Good morning all,
Cloth Cap & Impact Factor did the business for me at Newbury and Fairyhouse respectably. The first time cheekpieces really worked on Cloth Cap who jumped better than he has ever done when making all to win the Ladbroke Trophy.
Ok, the race didn’t contain a Denman or a Bobs Worth but Cloth Cap got a great ride from Tom Scudamore. I’m glad I kept the faith in the 8-year-old who always had a decent handicap chase pot in him when he got decent ground.
Meanwhile across the Irish Sea Impact Factor defied 576-day absence to win the big handicap chase at Fairyhouse. He got into a great jumping rhythm from the off and showed he was on a winnable mark for his handicap chase debut.
More on the Ladbroke Trophy and also Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante'd return to action inside the main piece. Plus, I have a selection from Ayr.
Hat’s off to Jonjo
As I mentioned in last week’s race preview, Cloth Cap sneaked into the race with a lovely racing weight of 10-00. Racing in the first-time cheekpieces and with a change of tactics. Tom Scudamore sent the 8-year-old to the front from the off. He jumped superbly well and loved the sound surface. In truth he never looked like would be caught. Turning what looked a competitive, albeit not vintage, renewal of the Ladbroke Trophy into a procession winning by ten lengths from Aye Right.
It was a third win in the race for owner Trevor Hemmings and Cloth Cap will now bid to emulate the owners Many Clouds and do the Ladbroke Trophy (Hennessey)/Grand National double. On a sound surface who would say he can’t. Especially if jumps as boldly as he did on Saturday.
It was great to see Jonjo O’Neill back in the big time with a big staying handicap chase winner. It’s been a few lean years for the trainer but he seems to have turned a corner this season.
How the rest fared
Aye Right was always in good position tracking the leader. He ran a cracker for Harriett Graham and gave jockey Callum Bewley a good spin. He just couldn’t cope with the winner on this sort of ground. There’s a decent staying handicap chase in the improving 7-year-old.
The Conditional was last seen winning the UIltima Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival. The 8-year-old looked to have it all do off an 8lb higher mark but ran a career best on RPR’s. His prep for the race hadn't been ideal and trainer David Bridgwater has hardly been banging in winners of late either. Jumping was a bit sticky in the early part of the race but he ran a good race to finish third.
The ground had gone against The Hollow Ginge and Beware The Bear but both stayed on to get into the money.
Kildisart (8/1) was well backed and could have been expected to finish close to The Conditional on their Cheltenham running but he disappointed in 7th.
I’ve still to be convinced that Black Op stays 3m 2f and he finished a well beaten 9th.
Secret Investor & Vinndication were sent off the 15/2 joint favourites. The former’s jumping wasn’t good enough and he probably failed to stay. Vinndication was vying for second with Aye Right when unseating his rider at the 17th. It was too early to say where he would have finished but I doubt he would have beaten the well handicapped winner.
Not sure what’s happened to Copperhead. He was pulled up very early in the race as if something was amiss. That’s now three none completions for the 6-year-old. Let’s hope whatever issue he’s got can be sorted out.
Epatante makes winning return..
Champion Hurdle heroine Epatante did what was needed to win the Grade 1 Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle. However, she did it in style. Travelling sweetly behind the leader Sceau Royal. She breezed past him after the last and produced a good turn of foot to win.
This performance will have delighted trainer Nicky Henderson. It’s hard to see the geldings beating her at level weights never mind receiving the 7lb mares’ allowance.
A very visually impressive return to action and given she’s only had seven starts over hurdles, we may not have seen the best of her yet and that’s a scary thought for her Champion Hurdle rivals.
As does Honeysuckle
Honeysuckle last seen in action winning the Mares Hurdle at Cheltenham, also made a winning return to action at the weekend. Her win in Sunday’s Grade 1 Hatton's Grace Hurdle means she’s a perfect 9 from 9 over hurdles. On ratings she was entitled to win but it was her first run since March and this will tee her up nicely for the rest of the season.
Will she go down the Mares' Hurdle route again or will Henry De Bromhead let her take her chance in the Champion Hurdle? She’s doesn’t jump as fluently as Epatante but she’s got a great will to win that’s’ for sure.
More on the weekend's big performances tomorrow.
Not the easiest of days punting wise. My initial selection at Ayr is now a non-runner. However, I still have a couple of fancies running at the Scottish track this afternoon.
3:10 – Doyen Breed came in for good market support, sent off the 11/4 favourite, on his first since joining Sandy Thomson. The 5-year-old ran well to finish 2nd of 11. Nicely clear of the third at the finish. Nudged up 4lb for that effort but showed enough to think he’s on a winnable mark.
2:40 – I’m taking on recent Newcastle winner Epsom Des Mottes with one at a big price in Newberry New. The 8-year-old hardly beat a rival on his six starts last season and pulled up on his last two runs. A wash out season means he’s dropped down to a tempting handicap mark, now 13lb below his last winning mark. Sean Bowen is an interesting jockey booking and four of the gelding's five wins have come on heavy. First run since March, so fitness and well-being must be taken on trust but at around 16/1 you can take a chance.
2:40 – Newberry New – 16/1 @ Coral & Ladbrokes (both paying 4 places).
Good luck with Monday’s bets.
John Burke is the tipster behind the long standing Victor Value service you can join him here – https://victorvalue.uk