(2017: 140 bets / 15 wins / +99 points)
3.15 Wetherby – Charlie Hall Chase
Bristol De Mai – 1 point win – 10/1 (PP) 8/1 (gen)
Blacklion – 1 point win – 10/1 (PP) 9/1 (gen)
Fourth Act – 1 point EW – 12/1 (gen, get 1/4 4 places) UP
Ultragold – 1 point win – 25/1 (gen) UP
Ballycross – 1 point win – 20/1, 18/1 (gen) UP
*Hmm.. well on what turned out decent enough ground, Fourth Act and Ballycross were completely taken off their feet there. Ultra ran well enough to a point but not good enough on the day. Nothing to cheer late on into that. I left the winner thinking that if proper soft, he had stamina to prove/as well as ground in handicaps (in context of single figure odds this morning)… in any case he as won that in a way that suggests I have just got him wrong. Clearly an improved horse from last year, he has demolished them there. Racing on the front end, that looked ominous a long way out. Still, +3 on the day. Onwards.
3.15 – well, let’s be clear- I would like nothing more than Gold Cup her Coneygree to demolish this lot from the front- which he may do. He has a special place in the heart, as does any GC winner you back I suppose. You can’t fail to like this horse. And then there is Cue Card – no words. He is a legend, a horse racing great. Either of those can win and I will be cheering, all misty eyed. Do not bet in this race, or bet an amount, where you wouldn’t be able to enjoy seeing either of those two warriors win. But, betting wise, they are short. They both may need the run and will certainly come on for it – they may have future targets in mind. And of course they are not getting any younger and Coneygree has had his problems. Leaving them as a betting proposition was an easy enough decision for me. I just can’t back them at their odds, but I can cheer them home nonetheless.
So, it’s then a question of what to back… I suppose I have kept it simple… the two tips and the two old boys are the only Grade 1 winners in the line up and I have gone with class. Twister also has a very good record in this race, is in form, and must surely have aimed both of these at this. He will know this is a decent opportunity to win a decent pot with these two. Fitness won’t be a problem if he wants them fit, both handle a variety of ground, and both stay well enough. All the others seem to have recent form, fitness and class questions – most are mainly handicappers and have yet to prove they could have a race like this in their locker. I was struggling to make a case for much else, but maybe this race will be a timely reminder for why I tend to stick to handicaps!
of some note… only 4 horses consistently appear in the top 3 ratings for HRB, Geegeez Speed, and Inform Speed… the two tips, plus Cue Card and Coneygree. On all known evidence of what all these have done on paper to date, these are the best four horses in the race.
PACE.. well Coneygree will attempt to make all and nothing in here will live with him for a time..and nothing will live with him if he keeps galloping. Cue Card won’t be too far away and neither will Bristol De Mai. The harder they go the better for Blacklion- the little terrier should just keep galloping.
Of the rest… well I suppose of the bigger prices Vieux Lion Rouge may be of some interest given his record fresh. I think he needs all four above to under-perform and you never know what the pipes are planning…they may well be working back from the Grand National. Maybe he will grab a place.
3.35 – Ascot
I am working on the assumption that the ground will be soft at best come race time. There is plenty of heavy rain forecast between 9am and race time. (albeit as I watch the Opening Show as of 10am it doesn’t appear to be raining!!) If it is genuinely good ground that changes the complexion completely, and increases the chances of many others in this.
Fourth Act – I suspect this has been the plan as he ran well in this race on his return last year and has consistently shaped like a stayer. The key is the ground.. his best chase form is in soft/heavy and yet he has never raced over this trip or further in that going. I am hoping the combination does the trick. He stayed on well last year suggesting he was fit enough and this could be the time of year to catch him. He has 9lb less on his back this year and a top jockey has been booked – I can’t think there are many in his class that can do this low weight. He is best going RH over fences and I expect a massive run. Baring taking a fence with him I would be disappointed if he didn’t place at worse,and pay for all bets in the race. I do want to see some rain for him but based on the run in this last year he would have a chance. Hopefully Bowen doesn’t have him too far back.
Ultragold – I couldn’t resist a go at 25/1 given he comes here having had a run and is unexposed over this trip. He has generally campaigned over shorter but in his younger days shaped like a stayer, including staying on well over 3m at Exeter in a C3 handicap chase. The way he won at Aintree suggests 3m shouldn’t be a problem- it is an unknown given he has only raced beyond 2m5f twice in his life. Soft ground hasn’t been a problem in the past but I wouldn’t want this turning into a slog for him. This is a massive pot and Tizzard is now a target trainer I think – there is every chance this has been an early season plan. He may be handicapped up to his best but it is all about the distance unlocking more. He may not stay, but I can’t say that for sure. Hence why i want a big price. I can roll the dice at 25s. He usually races prominently and his pace for shorter should see him in the right place.
Ballycross – Well I tipped/backed this one last time out and he failed to deliver. I mused after whether or not he wants softer… and, there is a chance he gets soft+ here… if no rain then he won’t be winning this as I suspect he may get taken out of his comfort zone. He needs soft to slow down the rest and allow him to keep galloping. I would be gutted if he won this at this price, in the context of my history with him, without carrying any of my money. And I need a new Twister handicap chaser to replace Cogry!! 🙂 He is unexposed enough while now reaching the stage where he needs to win a chase. But he was highly tried at times last year and this ‘could’ be his season/the year he develops fully. He did plenty on the front end the last day, getting into a duel a long way from home. I think that, combined with his lack of gears in that ground, is what cost him. But he still ran ok. He can race prominently enough and I want to see him over 3m in soft. If indeed it is soft. He could be taken off his feet early, clout a couple, and never travel. That could happen. But, again, any such considerations are always in the context of price. You can be wrong a hell of a lot at this end of the market and do just fine over time.
PACE… there is enough on paper in here. Ultragold and Ballycross should be up there/front third…no excuse. Fourth Act may be a bit further back and need some luck but hopefully he has a trouble free round.
Of the rest… well.. if this is good ground then Antony will go close… and if it was good this morning with no rain, then I would have tipped him at 10s. He has every chance of winning this again but IF it is soft, I have a real stamina question about him. I suppose it is an unknown but if this is soft I don’t think he will get home – there will be stronger stayers than him in this. That is my reading of his form to date anyway. He looks best on decent ground and I would want to see big field form on soft, over 3m+, to confirm he gets it. Were he 16s+, maybe I would have been more tortured and taken a punt. He should go well, this has clearly been the plan. If good I may take some covering fire.
IF soft… I have stamina concerns over Go Conquer and Braqueur D’Or (they are unknowns, but at single figure odds I will leave). Emerging Force would have to prove his liking for soft also, in a race like this, over 3m. I was struggling to make a case for any of the others and if they win then I wasn’t close to finding them.
GL with whatever you fancy.
V Williams (16/1 or shorter)
2.25 Ascot – Calipto
K Lee Chasers (12/1 or shorter)
12.20 Weth – Krackatoa King
Saturday Trainer/Jockey Combo (14/1 or shorter)
3.15 Weth – Village Vic
G McPherson (any odds)
2.10 Ayr – Skipthecuddles
Back at some point, likely Sat morning.
Route 66: The Road To Cheltenham
This post is worth some of your time if you are a Festival Fanatic… read/watch HERE>>>