Matt Tombs / Friday 16th November 2012 / 11:45
1pt Unaccompanied to win the Morgiana Hurdle @ 7/1
1pt Cash and Go to win the Racing Post Hurdle @ 7/1
Having already backed Walkon I’m happy to rely on him for the Paddy Power, but there are plenty of other betting opportunities over the next couple of days. Today I’m looking forward to seeing Dynaste (7/4) over fences, (schooling reports from Pond House have been good). Dynaste was rated 13lb higher over hurdles than Fingal Bay (11/8), and in receipt of 5lb he’s got a great chance here, even without the benefit of a run over fences. There’ll be those who think the trip (extended 2m4f) will suit Fingal Bay better but I think he’s a high class grinder rather than a quickener.
I rarely bet in running as you need to see events close to real time, but I might make an exception with Kid Cassidy (9/2). He’s really talented but very headstrong and connections are clearly keen to teach him to switch off. He was kept right out the back on his comeback run at Aintree (finished like a train) and it may be the same story here, so I wouldn’t back him before the race. However, if he’s ridden up with the pace, then he could give Nicky Henderson a 4 timer in this race.
In the 2m novice hurdle, Tominator (9/2) was rated 100 on the flat but didn’t jump that well on debut and may want further. There are plenty of other promising types here but they’ve got a huge job up against Dodging Bullets. He was a cracking 4th in the Triumph when the yard was out of form and hosed up here last month. I’m not sure he beat much but he’s shown form good enough to be in the shake up for the Supreme already and it’ll be a surprise if he’s turned over here – 11/8 looks big and he should be odds on.
Sea of Thunder is something of an anachronism in being a genuine firm ground horse. Only if the ground rides genuinely good on Saturday would he be a likely winner of the 3m novice chase. The likely favourite is Paul Nicholls Sire Collonges who is 3lb worse off for beating him 2l here last month, but I’m looking to see how bookies price up Masters Hill for the in-form Colin Tizzard. He beat 3 useful hurdlers easily at Chepstow when apparently needing the run, and is one I’m interested in backing.
I’m a big Hurricane Fly fan, which would normally mean I’d just be watching the Morgiana on Sunday as he’s 8/13. However, there has to be a doubt about the Mullins stable form - he’s said there’s been a cough in the yard that was mainly affecting the mares. Whilst some horses will be obviously sick, it’s often the case that a trainer won’t know which have missed the bug until they run. Yesterday at Clonmel his mare Tarla bolted up whilst two geldings were beaten - The Paparazzi Kid (1/4) and Turnandgo (4/9). Given that and the fact that Hurricane Fly isn’t an autumn horse, (beaten the only time he ran in this race 3 years ago, his only defeat in 11 runs in Ireland,) he may be worth taking on.
The race takes on a really good betting shape if you want to oppose Go Native (7/2). He was a top class hurdler 3 seasons ago, winning the Fighting Fifth and Christmas Hurdles before getting injured when favourite in the Champion. He was an eye-catching winner on the flat recently but that form’s hard to weigh up and Grade 1 company over hurdles is a very different ballgame. He has always been best on a sound surface so the heavy conditions will be against him and 7/2 looks too short.
That leaves Unaccompanied (7/1), who beat Thousand Stars 1½l in the Grade 1 at Leopardstown at Christmas. She had a breathing problem when bombing behind Hurricane Fly in the Irish Champion Hurdle but then had a good campaign on the flat (winning off 98 and now rated 105, so looks to be improving). She had an ideal pipe opener last month on the flat, handles the ground and crucially comes into the race with fitness and form proven.
She’s nowhere near good enough to beat Hurricane Fly close to his best, but there’s reason to think he may not be and I can see her finding the 11lb she officially needs. Dermot Weld has a 30% strike rate with his jumpers this season and she’s the classic type to cause an upset in an early season Grade 1.
In the Racing Post Hurdle, favourite Darlan (9/4) was impressive last season on flat tracks, culminating in a comfortable win in the Top Novice at Aintree. Some thought he was unlucky when 2nd in the Supreme and some criticized McCoy for being too far back, but I wasn’t sure he was handling the undulations. It makes sense to give him more experience of the course and 151 looks a winnable mark (4 of the last 8 winners rated between 148-152), but there’s no value in his price now considering those doubts about his liking for the track.
I don’t try and draw up a tissue for these sorts of races as it takes too long and I don’t do it well enough. I stick to the simpler (but less scientific) method of trying to work out the right price for horses I fancy. The first is Vendor (20/1) who was favourite for the Fred Winter and ran reasonably off 129. He pulled far too hard on his comeback run and is still well handicapped off 136. As Alan King said, his ability to produce his best here needs to be taken on trust but he’s just the sort of horse you kick yourself about when he bolts up. I wouldn’t like to be laying that sort of price in the ring but given he may be being brought along slowly I’m going to pass.
I’m going with Cash and Go (7/1) who was bought out of Eddie O’Grady’s yard for Nicky Henderson. He won an average novice Grade 1 (2m, good/yielding) at Leopardstown at Christmas, before finishing lame and scoping badly on his final start. He’s an unknown quantity but 141 looks a lenient mark. He doesn’t have experience of the hurly-burly of big handicaps but otherwise looks to have a great chance and the vibes are really positive. I think he should be about 9/2 so there’s plenty of juice in his price.
On the supporting card, the ground will be crucial in the novice chase. If the predicted rain does fall then it might be on the soft side by Sunday, in which case Sire De Grugy is the most likely winner of the opening 2m novice chase. Ground is important to him and he escapes a penalty for his Kempton win. He was rated 147 over hurdles, the same as likely favourite Captain Conan. Both could well end up in the Arkle and there are some other decent prospects entered but if the ground is genuinely soft, Sire De Grugy could well go off an attractive price.
Back at Punchestown, Oscars Well should have too much speed for the likes of Baily Green and Twinlight in the Craddockstown over 2m, but is likely to be odds-on. There are some really nice types entered in the Florida Pearl (2m6f) though and the heavy ground will suit likely favourite Back In Focus. He looks like a slogger who’ll be at his best when stepped up to 3m+ and he might not be able to gallop the finish out of his opponents here. It’ll be interesting to see what sort of price Lyreen Legend is if he lines up. He’s the tough and unflashy type who might be underestimated for the in form Dessie Hughes.