Good morning all,
The one good thing about Monday’s during the winter jumps campaign is that you may get a chance to see one of the real superstars of the game in action. And, we have one today, as Shishkin makes his debut over fences at Kempton this afternoon.
Inside today’s main piece. You can read my thoughts on Saturday’s Betfair Chase. Imperial Aura’s performance at Ascot and the return of Notebook at Naas. Plus, I have selection from Kempton.
Bristol shines through the gloom
There was more rain at Haydock than expected and the going went from soft to heavy during the afternoon. That change in going was the key to the outcome of this year’s Betfair Chase.
It was no exaggeration to say that the Betfair Chase is Bristol De Mai’s Gold Cup. A dual winner of the race in 2018 and 2019. Coming into Saturday, he was 4-5 at Haydock and the only time that he had been beaten at the track was 12 months earlier.
Well Bristol De Mai made it five from six at the Lancashire track and joined Kauto Star and Cue Card in winning the Betfair Chase for a third time.
Unlike last year when he made some silly mistakes. He got into a good jumping rhythm from the off, sharing the early front running duties with Bellshill. From the eighth he was allowed to stride on with Clan Des Obeaux stalking the front two in third and last year’s winner Lostintranslation in fourth.
Six out the big three began to dominate. Lostintranslation was the first to come under pressure and was soon held. Clan Des Obeaux still seemed to be breezing along and going better than the leader coming to two out. However, Bristol De Mai found more at the last and it was the grey’s stamina that won the day.
The long run in at Haydock found out Clan Des Obeaux. He’s a better horse at 3m and the extra 1 ½ f was just too much for him on this sort of ground. Meanwhile Lostintranslation managed to hold onto a distant third from Keeper Hill.
What next for the big three?
Bristol De Mai is best on a flat track so will never win a Gold Cup at Cheltenham although he would if it was run at Haydock.
I’m hoping the 9-year-old will go for the Grand National at Aintree. This season looks his best chance. Why not?
He stays well and as a prominent racer he will be suited by the race. Hopefully connections will bypass the Gold Cup and go for Aintree. There’s plenty of 40s about him for the Grand National which appeals to me.
Prior to the race Clan Des Obeaux was 0-4 on his first run of the season since going over fences but 4-4 on his second start. Trainer Paul Nicholls had said before the race that the horse had been trained differently this season and was hard fit.
He will now bid for a third King George VI on Boxing Day. He will have had a hard race here but should still make a bold bid for the hat trick.
You have to be disappointed with the performance of last year’s winner Lostintranslation. What do we make of it? Well, trainer Colin Tizzard’s horses have been needing their first runs and the horse is 0-3 on heavy ground. There’s also the possibility that the 8-year-old hasn’t fully recovered from his big effort in the Gold Cup. He wouldn't be the first horse to have left his career in that race.
There’s an Aura about Imperial
A trappy Grade 2 Chase was the feature race at Ascot on Saturday. Just the four runners but you couldn’t rule any of them out, with recent Carlisle winner Imperial Aura being sent off the 13/8 favourite.
As expected, Black Corton went out in front but he was kept honest by the favourite. He had just been headed by Imperial Aura when stumbling badly and unseating Bryony Frost at the tenth. That was the first time that the normally solid jumper had failed to complete a race during his career.
Real Steel was having his first start since switching from Willie Mullins to Paul Nicholls. He travelled nicely through the race. Coming to three out he was still in with chance but a mistake there had him on the back foot and he eventually lost second in the final 50yds. He probably needed this and should win a race or two for his new trainer this season.
Itchy Feet got outpaced three out but stayed onto grab second but never looked like he would catch the winner. His jumping needs to improve though as he made too many small mistakes here. A two-mile Grade 1 novice chase winner last season. He looks like he needs further than 2m 5f this season.
The race clearly changed complexion when Black Corton exited. Imperial Aura attacked his fences and gave a great display of jumping. He’s getting better with racing and this was the 7-year-old’s first win at Graded level.
Grade 1 winner in waiting
Imperial Aura isn’t entered the King George VI which is a bit of a shame as I think he would have a great chance in the race. He’s an exciting horse and a Grade 1 winner in waiting but It looks like his main target will be the Ryanair Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. Given he’s a festival chase winner he will be a leading fancy for the race.
One for the Notebook
Notebook, a winner of his first four starts as novice last season, including two Grade 1’s, had flopped when beaten favourite for last seasons Arkle Novices’ Chase and he had a few questions to answer after that run. The market suggested he would come on for the run as he was sent off a generous 7/2. His weakness in the betting wasn’t reflected in the race as he made a winning return to action in the Grade 2 at Naas at Saturday.
Cash Back the well backed 11/10 favourite departed at the first so it turned the race into a match between Notebook and Arkle runner-up Fakir D'oudairies who Notebook had beaten in a Grade 1 at Leopardstown on Boxing Day.
Fakir D'oudairies was readily outpointed by Notebook again. It looked he needed the run more than the winner, as his jumping was rusty at times.
Not sure what Notebook beat here with the race falling apart at the first. However, the 7-year-old is back on track and will take some beating on his next start at Leopardstown given he’s 2-2 at that venue.
Tomorrow, I will complete my look back at last week’s action, including three for the tracker. I also have some thoughts on prize money at Ascot and the new Racing League.
As I mentioned at the beginning there’s a good card at Kempton this afternoon with Shiskin the headline act in the beginners’ chase (1:25). A Mares Listed race (2:00) is the feature race of a six-race card at the Surrey track. I have had a look at two races from Kempton and here are my thoughts.
2:30 – Getareason ran well on his first start since switching to Paul Nicholls when 3rd of 7 at Sandown 15-days ago. That was his first run since a wind-op and first start for 12 months. Entitled to be fitter today and is unexposed over fences.
Locks Corner has returned from a winter break in excellent form winning twice over fences and finishing 2nd of 17 in Pertemps Hurdle Series qualifier at Cheltenham last month. Likes good ground but is 14lb higher now back over fences.
Psychedelic Rock goes well on good ground and a flat track. The 9-year-old was down the field on his first start for 495-days when 7th of 11 at Stratford last month. Yard among the winners and if he builds on his Stratford run could run into the places.
Generous Day was 9th in the Stratford race but that was his first start since a wind-op and he did win this race last year off 1lb higher. It was good to soft, 12 months ago but he’s also won on good in the past. Good chance he’s been laid out for this and can’t be dismissed off his present mark.
Mystical Clouds is another C&D winner having won in February, off 4lb lower, for previous trainer Alan King. The 7-year-old appreciates a sound surface finished 4th in the Stratford race that the two previous horses ran in. That was a highly encouraging first run for his new trainer. Should be sharper today and he’s only had four starts over fences.
Verdict: I am happy to take on the front two in the market with Mystical Clouds and Generous Day,
3:10 – Eleven go to post for this 3m Class 4 handicap hurdle. I like the claims season of the Emma Lavelle trained The Domino Effect. The 6-year-old ended last season with a good effort here when 3rd of 12 in a 2m 5f novices’ hurdle, shaping if needing further. Looked in need of the run on return here last month. Improvement expected on his handicap debut and step up to 3m.
Domino Effect – 100/30 @ Paddy Power & Betfair Sportsbook
Good luck with your Monday bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk