Solid Strike – 1.5 pt win – 6/1 UP
Katenko – 1/2 point win – 8/1 (gen) PU
Well, the PU for Katenko no surprise and sad to see him do that again. Surely he has well and truly gone at the game now. Solid Strike..well the hope was that his less exposed profile, up against a load that may not run their race/get competitive, would be enough. Alas, I don’t think he was good enough, no excuses. He was struggling to lay up as they turned for home. May be a C5 animal under rules, we shall see. The win for Shocking Times as no shock, he looked interesting as per notes below and never a problem when one of danger horses wins, shame he wasn’t 7s this morning, as I may have had more of a headache. On we go.
This looks an interesting race to liven up the afternoon. I do like a Veteran’s Chase and i’m sticking with my ‘Festival eyes’ – looking at the more unexposed end (well,ignoring my pokes in the Ultima! and two in the Pertemps!…let’s move on..) / ‘what has an interesting profile’ – without doubt Solid Strike is the most fascinating horse in this race by quite some way. He is making his handicap chase debut under rules, having been a prolific Point to Point winner (4/13) and having run well on the Hunter Chase card at Cheltenham back in April 2016. He just has a touch of the ‘could be anythings’ about him under rules, and he comes here in decent form. He ran well enough in a C4 novice chase the last day over an inadequate trip at an even speedier chase track than Haydock. Stepped up 4f or so that should make the world of difference. He did split two horses rated 137 and 139 the last day, beat 4l by one rated 122. He was staying on again at the line and you have to admire how he jumped under Ross Chapman – and he jumped well at speed up the straight, when under the pump. I have no idea if he is ‘well handicapped’ but I am not a traditional punter in that sense- i’m not sure I really considered handicap marks in much depth at all at the Festival, a few factors that influence me far more than then odd pound or two- namely ‘profile’ of horse, and whether in today’s conditions there ‘could’ be more to come- and do I like the price. Given his unexposed profile, certainly against this bunch, I thought he could easily be put in at a shorter price here, 9/2, 4/1. So, i’ll have a nibble. Hopefully Ross can track any pace and he can pop away, pulling away from the last. It may transpire he is a few pounds too high, but i’m guessing at best and i’ll wait for the rules evidence. The trainer is 5/13,8p with his chasers under rules- all thanks to Dica. He clearly knows when to bring one from the Pointing/Hunter field and maybe this one can replicate his stablemate’s rules record.
Katenko – i’d be a tad annoyed if this one hacks up (not impossible) at 8/1 against this lot, with no money on, so best take some covering fire. Clearly with his profile you cannot be too confident but back in the day he was very very smart. He has clearly had problems. His mark is plummeting and IF Venetia could ever find the key again, he is more than capable of winning a race like this. Given his profile I would be shocked if he wasn’t a1 here, as fit as they can get him. The booking of Aidan Coleman would suggest as much. His old partner. I do keep wondering why oh why they still persevere with him and don’t retire him. He must still show something at home, and he has only had 12 runs under rules. Venetia is also in the best form she has been in for a while and hopefully that rubs off on him. In any case, I was happy to throw 1/2 a point at him to find out. It would warm the heart if he could win. More likely to be a PU though!
Of the rest…
Well I was more than comfortable taking on the rest here and this is 2 points I can live with loaning back if I have read this wrong. Shocking Times deserves to take his place at the head of the market, ignoring that UR before the race developed, he arrives here in form and is well handicapped on old form! (handicapping does play some role with older/exposed horses clearly- it’s just my eyes are often drawn to unexposed ‘could be anything’ types and until I see evidence, I don’t like to cast too many aspersions as to their rating etc) His price felt about right, not over generous. I may have that wrong, we shall see. He is 11 also, and if possible I do like trying to find a 10 year old to side with in these sorts of races.
Until Winning is in some sort of form at least, but there is a stamina question at this trip/in this ground- although only slight, he did win over 2m6f at Market R, and wasn’t exactly stopping- it could be this is what he wants as he gets older. Still, not one who I thought was a bigger price than they should be – as always, value is in the eye of the beholder and I get it wrong often enough!
I was more than content to leave the others for one reason or another. Whiskey Chaser needs the headgear change to work, which it might, but he seems to have gone off the boil a bit and his price didn’t seem overly generous. On recent efforts he should be a bigger price than the two just mentioned. If Spookydooky returned to any sort of form he would take this also – he arrives a bit out of sorts and given how he ran in that Exeter race in 2017, that was a poor effort when last seen. I don’t really like backing Jonjo horses at single figure odds if I can help it!
So, i suppose I have it between those 4, and surprise surprise I have gone for the two at biggest odds, and one of whom is very unexposed under rules, and just looks fascinating in this line up.
(jumps angles to be reviewed at end of main season)
Trainer/jockey combo – Live Test
3.15 Hayd – Just Georgie (12/1<)
4.20 Hayd – Swing Hard (12/1<)