Good morning all,
It was great to see the jumps return to Cheltenham and Aintree over the weekend. In Cheltenham’s case it was the first event since March. However, in Aintree’s you had go back to last December for its last race meeting.
Saturday also saw the last Group 1 of the British Flat season with the Vertem Futurity which was run on heavy ground and produced a battling winner.
Inside today’s main piece you can read my reflections on the weekend’s action. Plus, I have a fancy from this evening's meeting at Newcastle.
From a personal perspective it was good weekend of punting. Wins by Captain Tom Cat, Mac Swiney, advised 18/1 on Saturday morning, and an Aintree double yesterday courtesy of Minellacelebration and Acey Milan (8/1 advised) made up for some slim pickings of late.
Bolger lands Futurity with Mac Swiney
Race favourite Wembley was a late defection from the Futurity on account of the heavy ground and his non participation did take away a bit of gloss from the race.
Without Wembley in the race the Godolphin owned One Ruler, a decisive winner of the Group 3 Autumn Stakes on his previous start, was sent off the 6/4 favourite. He ran a good race in finishing second but found one too strong in Mac Swiney.
The winner a rare runner these days for Irish trainer Jim Bolger. Had found the 7f of the Group 1 National Stakes, on good ground too quick on his previous start. He was one of the first off the bridle here but found plenty for his jockey’s urgings and handled the ground better than his rivals. There was plenty to like about his attitude in such attritional conditions.
Third home was the Roger Varian trained Baradar. Supplemented earlier in the week and 2 wins from 2 runs on soft coming into the race. The colt travelled best of all and hit the front a furlong out but was just outstayed by a stronger stayer on the day.
The winner is a good horse. He’s bred to better as a 3-year-old and for stepping up to middle distances.
Next years Derby winner? Well I think he’s a good chance with the attitude he showed on Saturday and more improvement to come. William Hill weren’t as impressed by his win as me, as they still have him at 25/1 for the Epsom Classic.
Cheltenham’s first fixture of the season began on Friday on good ground but by the time of the final two races on Saturday it had turned soft. There were two outstanding performances over the two days.
Rouge Vif storms clear of rivals
The 2m handicap chase in Friday looked a competitive one on paper but it was turned into a one-horse race by Rouge Vif. The 6-year-old had last been seen in action, finishing a well beaten third on soft ground in the Arkle at the Festival. He was much better on a sounder surface here. Taking the lead four out he strode clear of his 12 rivals to win by 7 ½ lengths at the line.
Given his official rating was 156 coming in to the race he will probably be up to 165 after this impressive win. Handicaps are now out of the question and given how well he jumped surely connections will be dreaming of next March and the Champion Chase.
Favourite Beat The Judge came into the race looking for a hat trick after wins at Newton Abbot and Fontwell. He ran well to finish third but had no chance with the winner. He seems at his best on a sound surface so connections will no doubt be hoping for some dry weather over the coming weeks.
On The Slopes a winner of his last two starts at Kempton in Feb/March. He probably needed the run here and finished fifth. A mark of 143 looks workable and there will be other days for the 6-year-old in the coming months.
Frodon just loves Cheltenham. The 8-year-old gained his sixth win at the track when landing the 3m 1f handicap chase on Saturday. Carrying top-weight on his seasonal reappearance looked a tough ask. However, he was the class horse of the race and was dropping in grade here from the Ryanair Chase when last seen in action.
Out in front from the off, he jumped magnificently and coming to the last was clear of his rivals. A lack of run told on the run in as he was being closed down by the eventual runner-up West Approach.
West Approach was going as well as the winner coming to two out but he was out jumped at the last and never looked like he would overhaul Frodon on the run in.
The first two home finished well clear of the three horses who managed to complete. One who failed to finish was Cogry. The 2017 race winner was never really travelling and was pulled up. After the race it was announced that 11-year-old would be retired from racing.
It was a great performance from the bold jumping winner and 3m+ does look his trip these days. After the race trainer Paul Nicholls told the media that Frodon would be aimed at the Gold Cup. Given his liking for the track and jumping you wouldn’t rule out a big run in jump racings ‘blue riband’ race.
I will continue my look back at the weekend’s action in tomorrow’s column, with some eyecatchers.
Plenty of racing today. There’s a lot of runners, as you would expect at this time of year on a moderate looking Redcar card. Leicester has two Class 2 races which have attracted just eight runners between them.
Over the Irish Sea there is a Grade 2 Chase at Wexford. There are only four runners but they do include RSA runner-up Minella Indo and Kim Muir winner Milan Native. The latter has the benefit of a recent run when winning at Galway 19-days ago.
Arguably the most exciting runner on the day is Andy Dufresne. The 6-year-old won a Grade 2 novice hurdle at Punchestown in January and makes debut over fences in the 3:50.
5:00 – Manassas cost 1,000,000gns as a yearling. Trained by Kevin Ryan, the Dubawi colt, a half-brother to Without Parole a winner on his juvenile debut at the track, has his first run today and I’m sure connections will be disappointed if it isn’t a winning one.
5:30 – Half of Outrage’s eight career wins have come over C&D. The last of which came in January 2019, off 10lb. Since that success he’s become a very frustrating character, as he showed when blowing the start at Yarmouth, losing at least five lengths, before running onto finish on the heels of the leaders in 5th. A return to this venue could see a big run from the gelding, provided he gets off on level terms. Given his profile 5/1 looks short on value to me although I think he can win.
5:00 – Manassas – 9/2 @ Bet365.
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