Friday the 13th brought up some strange moments as the day would suggest. Runners falling like drunks in the mares’ chase and Rockpoint full on refusing to race, turning his back on the starter. Hopefully day 2 of the International Meeting isn’t as afflicted by strange occurrences as the racing quality improves and the value to be found increases.
A cracking opener on the card is a Triumph Hurdle trial over 2 mile and 1 furlong. It’s quite apt that further into the card the Triumph winner of last season makes his reappearance for his campaign out of novice company. Favourite is BOTOX HAS who has some really smart form to latch onto.
The 3 year old was last seen over this track and trip in a Triumph trial where he bumped into absolute freak Allmankind. The Skelton inmate ran freely yet was able to make every single yard. Harry Skelton shook him up turning for home and he found just enough to hold off Botox Has by 2.5 lengths. What’s more intriguing is those that were in behind that day. Repetitio came out yesterday and franked the form well winning the handicap hurdle by a neck. There’s also an interesting line of form with Nordano. Neil King’s 3 year old was 11.5 lengths behind the selection that day, whereas he finished 4 lengths behind Langer Dan at Wetherby. Langer dan is looking like the main rival to oppose Botox Has but I’m leaning towards the favourite as he has some proven course form to build upon. I don’t think there’s a freak like Allmankind hiding in this field and an RPR of 129 for the last performance puts Gary Moore’s entrant head and shoulders clear of the field.
The second race on the card is a really tricky little novices’ chase. There’s a few trainers sending one or more decent looking novice chaser and a case could be made for many of them. But the local Twiston-Davies yard are sending a couple of smart looking chasers and it should be noted that son Sam Twiston-Davies is taking the ride on GOOD BOY BOBBY.
This is a really tight little contest and picking between the lines of form becomes quite intricate. As usual for me start at the bottom of the odds and put lines through them as I found the hole in their form. Starting with Nestor Park, he has some wins in low class affairs but might be found wanting for quality on his chase debut in deeper waters. Topofthecotswolds next and although he has some form over fences he carries the penalties associated with his victories. He’s also floundered in deeper races recently and pulled up around Cheltenham on heavy last time. It might be telling that Sam Twiston-Davies hasn’t picked this runner from his Dad’s stable. Garo Du juilley has some smart form over hurdles and made an encouraging debut over fences to come 2nd to the impressive Slate House. He broke blood vessels on his most recent chase start and pulled up. He looks a shade out of his depth here too. Beakstown just needs to go down in trip for me. He doesn’t quite seem to get home over fences at 2.5+ miles. I’d like to see him drop in trip to 2 miles and pile on pressure from the front. Soft ground at Cheltenham will tax his limited stamina to the max. Champagne Platinum is the least exposed of the field and has only had 3 spins under rules. A 3 mile point to point winner he could be one to keep an eye on for a big stable on his chase debut.
This leaves us with Mister Fisher and Good Boy Bobby. The latter just seems to have slightly better form for me. Coming 2nd to Brewin’upastorm and beating Ravenhill Road both look strong form. Going up in trip will likely suit and I fancy him to bounce out and pile on pressure from the front with a solid round of jumping. He’s got to concede weight to Mister Fisher but Nicky Henderson’s 5 year old doesn’t look like he’s fulfilling the promise he showed early last season.
Again another favourite so it’s unoriginal but the form talks for itself and the market is hardening up on DESTRIER.
The 6 year old showed himself to really good effect recently coming 3rd in the grade 3 Haldon Gold Cup. It looks like smart form and it looks good to be close in behind Janika and Dolos. Both of those looked out of their depth in the Tingle Creek and were soundly beaten by Defi De Seuil. But as far as grade 3 form goes it does look alright and he’s lucky to come into this on the exact same mark of 151. He drops in grade but holds the same mark, it’s an attractive proposition and he looks the real class act in the field. It’s not ideal to be giving weight away to every single rival in the opposition but it’s simply because he is the best horse in this race and there’s nothing as talented as Jankika or Dolos lurking in here. Exeter provides a stiff stamina test and he seemed to handle it fine. He did however tend to favour his left side when jumping so a switch to a left handed track might suit him more.
Ballywood is looking the most likely leading opposition and comes in off the back of a decent 3rd behind Capeland and Diego Du Charmil. He was detached from the two but I think both of those Nicholls’ runners are really smart and the form warrants some respect. He holds the same mark and looks most likely to put it up to the Skelton runner.
A top class handicap chase next in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. Frodon and Bryony Frost partnered up to take this last year under top weight as Paul Nicholls’ young chaser dominated every race he took too on the Cotswolds last season. Unfortunately he doesn’t line up to try and win this for the 3rd time but I am quite drawn to one in CLONDAW CASTLE.
Tom George’s entrant has some smart form this season. I already mentioned Ballywood in the previous race having smart form behind Diego Du Charmil and Capeland, well Clondaw Castle was 2nd behind Diego Du Charmil at Ascot. The race that caused head scratching up and down the country as Capeland had been disqualified for “taking the wrong course” and Diego Du Charmil somehow wasn’t and held onto the race. Clondaw Castle was finishing strongly and due to the calamity caught up with Diego Du Charmil to make Harry Cobden sweat to the line. I think the form is really smart as Capeland and Diego Du Charmil went in to Ascot again recently and were a dominant 1st and 2nd.
A move up in trip looked inevitable as he’s a 3 mile point to point winner and his pedigree heavily supports him getting a 2.5 mile trip well. Ascot is a stiff track and he seemed to get the trip well there, Cheltenham is just as testing so I don’t see why he won’t put in another solid effort.
Some bookmaker’s offers are really good about of places, SkyBet for example are offering 5 places each way. So I’ve also had a strange little each way on Spiritofthegames as I think 33/1 is lunacy for a horse with some decent course form off a higher handicap mark, it’ll all make sense when he comes 15th of the 14 runners.
Head vs Heart. I’ve mentioned it before. A horse you think will win vs a horse you just love to see run. Pentland Hills represents head. ELIXIR DE NUTZ represents heart. And I’m sticking with heart.
I absolutely love this 5 year old. He was my pick for the Supreme and I’m still convinced he’d have won it laughing at Klassical Dream. He’s got such a likeable attitude and the way he goes about his races is eye-catching in an unconventional way. He makes every yard and is just an absolute bugger to get past. Horses can get to his hindquarters and he’ll find just that little bit more to pull further away again. He’s workman like, he needs scrubbing along and he doesn’t blow your eyes out your head winning by 10-15 lengths. He just works hard and does enough to see off smart rivals. He’s got a great track record and won last season’s Tolworth hurdle. He’ll try gallop these into submission and his jumping is absolutely lethal. He pings every hurdle quickly, cleanly and efficiently.
It’s a smart looking race with Pentland Hills, Chi’tibello and Call Me Lord lining up. It’s mad that this horse won 3 times on the trot last season and only went off favourite once. He was long odds for the Supreme and an injury kept him out. This is his first appearance since the injury but after an At The Races stable visit it sounded like he looked fit and raring to go.
He’s going to bounce out and make every yard. Everyone else is going to have to be at their peak to beat him and he’s an ok price for a scummy each way to hit the frame or better. It’ll be a case of catch him if you can, get past him if he’ll let you.