TV TIPS (SATURDAY)
Starting off todays, jumps filled, TV action with an eight runner contest at Ascot.
A novices handicap chase is the order of the day here and it’s very easy to be swayed by several of the runners in this.
I’m going to have to narrow them down and the first horse to be cut is Venetia Williams’s The Clock Leary. The horse is decent but with the expected good ground expected it just isn’t soft enough to see it at its best.
I also have a preference for novices having a run already under there belt to make sure they have trained on and strip fitter so that also eliminates Cocktails At Dawn, Strollawaynow and Generous Ransom.
Robin Dickin’s Garrahalish won on its seasonal reappearance and shouldn’t be put off by conditions as it has won on anything from good to firm up to heavy going and if it can step up in class is going to be a lively danger.
Of the remaining three horses I’m siding with the top weight Monkey Kingdom. I am obviously concerned by the burden of weight it has to carry but with Rebecca Curtis in fine form over the past fortnight and with the ever reliable Tom Scudamore on board I can’t see past it.
My selection however was much more of a process of elimination as Keltus seems very inconsistent and The Bear Trap has never been ridden by Richie McLernon.
Monkey Kingdom (WIN)
Making our way over to Wetherby for our second live race of the day and I am going to side with a horse who also owns my selection in the previous race at Ascot.
Carl Hinchy owns the course and distance winning Aurore D’Estruval. A horse that clearly handles course conditions having picked up a win here previously and the booking of AP is clearly a huge boost to its chances.
Trainer John Quinn has had a pretty decent flat season and if he can transfer that form to his jumpers he should be able to pick up a win here.
Of the other runners I think that Bonne Fee, despite picking up eight top two places out of ten races has probably done its best running over the summer and now that the “proper” jumpers are starting to line up is probably going to find a few too good.
Donald McCain and Jason Maguire are in good form so far but I worry about the test that Wetherby will bring to the table and how well the horse will handle it.
The undoubted dark horse in the race is Last Supper with one win from one race to its name it could literally be anything and if it shows even more potential could trouble my selection.
Aurore D’Estruval (WIN)
On our return to Ascot they haven’t made it any easier with yet another very open handicap.
Another race that really needs to be narrowed down but with all of these horses a mixture of potential and solid form it’s hard to know just where any of them are at this early stage to the season.
We see the long awaited return of Rebecca Curtis’s seven year old One Term who has had over a year away from the race course. It’s last run was when it beat The Cockney Mackem which now reads very well but just how much it has after such a lengthy layoff I just couldn’t say and I’m not willing to take a chance on it.
Claret Cloak is a horse that always seemed to promise a lot but has always run below par when at the top table. A drop in class will surely help but its seasonal reappearance left a lot to be desired.
Bellenos is a horse I quite like and with course and distance winning form to its name it has to be there or thereabouts. My only concern however is the inconsistency of the yard and although it has a very good chance the stables horses are becoming increasingly hard to judge at the moment and may need a run.
I am however going to side with another course and distance winner who comes from a yard who is flying. One of the oldest horses in the race Alan King’s Manyriverstocross should be in good shape. The horse runs very well fresh and has beaten Claret Cloak previously. If the horse still retains its ability it will have a fantastic chance of winning first time out just as it did last year.
Manyriverstocross (E/W if 5/1+)
14:30 Down Royal
We make an impromptu trip across the sea to Down Royal so we can take in their Grade 1 chase. Some well known stars of last year have entries in this and it certainly gives us a glimpse as to what we have to look forward to this National Hunt season.
It would be a fairytale story if Tammy’s Hill was to claim the prize after winning The Foxhunters at The Cheltenham Festival last year but it is going to need a huge step up to take on the much classier opposition it will face today and alas I feel it may just be a step too far.
The powerhouse Willie Mullins stable are already flying with a thirty three percent strike rate with their runners in the past fortnight. He saddles two runners here in the shape of Boston Bob and On His Own. The latter finished second in last years Cheltenham Gold Cup but may seem somewhat inconsistent as it then went on to finish a disappointing eighth of nine at Punchestown the following month.
Boston Bob on the other hand won that race at Punchestown after also winning at Aintree. Ruby Walsh clearly prefers the nine year old out of the two of them and who am I to bet against Ruby’s judgement.
The most likely danger has to come from another powerhouse of Irish jumps racing in the form of the owners Gigginstown. First Leuitenant ran well behind Boston Bob in its last race and may finish closer today.
