What a weekend of racing we had, Lostintranslation has laid down his challenge to the King George and Gold Cup as he won the first leg of the jump’s triple crown. Cyrname dethroned the unbeaten Altior in the clash at Ascot and he now has his ticket to Kempton on Boxing Day. I don’t envy Harry Cobden in having to choose between Clan Des Obeaux and Cyrname but it might give us a telling clue as to which one the stable fancy more on the day.
The season is taking shape and today we have 3 selections from Kempton and Ludlow to kick start the week.
Starting the day with the opening race on the card at Kempton, a 2 mile novices’ hurdle and the competitive race has an interesting runner in NAMIB DANCER.
Emma Lavelle’s 5 year old made his hurdle debut at Wincanton 29 days ago and looked to be winning his race until a final flight blunder curbed his momentum. He had cruised to the front on the bridle and looked to be extending his lead when he showed himself as a novice and clattered the final hurdle. It was amazing he didn’t come down as he made a real mess of it but he looked to be absolutely flying before the mistake. With race conditions looking very similar to his last run it would look very likely that he can gain compensation for that last mistake. He did look very green at a few of his jumps but with some experience on his side and some rigorous schooling at home he’ll come on and hopefully put in a solid round of jumping.
Main competition starts with Book Of Invasions who’s already a hurdles winner. The 4 year old won his debut over timber after some very good bumper form so shoulders a penalty for his success. As good as the win was 13 days ago Namib Dancer looks to have a really good turn of foot and the weight difference will make life hard for Book Of Invasions. Other main runner of interest is Golden Taipan, another hurdle winner he carries a double penalty for his exploits but wasn’t disgraced in a class 1 event behind Pacify on his last run.
With the main looking competition carrying penalties for their wins I’m taking Namib Dancer to shed his maiden tag at the second time of asking.
Moving over to Ludlow for the other 2 runners today and HURRICANE HARVEY went straight into my tracker after his eye-catching run last time out. The 5 year old absolutely flew home at Huntingdon and he too showed his signs of greenness. It took him a while to get organised under Paddy Brennan but you could see the penny dropped during the run in and he was motoring home to close to within half a length of the eventual winner. It’s a really encouraging debut to build on and with Fergal O’Brien’s yard still flying I fancy him to continue the rich vein of form.
The race today is a 2 mile 5 furlong novices’ hurdle and is an extra 2 furlongs compared to the race that Hurricane Harvey was 2nd in on debut. With the rattle that he finished with after being held up this slight up in distance will definitely suit his stamina and running style. An extra 50 yards at Huntingdon and he might have actually gotten up despite hanging to his right on the run in. Going right handed again will likely suit him and hopefully that debut has eliminated his tendency to just hang slightly under pressure. If he gets organised from when Paddy Brennan starts to ask him for his efforts he’s going to be hard to hold off as he rattles home. The only slight concern is his switch to soft ground as it’s a bit of an unknown quantity to factor in but he has run well on good to soft before.
The selection gets preference over Hometown Boy for the Stuart Edmunds yard and his impressive debut over timber at Warwick. He chased home 2 decent looking benchmarks but he stayed on at the same pace in the closing stages of the race and didn’t show the same late enthusiasm as Hurricane Harvey.
It’ll probably be close in the final stages but I fancy the favourite to have the stamina to put this race to bed.
Rounding out today with the next race on Ludlow’s card and a 2 mile class 3 handicap chase. I’m finding it hard to ignore top weight and favourite HATCHER for the Skelton yard.
The 6 year old was last seen running in a class 1 listed chase and wasn’t disgraced in 5th of 12. The race ended in calamity as Diego Du Charmil and Capeland were carried by a loose horse and ended up trying to squeeze between the fence and the wing. It ended in the latter of the 2 being disqualified but luckily he made amends on Saturday. Hatcher ran well off a mark of 138 to be 5th and this drop in class after being trimmed 3lbs makes him really interesting. He’s a gutsy front runner so might simply gallop and jump inferior opposition into the ground despite the weight difference. He’s back down to his last winning mark and conditions look to his liking. The yard clearly thought highly of him to be putting him into a class 1 chase on his seasonal return so it wouldn’t surprise me to see a large margin win here. Off this mark on his last 2 wins he went in by a combined 30 lengths so clearly has talent in abundance.
Main competition is like Court Royale but the underfoot conditions won’t be to his liking today despite a good course and distance 2nd recently. A further 2lb rise for that placed effort and the wrong underfoot conditions were enough to put me off and my main concern switches too Red Mix trying to contest the lead and making life difficult for Hatcher. If he is pressed for the lead I’m confident Harry Skelton will make the right decision as to whether to try and press on or give up his soft lead to then pass the rival when he gets tired. It’s an open race but class at the top of the weights should tell as the Skelton’s notch up another winner.