Oddschecker racing ambassador Nick Scholfield reviews the weekend racing action.
The star of the show on Saturday was obviously Altior, beating Un De Sceaux easily in the Tingle Creek. Along with Saint Calvados and Sceau Royal it was a really strong line up and Altior is still unbeaten. Theres’s nothing to suggest this won’t be the case come March, and you can bank on a win at Cheltenham, barring injury.
Min won well again at Punchestown but now the Willie Mullins 2 milers all have had a crack at Altior and failed, it looks like it might end up being a really hot Ryanair Chase. Unless they decide to try the 3 mile route but listening to Nicky Henderson, he is likely to stick to the Champion Chase for his eight-year-old.
One who disappointed at the weekend was Apples Shakira, but she is in very good hands and those races can be really hard for young fillies, so I wouldn’t write her off. You’re probably looking at handicap routes rather than champion, unless she shows otherwise in the lead up of course.
I was really impressed with Definitly Red again. He won the Charlie Hall on quick ground then won on soft ground on Saturday. He’s certainly good enough to line up in a Gold Cup and would give any punter their money’s worth. I wouldn’t go as far as saying he will win but he'll be looking at the picture now, he’s as solid as they come and a good jumper. He could be vulnerable to classier types but he runs his race more often than not.
Dynamite Dollars is in good hands with Paul Nicholls, but I’m not sure Lalor gave his full running this weekend and maybe the last run in testing conditions took it out of him, so I wouldn’t rule him out entirely. Regarding Dynamite Dollars, I wouldn’t be surprised if they upped him in trip as he may lack that bit of pace for the Arkle, but he seems to be improving all the time. He’ll need to improve another 10lb more if he’s realistically going be a top class performer.
I really liked the way Defi Du Seuil won at Exeter on Friday, Top Of His Game was unlucky at the start and for me Defi won the race with a bit in hand. It would have been interesting had they both started in time. I wouldn’t be able to second guess what race he would go for with connections but youre probably looking at the JLT. Exeter is a stiff track and they started him off over 2m 3f, so they must be thinking that way.
Vieux Lion Rouge ran a good race in the Becher and has been round the Aintree course a few times now. He really stayed on well and always been one I like for a while. He’s to look out for at big prices in the Grand National.
Another big performance from Charbel this weekend beating some handy sorts at Huntingdon, but I get the impression he is one that wants a flat track and good ground, so whether he is a Cheltenham candidate, I’m not sure. Maybe Aintree. He jumped well and the ground was on the quicker side which played into his hands, but I think he is more one for April than Cheltenham.