BIG RACE PREVIEW
Le Reve – 1 point win 11/1 (bet365/Bf/BV)
Houblon Des Obeaux – 1 point win 14/1 (BF), 12/1 general
I have gone for two ‘been there and done it’ horses who, on past exploits, will be fit enough here and who should give us a run for our money. Double figure odds seems a bit too big for the pair.
Le Reve is arguably still unexposed and open to improvement as a chaser. Having his 14th chase start and only 7 he could well build on his brilliant season last year. He rounded of his campaign with a brilliant run at Sandown. Ground is no problem, he jumps, he stays and his trainer could not be in better form. Indeed if he was trained by a bigger name I think he would be shorter. He ticks a lot of boxes and if he runs his race will be bang there.
Houblon Des Obeaux – well this is his time of year and he is very good fresh – 2/3, 3 places chasing on his reappearance to date. He is also 2/5, 4 places at the track. He is top weight for a reason and I can’t get that mighty run in the Hennessy last year out of my mind. A repeat of that weight carrying performance will see him right in the mix. The one niggle is that the ground could be softer for him but I think there is some juice there and the price allows the chance. He is a horse to follow up to Christmas. (4/9. 6 places Oct-Dec / 0/12, 2 places Jan-April)
What A Warrior is a main danger and he will go close. He could get an uncontested lead and his trainer, much like his old boss, is turning into a brilliant target trainer – and brilliant trainer non stop. He will be spot on for this and will go close. I did wonder as to the depth of quality in this race last year and this feels a stronger renewal. 8s is fair, but as slightly bigger prices I went with the other two. If he was 12s or something then maybe.
Ned Stark is fascinating and I fancied him at Cheltenham where he ran no sort of race. He is unexposed and in the ‘could be anything’ category. But, in this big field, and at this tricky course, I wanted some more proven horses on my side. His jumping could be a tad better and I am not sure as to whether this is the target, or a prep run. Still, an exciting horse and it is hard to totally rule him out.
Virak is another of interest. Nicholls is 0/14, 6 places in the race and he will have to be spot on here. His one run here was a bit disappointing but he entitled to improve again this season and could be thereabouts. I am no sure as to how strong the form of that Haydock win was either and his jumping has been iffy at times. But, only 6 and trained by Nicholls you could not say he cant win this.
I don’t fancy any of the rest. A mixture of plenty to prove and stamina questions were enough for me to leave the others alone. Fox Appeal is interesting but has still to prove he truly stays a trip over fences, his jumping can be scratchy and he has yet to win a handicap chase from a few goes. Present View has stamina to prove and I don’t like stamina niggles in races such as this, albeit a double fig price may allow that chance. Pendra clearly has ability but just too many questions for one so fragile. He is lightly raced and could go in here, but for now I want to see more on the track.
So, two hardy types who should relish all race conditions. They are usually sound jumpers, both should be fit, and are a decent price. Hopefully they are fighting out the finish!
The Charlie Hall chase is a cracker but not one I could be overly dogmatic about. At the prices I though Many Clouds and Hollywell looked interesting. The former will not be 100% for this according to his trainer, although he may not need to be – and I hope he becomes the first horse in 97 races or something to win a race again after a Grand National Triumph. I hope he wins this but that is more heart than head at the moment. Hollywell could step up this year and ran well in the Gold Cup. That form entitles him to be thereabouts in this race and he could out run his odds. It would be brilliant to see Cue Card bounce back as well. Really, there are plenty of horses in here I would be happy to cheer home for one reason or another (inc Menorah) and I am happy to sit and watch.
3.40 Weth – Relic Rock – Ellison is 4/19, 9 places with his handicap chasers and this horse comes here having ran well on his reappearance. 10/3 was fair enough here. He has a short priced Nicholls horse to beat, who is unexposed and a could be anything type. The master trainer has won this race a couple of times with a similar profile of horse but he is priced up as such. Relic Rock looks quite a tough and consistent horse and he should be thereabouts.
4.10 Weth – Medicine Hat 6/1 – G M Moore is 4/16 with his handicap hurdlers here and this horse is unexposed. He won really well on the flat LTO and could have a bit in hand. He stays and is fit, and looks interesting. Jonjo has one in here – and he is a man to follow in handicap hurdles at the track- and i hope I havent picked the wrong one – but, he has an awful long lay off to overcome in soft ground and that was just enough to put me off – as was an apparent lack of market support. He was also really poor LTO and it may be best to see something on the track again before following, we shall see.
NTD (16/1 or shorter)
2.00 Weth- Splash of Ginge
3.25 Asc – Ned Stark (9/1 or below)
4.35 Wolv – Cahill (9/1 or below)
3.25 Asc – No Buts (14/1 or under)