Matt Tombs / Monday 14th January 2013 / 11:15
Having been forced by running plans into taking the plunge on Rocky Creek at 25/1 for the RSA, it was great to see him demolish Highland Lodge at Warwick, (extended 3m, soft.) He’d been kept to a decent surface under rules so it was good to see him handle this softer ground. He’s a good jumper who gets quickly away from his fences and travels well which will be crucial attributes in the RSA. He’s not a quickener but stays really well and 14/1 looks generous. The vibes from the Nicholls yard about this horse are strong and if Boston Bob doesn’t come up to scratch we might get the bonus of Ruby riding.
Champion Hurdle runner up Overturn made it 2 from 2 over fences on Wednesday at Doncaster, beating the promising Conquisto by 25l, (2m3f, good to soft.) His jumping was a mixture of exuberant and fiddly but he looks the type who’ll come up if asked. He’s 6/1 for the Arkle and whilst he doesn’t have Simonsig’s sexy profile, if he wasn’t 9, I suspect he’d be stronger in the market. Interestingly, connections were concerned about him staying the trip and the risk of him being diverted to the Jewson looks to be fading.
155 rated hurdler Attaglance, winner of the Martin Pipe at last year’s Festival, started adrift of Overturn and Conquisto and never got into the race, despite jumping the first few reasonably. It’s hard to imagine he didn’t have the pace to go with them and having got stuck in the mud at Carlisle and then not seeming to get the trip at Doncaster, on the face of it this was another disappointing effort. He was allowed to get into the bottom of his fences and run down one or two and the fact that Harry Haynes was looking over his shoulder after only a mile was telling. It may be that he’s not taking to fences but it’ll be interesting to see what his handicap mark is. On his chase form it should be about 125-130. He could be interesting in the 2½m novice’s handicap chase on the opening day of the Festival if he doesn’t get a mark over the 140 ceiling.
After a blip in the mud at Newbury, My Tent Or Yours got the show back on the road when routing a decent field at Huntingdon on the bridle, (extended 2m, soft.) He looks to have plenty of pace, jumps well and is probably the leading British candidate for the Supreme. He’s a warm favourite (9/2) for the Betfair Hurdle and could go down the Darlan route of taking that en route to the Festival. He hasn’t found anything off the bridle yet but nor had Darlan or Simonsig this time last year and Nicky Henderson often has novice hurdlers with that sort of profile – the jury’s out. He’s 14/1 for the Supreme but with owner JP McManus having just purchased hot favourite Jezki, there has to be a concern he’ll get diverted to the Neptune (20/1) or County, or wait for Aintree.
Champion Bumper 6th The New One was an impressive winner of the Grade 2 novice hurdle at Warwick, (2m5f, soft.) It was easy to pick holes in his previous form and his jumping had been a real cause for concern, but the way he powered clear on the long run to 2 out here oozed class. He’d looked more of a stayer previously but based on this the Neptune looks the right option (6/1) rather than the Albert Bartlett (10/1.) There was nothing good enough on the ground to give him a race and Nigel Twiston-Davies’ plan to give him another run for experience looks the right call as his jumping, though improving, is still novicey and could catch him out in a fast run race.
Up And Go is an unexposed sort, having just his 3rd run under rules when beating Many Clouds (who gave 10lb) 7l at Wetherby, (2m4f, soft.) The runner up had bustled up Gevrey Chambertin at Aintree so this looks smart form. Up And Go is 16/1 for the Albert Bartlett but he didn’t look like he wanted a step up in trip here, (nor when travelling well before taking a tired looking fall in the straight at Sandown behind Taquin Du Seuil.) He’s 25/1 for the Neptune but will need to improve in the interm and might be more of a long term prospect.
A more likely type for the Albert Bartlett is Cloudy Copper who made it 2 from 2 over hurdles when beating 146 rated chaser Hold on Julio (who received 6lb) an easy 2¾l at Kempton, (extended 3m, soft). He’d previously turned over a 1/3 Paul Nicholls horse (who hasn’t run since) and is really unexposed. He jumps and travels but still looked a bit green here. Given Jonjo O’Neill said it took him a long time to get over his previous race, it may not be feasible to get more experience into him before Cheltenham. It’ll be interesting to see if they keep it low profile this season for this former point winner with chasing in mind, but he’d be interesting if lining up. He’s 14/1 and is one where the vibes nearer the time need watching.
The Lanzarote isn’t the race it was and whilst there have been some decent winners recently, it’s a long time since it threw up a star. That might change as the lightly raced 8 year old Oscara Dara bolted up off 140, despite stumbling and almost coming to a standstill after the last, (2m5f, soft.) This was only his 7th run and it will be interesting to see what connections do now, as he’ll get a fair hike for this so would face a tough task in the Coral Cup. This was his first run much beyond 2m and it’d be interesting to see him stepped up further in trip. Thoughts of the World Hurdle (20/1) are speculative but it’s a race crying out for a winner.
Earlier at Kempton, Tetlami made a belated seasonal debut having been found some decent ground and survived pecking badly at the 3rd to outclass two fair rivals in the novice chase (2m, good to soft.) He’s now 25/1 for the Arkle but with Simonsig and Captain Conan in the same yard, it may be that connections will aim him at the Grand Annual (rated 140 over hurdles) via a couple more novice runs in the interim. Novices with ratings in the 140s have struggled in the Grand Annual, so he might need to be kept away from graded company to achieve a winnable mark.
Si C’etait Vrai won a minor conditions event at Punchestown, (2m4f, heavy,) on Saturday. This horse had a big reputation as a novice hurdler two seasons ago and, returning from 18 months off, bustled up subsequent Ladbroke winner Cause Of Causes (who gave 2lb, now rated 149) at Fairyhouse, (2m, soft.) He was outclassed in a Grade 1 and didn’t look to get home over 3m before this win. Rated 133 coming into this, he won’t go up much so should get nicely into the bottom of the weights in something like the Coral Cup. He’s qualified for the Pertemps Final though and perhaps on better ground that trip would be more within range. He might be interesting at a big price and should be looked out for when the Festival handicap entries come out.
On Sunday at Navan, Ladbroke winner Cause Of Causes chinned Midnight Game (who received 1lb) in a minor 2m conditions hurdle, (heavy.) Cause Of Causes looked really inconvenienced by the small field dawdle but found loads off the bridle to mow down Midnight Game (who found little) close home. He goes for the Betfair Hurdle next and has lots of options at the Festival, still being a novice. Gordon Elliott was leaning towards the Supreme (20/1) and whilst he doesn’t have the obvious profile for that having had 12 runs and been on the go since February, he’d have a good chance on form.
Finally, where have all the non-standard Festival markets gone? Sprinter Sacre has been long odds-on for the Champion Chase since early December, yet there’s no ’betting without’ market. Betfred are going non runner, no bet on the Gold Cup, but last season Ladbrokes were offering non runner, no bet on all four championship races before Christmas. We’ve got used to bookmakers being ever more creative with new markets so perhaps we’ve been spoilt, but the lack of enterprise is a bit disappointing – let’s hope its just around the corner.