The mighty O’Tool posted minutes after myself – I was unaware o didn’t notify you dear readers – and while not on fire, I think it safe to say that we are both pretty well in tune – maybe even on song.
The records speak for themselves:
12.15 TRINCOMALEE 16/1 3rd
12:45 KHAGE Lost THE FLYING SOFA 4th 11/2
13:20 FAUSTINOVICK 3rd 4/1 BREWERS PROJECT 4th 9/1
13:50 SAN BENEDETO 4th 14/1 SPIRITOFTHEGAMES LOST OLD GRANGEWOOD WON 6/1
14:25 CHAMP WON DERYAN DE CARJAC LOST
15:00 THISTLECRACK 2nd
15:35 CAPTAIN TOMMY LOST CHAMPERS ON ICE WON 10/1
1:50 OLDGRANGEWOOD WON – GALA BALL LOST – SPIRITOFTHEGAMES LOST
2:25 BLACK OP 2nd
3:00 PAISLEY PARK WON – DBL with CHAMP WON
3:35 BLACK BUBLE LOST – CHAMPERS ON ICE WON
I’m in something of a rush tonight as I am heading off to Lambourn for the annual Christmas WineTasting and then tomorrow head off early to the course for a small piece of sushi and a pickled walnut and some very decent racing. So crack on….
12:05 NEWBURY Ladbrokes “Where The Nation Plays” Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed Race) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m½f
This is surely between FLORESSA and SILVER FOREVER. The two met over C&D LTO at Worcester where FLORESSA went down thanks in part to a sloppy last fence jump. She is now 3lbs better off for the short-head defeat and that should be enough to gain compensation. If I had to pick a horse to come third, I might be tempted to have a look at VALSE AU TAILLONS from Johny Farrelly, who won easily (18l) at Stratford LTO in a C4, and whilst this is a far tougher class, race and company, she looked progressive and afterwards it was reported that the mare lost both her front shoes. A tiny ew/ punt for luck.
12:40 NEWBURY Ladbrokes John Francome Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m7½f
RESERVE TANK should win this and, indeed, if his owners are to be believed, he might turn out to be one of the greats. Impressive hurdle victories at the Aintree and Punchestown festivals, he finished second on his chase debut before landing a Grade Two at Warwick with ease. I’m tempted to suggest you don’t bother backing him here but consider an ante-post punt now for the JLT at around 12/1 A big victory here and he’ll be shorter.
1:15 NEWBURY Sir Peter O’Sullevan Memorial Handicap Chase Cl2 (4yo+ 0-145) 2m6½f
Philip Hobbs’ WESTEND STORY certainly has more improvement to come and his mark of 134 seems lenient. However, I have a feeling for JERRYSBACK who had all sorts of traffic problems LTO in the NH Chase at the Festival and finished very tired and some distance behind. The drop back in trip is an obvious advantage and he’s been placed in all three of his G2 races to date.
1:50 NEWBURY Get Your Ladbrokes £1 Free Bet Today Handicap Hurdle Cl2 (4yo+ 0-150) 2m4½f
PRIDE OF LECALE had some decent bumper form last season and then went nowhere slowly. However, a wind operation seems to have helped to find the blue touch paper, and his handicap debut seemed a huge improvement. I suspect he might still have a very lenient mark and is a decent e/w chance. NORDIC COMBINED from the Pipe/Scudamore combo would not be a surprise
2:05 NEWCASTLE Betfair Fighting Fifth Hurdle (Grade 1) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m
Oh Please… If you can see anything to beat BUVEUR D’AIR… and it does, then you can write this!
2:25 NEWBURY Ladbrokes “Where The Nation Plays” Intermediate Hurdle (A Limited Handicap) (Listed Race) Cl1 (4yo+ 0-155) 2m½f
Nicky Henderson runs ELUSIVE BELLE, who was second to Reserve Tank (see the 12:40) at Sandown in February, and her current mark of 134 seems way low. ELVIS MAIL has some cracking form, a G2 at Kelso catching the eye when he split Windsor Avenue and Getaway Trump (both winners since), in March. He’ll handle the ground. All that aside, one of my confidential sources approached me in Lambourn tonight and informed me that SCARLET DRAGON was strongly fancied by Kingy. He’s up 9lbs, he’s had a wind-op and I’m confused. All three in a combo forecast is where I might go.
3:00 NEWBURY Ladbrokes Trophy Chase (Handicap) (Grade 3) Cl1 (4yo+) 3m2f
There are only two horses for me and they are ELEGANT ESCAPE and CABARET QUEEN. The latter was an emphatic winner of The Munster National, winning by 13 lengths. It was a truly impressive run, (romp would be a better word or even rout), and she just got into an astonishingly grinding rhythm and she has been punished with a massive 20lb rise – which as far as I can see, from Timeform, Raceform and Market makers, no one thinks is enough to shackle her progress. Elegant Escape has been fitted with blinkers, to bring about some small, if needed, improvement. He was a 10l 2nd in this last year and is now 5lb higher, but that is hardly surprising given his second in the Charlie Hall at Wetherby earlier this month. Plenty to like about him. Venetia Williams COMMODORE is the wrong price and looks good for a place.
3:20 NEWCASTLE Betfair Rehearsal Handicap Chase (Listed Race) Cl1 (4yo+) 2m7½f
JONNIESOFA should win off a decent pace from the front.
3:40 NEWBURY Ladbrokes Handicap Chase (For The Jim Joel Memorial Trophy) Cl2 (4yo+ 0-150) 2m½f
I’m told Philip Hobbs rates NO COMMENT, or maybe I misheard and was told No Comment. One day THEO will come good… today? WHATSWRONGWITHYOU started his chasing career well winning two of his first three chases. The spring Festivals only helped to lower his mark to something more manageable today, and 9/1 looks a backable price.