well that was not a pleasant afternoon spent infront of Channel 4 Racing! I am not one for reflecting on the past for too long, both in racing and on life in general, but it is worth seeing what we can learn for the future and whether there is anything I would do differently next time. Before briefly looking at the runs of today’s runners it is worth pointing out that I only gave 5 points back to the bookies today and that when selecting horses in the 4/1-12/1-20/1 range you will pick many more losers than winners!
American Life – he ran another really good race, finding only one too good again! I thought for a moment turning in that he would grind out a win but in truth the winner had lots in hand. looking back at his form he was entitled to win like this but he was very disappointing LTO. This was clearly his true showing and as we shall see turned out to be a brilliant day for Evan Williams (who, as his treble at Taunton demonstrated, is a trainer to follow at this course!). Still, when your selections run well and are competitive I dont mind losing. Sadly for me, this was to prove the highlight of the day! looking ahead, American Life keeps creeping up the handicap, but if he can find a race where every opponent is exposed, surely a win is just around the corner!!
Citizenship – well what can you say. The trainer sounded quietly optimistic and the whole syndicate was there to watch. Sadly he finished last and I really thought he would be in the top 3. Although unproven at the distance that is not what beat him. The fact he was so far tailed off means he either was not good enough and/or he hated the ground. To my eye they didnt go screaming off in front. Anyway, we got one wring there and that will maybe teach me from straying away from 3m+ races, which is where I have most joy.
Big Fella Thanks – Again, not a great run and was never competitive. Actually, as it turned out (and I believe against historical stats but I would need to check) the majority of winners came from those leading or running close to the pace. maybe the ground had an effect on this as horses had to expend too much energy trying to catch those in front who never came back to the pack. He was weighted to win and it was his time of year. The one doubt i had was about the time he had been off the track and in future, if i ever back him again, it will be when he returns within 30 days of his last run. Maybe the other lesson is to be careful of horses who you know have a target later in the season – clearly he will be aimed at one of the races over the National Fences in April and it is never good trying to second guess the trainer. Maybe the fact that Paddy Brennan was not on board was the signal I needed not to get involved. Hindsight is a wonderful thing!
Night Alliance/Chance Du Roy
Firstly this race was won gamely by Wychwoods Brook who returned at 16/1 but I believe was available at 25s- another winner on the day for E. Williams. This race has thrown up big priced winners in the past and so it proved again. Quite simply, I would never have backed this horse, and wouldn’t given the chance again! He had run 3 times over fences and his win LTO was in a class 4 handicap chase at Lingfield over 20f. Yes he won by 10 lengths, clearly enjoys heavy ground and was entitled to improve. But this was a Class 1, Grade 2 race and i am sure that backing horses with similar profiles in the future will only lead to the poor house. Of course it underlines why horse racing is such a tough sport to crack, but that is why we keep coming back for the challenge! He clattered a few fences as well and maybe demonstrates how bad the ground was as to my eye – every other horse seemed to under perform. Now, looking back at the runners it could be argued there were serious questions to answer for all of the main contenders and as such it was possible the race would set up for an outsider – but that is hindsight! The two I put up had rises in the handicap to contend with. However, I thought at least Chance Du Roy would cope. Maybe the 16lb difference, compared to his last race,was too much for Night Alliance. He seemed to tire pretty quickly. Chance Du Roy was just disappointing and it was clear after 2f he was never going to get in contention. He has rarely put too good runs together in the past and it proved so again. Maybe if I analysed the race again I would have backed something different, but I am sure the winner wouldn’t have been one of them!
so all round, a poor race and a poor day. The eye catcher again was Merry King. He appears to get out paced and then stays on strongly. He is a thorough stayer who surely has a big race in him. he will be interesting at Cheltenham if he turns up in one of the big handicaps. I can see him staying up the hill past tiring rivals! Only time will tell.
So, not a great day, but onto tomorrow!