish over 2m 5f that day and should be even better suited by the step back up to 3m. A winner over hurdles (3m) at the track last season she can go close here.
3:10 – I’m Watching You – 8/1 @ Coral & Ladbrokes (both paying 4 places).
Good luck with your Tuesday bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk