UPDATE: well that was over before it started. A horse that likes to bowl along in front/ track pace was held up and never really put in the race. The ground didnt look good to soft that is for sure. Maybe connections thought it was too tacky and decided to save him for another day..the lack of money was an ominous sign I suppose. The winner go a good ride from the front and clearly the form of the amateurs hurdle on his penultimate start wasn’t too bad. Anyway, another point loaned back to the bookies. Always frustrating when the writing is on the wall when they are circling before the start!
Tornado In Milan ran well, no complaints. I am happy with the bet and the performance. The two market leaders failed and we just found one too good. I was hoping PM could steal a few more lengths and hopefully force errors from the chasers as they tried to accelerate. But, i have no issues with the ride and the horse tried his best, he just bumped into a better rival who returned to form. Given how far they finished ahead of the rest I would like to think he could run well off this mark again.
Kudu Country 12/1 (bet365,BV,PP WH) 1 point win
I have really deliberated over this selection. Not whether to back it – i have, but whether to advise it as a bet. Spending my own money is one thing, advising you to spend yours is quite different. 2m handicap hurdles are not my forte and there a few handicap debutantes in here who could be anything, as well as some older horses who have bits and pieces of form that would see them compete.
But…i couldnt get away from his price and in the end have taken the plunge. He is a proven class 3 handicap hurdle winner having his second start for a trainer who is in red hot form and who enjoys winning at this track. He is a prominent racer and I think it will between him and Baths Well as to who leads. Hopefully he is sent to the front and doesnt see another rival. If he is held up, like a couple of other ‘front runners’ this week, then we can probably kiss goodbye to the bet. He ran well for a long time last time out on his first run for a few months and also is a much better horse on decent ground. He is back down to his last winning mark and in all honesty is now in the care of a much better trainer of NH horses. So class, ground, handicap rating are all fine and the fact he is proven at this level is a plus. Yes he is 9 but this will only be his 15th hurdle start and I would hope Evan Williams can coax more out of him. 12/1 feels too big to me and in what is a poor day when nothing else stands out he should give us a good run for our money. You may wish to back him EW but unless 20s+ i generally try and stick to win only.
This is a poor race and naturally attention is drawn to the two handicap debutantes at the top of the market. Unless you follow a system based on the trainer, or this type of horse making their handicap debut, I am not sure how you can back them. They could be anything and I would simply be guessing as to what they will bring to the table. Jonjo is clearly in cracking form and I can see why punters would back his runner on that basis. He could have lots up his sleeve, he could just not be very good. The same applies to Baths Wells. He won an awful novice race last time but clearly knows how to win and could well have something in hand of the handicapper. Again though, I am guessing.
The rest all look a bit poor to me and have plenty to prove with the majority looking like Class 4/5 animals. Some have fitness questions, others don’t win very often or have never won a hurdle race before, and others just look out of form. On paper it isn’t a strong race and probably wont need much winning. However, based on what I have gone through, bar the two at the top of the market, I am happy to oppose everything else.
Ground is an interesting conundrum in the coming weeks. Horses that have been winning in bogs are now facing good-soft and good ground. This is something to bear in mind but if you feel like you are getting a decent price, maybe not something to obsess over too much. Often you can look at a horses form and say ‘oh this hasn’t acted on the ground’..fine, but its just as important to ask ‘has the horse proved that it doesnt handle the ground’ this is a different question all together.
Anyway, I wouldn’t say it is my most confident selection ever but I would be disappointed if we didn’t get a bold show for a long way round. I will be keeping an eye on him as I expect EW to win races with him.
Elsewhere other likely pace setters appear to be Rathlin Rose in the 3.55 She is another making her handicap debut on the back of hacking up in a couple of novice races. The Geegeez Speed rating is big compared to her rivals (provided by Dr Peter May,some of you may have read his books) and she may just have enough to fend them all off. I would struggle to advise you backing a handicap debutante (unless a system..ie back ALL of Anthony Honeyball’s hurdlers making their handicap debut, another winner today) – too many unknowns.
Eastern Witness is fascinating in the 3.45. Taking a marked step down in trip this trail blazer (if quick enough over 2m as opposed to 3m) could well see them all off from the front. I was very interested in this runner but then clicked the trainer form button on the Gold racecards to see that Venetia Williams is 0/32 in the last 2 weeks and only 4/65 in the last 30 days. Not a stable in form. I will keep an eye on him but wont be backing him. He could just be a weak finisher and I probably wouldnt want to back him in his current form anyway. I do expect them to try and make all however.
The 3.25 Doncaster looks a great veteran’s chase with chances a plenty. A few have the Grand National in mind as well. I had a small bet on Oscar Time at 9/2…I tried to have £15 on with Betfair Sportsbook…and then they restricted me, for the first time, to £11.10. (they now join Coral on my list of shi* bookies who wont lay a bet) I clearly backed one too many winners with them today! I may also have a small play on Alvarado.. he is a long distance jockey qualifier (although PM is on the watch list following a poor 12 months or so) and also always runs well after a break. (Robbie is also a long distance jock qualifier but i have yet to see any evidence that he stays 3m) He is 3/5 when returning after 121 days+. Now he isnt a profile horse as such, because he has won many times outside of this pattern, but he normally runs his race. He is being aimed at the Grand National but with the weights now out there is no reason why he wont run well. Having said that both the trainer’s and the jockey’s record at the track isnt great. I really want to see a bold run from Burton Port. I backed him in last year’s GN but am not sure how much ability now remains. I hope Jonjo has just been playing games and a bold show wouldnt surprise me.
So, plenty for me personally to get stuck into. Good luck whatever you fancy.