Friday, January 22, 2010

Ascot and Haydock

Tomorrow's feature at Ascot is the Victor Chandler Chase which is run over two miles one furlong. Twist Magic did this blog a favour when making all to win the Tingle Creek at Sandown in early December; he's the top-rated horse here and this evening is generally priced up the 11/8 favourite. Although blessed with plenty of ability, TM has never been one to trust implicitly; having said that, I've seen a couple of reports this week claiming he's now a reformed character. Trainer Paul Nicholls has expressed some slight reservations about the suitability of this track for his charge. On grounds of value I'm considering opposing him here with Nicky Henderson's Petit Robin - Tony McCoy takes the ride as stable jockey Barry Geraghty is engaged at Haydock. Petit Robin was third behind Master Minded in last year's Queen Mother at Cheltenham and just for a fraction of a second looked as though he might cause an upset as they rounded the home turn; since then he has taken the Desert Orchid Chase at Kempton on his seasonal debut and can be expected to come on for that run. Looking through the form I think he may have a slight preference for going left-handed but the stiff track and soft ground should suit, even though all his victories to date have come on flat tracks. Throughout the week Coral has stood apart from other layers offering 11/4 Petit Robin - I'll take a chance at that price.

I wouldn't be inclined to oppose Whiteoak in the mares' hurdle while Francois Doumen tends to do well with the horses he brings over at this time of year. Moneywise would be worth a second look in the opener but Spiv is probably best watched in the 1.30.

Only four go to post in the opener at Haydock where the going is reported as soft, heavy in places on the chase course. Nicky Henderson's Radium is likely to go off odds-on while this represents a set up in class for Peddlers Cross. Donald McCain rates his charge highly - Peddlers Cross gets the vote.

A tentative suggestion in the Tim Moloney Handicap Chase is Venetia Williams' Never So Blue (apparently owned by 'The Moody Blues'). This one was well-backed the last time in the London National at Sandown but didn't appear to stay the trip. Earlier today jockey Aidan Coleman pointed out in a guest blog at Racing UK that the horse has already won at Haydock; he rates his mount 'a proper stayer' and it was the Sandown course that didn't suit. I'll consider a small each-way interest at around the 12/1 mark.

Only four in the novices' chase at 2.20 but it looks decidedly tricky; the eventual winner is likely to end up near the head of the market for the RSA Chase at Cheltenham on March 17th. Diamond Harry has won over the course and over the distance but tackles fences for the first time in public - the reports are he's schooled well. Alan King's Bensalem is well-regarded but was held up in the recent cold spell. The chances are that comment will also apply to the horse with the most chasing experience in the field, Knockara Beau. KB is a horse I like but he has to give three pounds to Bensalem and seven to the other two. Peter Bowen's Mumbles Head finished four lengths behind Albert Bartlett winner Weapon's Amnesty in a three mile novice chase at Newcastle the last time - the shorter trip here should help; on official ratings he's bang there with a chance. This may well go to the horse that jumps the best - on the grounds of value I'll chance Knockara Beau.

Current champion hurdler Punjabi will be expected to beat his three opponents (one, Afsoun, from the same stable) on the way to defending his title at Cheltenham in March while the feature here is the Peter Marsh Chase in which Mon Mome heads the weights; that one has the Grand National in April as his target. Cloudy Lane won this last year carrying eleven stones ten and is respected. In a competitive renewal course and distance winner According To Pete will be popular - if I get involved I'll take a small each-way interest in Mr Strachan (12/1 with Paddy Power this evening). This one, from a yard that had a winner at Catterick earlier today, has a nice racing weight but a tendency to put in the odd poor jump here and there. Let's hope the application of first-time cheekpieces help eradicate the errors.

4 comments:

Ben Aitken said...

Hi Gee DEE

The Novices' Chase at Haydock looks tricky. All 4 could be in with a chance and as you point out this should have a bearing on the RSA market. I'm undecided whether I will have a bet in the race (which usually means I shouldn't!).

GeeDee said...

Agree Ben. 16/1 Mumbles Head looks too big but in my mind's eye I just can't see him in front on the line. Money for Bensalem this morning.

GeeDee said...

Just one winner and plenty of torn-up slips on a day which was notable on two counts - a number of winners for the Alan King yard but not one from several fancied chances for the Nicky Henderson team.

I thought McCoy got the tactics right on Petit Robin (15/8) in the Victor Chandler. Twist Magic (11/8f) showed some temperament in the preliminaries and for a moment appeared reluctant to start. He was whipped in to join the others as they set off and so raced near the head of affairs. McCoy had his mount upsides the favourite from Swinley Bottom but TM's jumping and class won him the day. PR made a bad mistake at the ninth and jumped out left at other fences - the writing was on the wall as they rounded the home turn. TM had twelve lengths in hand over his rival at the post; he's now quoted as low as 4/1 with a couple of layers for the Queen Mother at Cheltenham. I'd expect Oh Crick to improve for his third in this race.
The mares' hurdle was notable for the poor performaces of the two market leaders, Strawberry (5/2f) and Whiteoak (3/1). Strawberrry was pulled up before the tenth while Whiteoak, who appeared keen enough early on, went out like a light three from home, trailing in sixth behind gutsy winner Sweetheart (8/1).

At Haydock Peddlers Cross (11/8) had things his own way up front, confirming his potential with an easy victory. Never So Blue (8/1) failed to get competitive, receiving reminders after the fifteenth - he was pulled up before four out and looks one to be wary of for the time being.
The novice chase went the way of Diamond Harry (8/11f), the one with the least fencing experience of the quartet. Coming to three out the race looked as though it would develop into a match between the winner and Bensalem (100/30) but the Alan King horse took a crashing fall and hindered Knockara Beau (9/2) in the process; KB's chance looked to have gone before he was impeded. This evening Coral go 6/1 Diamond Harry for the RSA Chase while the Tote stand alone in splendid isolation offering 10/1.
Reigning champion hurdler Punjabi (5/6f) was beaten fair and square by Medermit (11/4), Alan King clearly pleased with his charge's performance after the race. Speaking to The Times before the race jockey Choc Thornton had nominated Medermit as a live outsider for the champion hurdle -"... I wouldn't be surprised if he was in the first four." Books reacted to this result by cutting his odds from 33/1 to 16/1 which still looks fair value to me.
Three pound claimer Danny Cook was the villain the last time when taking the wrong course at Cheltenham on Our Vic but he more than made up for it here having the 12 year old at the head of affairs and taking the Peter Marsh at odds of 20/1. Several of the fancied runners struggled to get in a blow - Mr Strachan (8/1) raced prominently for a circuit but lost his place thereafter and came home in his own time in ninth. Grand National winner Mon Mome (22/1) put in an eye-catchng performance under top weight to claim fourth spot.

Ben Aitken said...

McCoy rode a grand race on PETIT ROBIN. He did all he could to beat the fav but basically Twist Magic's class won the day. Even in defeat the champ shines through.