Boston Bob (WIN)
What a very disappointing renewal to this years Bet365 Hurdle (Formerly “The West Yorkshire Hurdle”) as only three horses line up. With a few more runners I would have said that Medinas would’ve had a decent shout for place money but how any one can look past At Fishers Cross in such a weak renewal is beyond me. The horse did pretty well in last years World Hurdle and also went on to place at both Aintree and Punchestown.
It is by far the stand out horse in the race and although I doubt the price will have any value whatsoever it is the only idea of the winner.
At Fishers Cross (WIN)
Ascot certainly isn’t making it easy for us today with yet another tricky handicap to decipher.
Another where cases can be made for the majority of the field and at this early stage of the season it makes it even more trickier. Nevertheless I will endeavour to try and find something to bring in some pennies.
Going through the card and with over a stone in weight more than its nearest rival the Jonjo O’Neil runner Get Me Out Of Here surely has too much to do in this and has to be discounted.
Baradari is yet another Venetia Williams horse that wants the ground to be as wet as a swimming pool and without its preferred ground here is another to take out of the reckoning.
Laser Blazer is one that has a chance based on trainer form but I fear that the three wins it has racked up is against much lesser competition than this and shouldn’t really be able to compete in this class without a significant step up.
The two horses that I think have a decent chance hail from big trainers with Nicky Henderson’s Sign Of A Victory and Philip Hobbs’ Mountain King. Coming from such stables they both have to be respected but with a course and distance victory to its name and from a yard that has a 33% strike rate the past fortnight I have to go with Mountain King.
Of the remaining runners both Charlie Mann and Suzy Smith’s yards are doing pretty well and have decent strike rates themselves. Ted Spread ran a respectable race in The Cesarewitch and will be fitter than most of these for its flat exploits and may be worth a bit of each way value.
Mountain King (E/W if 5/1+)
Ted Spread (E/W)
The marquee race of the day has to be The Charlie Hall chase as seven line up. The race is a mix of Gold Cup and big race festival runners alike.
The class horse of the race is undoubtedly Silviniaco Conti, a horse that has always promised to win a Cheltenham Gold Cup but has never quite delivered. The horse has won this race previously but I’m going to be brave and bet against it here today. Paul Nicholls’s yard are yet to really hit their stride and I think there’s enough in the way of competition to look for more value.
I feel that Menorah has a chance but that’s if it wasn’t carrying the same weight as Silviniaco Conti and I think that will be too much for the nine year old.
I also fear that age is catching up with the likes of both Medermit and Wayward Prince. Horses that have had some bold showings in their day but are likely to find others too strong.
The Giant Bolster never seems to run a bad race and is a horse I have nothing but respect for but is another that is probably not classy enough to win a race of this magnitude.
I’m now left with two, both of which Double Ross and Taquin Du Seuil have good claims. I have to side with the form book though and as Jonjo Oneill’s horse has beaten Double Ross previously I am siding with the seven year old.
AP McCoy thinks quite a bit of this horse and after a good solid year last year has age and potential on its side. It will have to take a step up but with question marks over the favourite it seems worth backing.
Taquin Du Seuil (WIN)
We end the day as we started it and there seems to be no wider a contest than the last of the televised races.
With only fifteen runners declared we are only getting three places so this becomes extra tough.
I’m going to plump for two selections in this, the first of which is Emma Lavelle’s Le Bec. The horse was scheduled to run the other week in a trappy contest at Cheltenham where it was favourite for success that day. I’d argue that this race is a tougher one to crack than its earlier appointment but clearly the horse is well regarded and should have a chance if the few whispers ring true.
My second selection is sticking with my theory of going with trainers in form and as mentioned earlier Philip Hobbs is doing really well at the moment. He takes Roalco De Farges into battle and with a win in the race that Le Bec was scheduled to run in it has to be respected. It should hopefully come on again for that run and strip fitter than most of its competitors.
Of the remainder there are three that I would see as the most likely dangers. Gevrey Chambertain has to be respected coming from the David Pipe stables and already picking up a win this term, Merry King rarely runs a bad race and has been in much better races than this and finally Black Thunder may have a squeak if it decides to put its best foot forward.
Le Bec (E/W if 5/1+)
Roalco De Farges (E/W)
by Rory Paddock