There was something for everyone over the weekend. We had Grade 1’s at Sandown and Fairyhouse and plenty of competitive handicap chases to get stuck into.
Over the next couple of days, I will be looking at the weekend’ best performances. Inside today’s main piece it’s a look at events at Sandown and Aintree.
Weekend Review – Part 1
What a superb weekend of jumps racing with the quality coming thick and fast on Saturday. It was nightmare on the punting front for me though as a I flushed 9pts down the toilet.
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It’s always frustrating when you have written almost 3,000 words on a day’s preview. Given a favourable mention to most of the winners and then proceeded to go for the wrong ones as selections. I like to give readers as thorough an analysis of the big races as time allows and don’t fail in that regard. Of course, there always weekend’s when everything falls right and I tend to have more of them over a season.
Despite a poor day on the putting front. I didn’t end the day as deflated as I might have, due to the great racing that was on offer.
There were two big performances at Sandown on Saturday.
Jonbon was quickly sent to the front in the Grade 1 Henry VIII Novices' Chase with his nearest market rival Boothill in his slipstream. The latter came to challenge the leader two out. However, it was then that Jonbon changed gear, a good leap at the last and he powered clear on the run in.
Both the winner and runner-up jumped well but Boothill had no answer to Jonbon’s pace. I thought it was a terrific performance by the winner. I’m not quite on the Jonbon hype train. However, there’s no doubting he enjoys jumping fences and it will take a very good one to beat him.
Edwardstone Express is firmly on track
As I expected Andrew Copper produced the good to soft ground that enabled Shishkinand Edwardstone to run in the Tingle Creek Chase.
Gentleman De Mee took the field along at a strong pace but was headed four out by Greanateen. Held up at the back Edwardstone made headway to challenge the leader three out. Taking it up after two out he powered up the hill to beat Greanateen by 9 lengths.
Shishkin who looked fit and ready for his first start of the season. Just didn’t jump well enough, was being ridden along three out and only managed to hold of Gentleman De Mee for third. This performance makes you think that maybe his win against Energumene last season took more out of him than we thought. He will be stepped up in trip after this performance. However, you wonder if even a top trainer like Nicky Henderson can bring him back to his best. He did it with Sprinter Sacre and he faces a similar challenge with Shishkin.
I suspect Greanateen’s connections would have preferred Andrew Cooper not to water as much as he did. That said he was beaten fair and square by a much better horse.
Take nothing away from the Edwardstone though he was electric. I had doubted his Arkle win and underestimated him. However, having seen Brave Seasca comfortably win under top weight at Aintree 15 minutes earlier. I had a feeling I would have some egg on my face and so it proved. He’ll need to improve to beat Energumene but he may well do so.
I thought the Grade 2 Many Clouds Chase would be one of the most competitive races of the day. It didn’t turn out to be as close as I thought. However, we did see a very good winner in Noble Yeats. Last year’s Grand National hero was given a confident ride and he produced a powerful surge between the final two fences and went clear on the run in. Its not often you see a staying chaser produce a final burst like he did. In the process he made a couple of high class chasers Dashel Drasher and Ahoy Senor look ordinary.
I thought runner-up Dashel Drasher ran up to his best but couldn’t match the winners pace when it mattered. He can win races especially when he encounters much softer ground.
Ahoy Senor so disappointing in the Charlie Hall on his reappearance travelled much better here. Two out I thought he was going to win at Aintree again, but he was another who couldn’t live with the winners burst of speed. Once again, his jumping just wasn’t up good enough. It’s hard to see him making up into a serious Gold Cup contender.
Sounds Russian wasn’t disgraced on his step into graded company. He got outpaced two out but stayed on to finish 4 ½ lengths back in fourth. He stays further than 3m 1f so there should be other days for the 7-year-old.
Noble Yeats might be a Grand National winner but he’s only a seven year-old and only his second season over his fences. He’s got to be trained for the Gold Cup after this impressive success. Granted we don’t know whether Cheltenham will suit him but if it does, he’s a definite contender for the jump racing’s blue riband race.
Facile Hurdle Success
Its not often you see a big field novice hurdle won so comfortably as Facile Vega did to his field at Fairyhouse on Saturday.
The Champion Bumper winner jumped and travelled supremely well and never came off the bridle when making all to beat 15 rivals.
Ok, he likely beat some real plodders, but it was visually impressive and for a novice his hurdling was almost perfect.
He’s now unbeaten on his five career starts and you can see why he’s 5/4 for the Supreme Novices Hurdle. I much prefer his 5/4 to Jonbon’s 7/4 for the Arkle that’s for sure.
Some poor fare on Monday. The best and I use that word very liberally is at Musselburgh.
2:10 – It takes a leap of faith to back Nietzsche after a poor run at Cheltenham back over hurdles last time. However, he did win on the flat at Catterick in September. Formerly a very useful hurdler/chaser he’s dropped down the handicap to a good mark if on a going day.
2:40 – Coolbane Boy is just 2lb higher than when winning over C&D in January. If he can reproduce that performance on similar going today, he looks the one to beat for the inform Sandy Thomson yard.
3:10 – Seemingly So, a winner over C&D in February and Market Rasen in May, from 2lb lower, isn’t the most consistent of handicap chasers and needs to bounce from a poor run over hurdles at Kelso last month. He comes with plenty of risks attached but on the plus side trainer Laura Morgan is 6-10 + 25.43 with her chasers at Musselburgh in the past 5-years.
If you fancy any of these three, I wouldn't put you off.
Stat of the Day
Ryan Mania (Coolbane Boy) is 9 winners from 34 runners 26% +42.25 15 placed 44% with his rides at around 3m (Musselburgh).
2:40 – Coolbane Boy – 5/1 @Bet365.
Good luck with your Monday bets.