Friday, November 05, 2010

Friday fireworks?

Plenty of weekend fireworks to look forward to on this soggy bonfire night including the Breeders Cup at Churchill Downs, the final day of the Flat season at Doncaster (with the jockeys' title still undecided) and the return of Kauto Star in the Champion Chase at Down Royal.

Having said that, Wincanton stages a top class card tomorrow, the feature being the Badger Ales Trophy due off at 3.20. The question is to what extent will the predicted rain affect the going, currently described as good. Last year's winner Ellerslie George sports blinkers for the first time after two below par efforts at Market Rasen and Chepstow. Paul Nicholls fields two, Meanus Dandy and Niche Market; the latter has his first run for the champion trainer, having previously been in the care of Bob Buckler. On his seasonal reappearance in this race 12 months ago Niche Market finished well down the field but three short weeks later the gelding ran the race of his life to finish third behind Denman in the Hennessey at odds of 33/1. Perhaps connections intend to follow a similar route again although Nicholls is likely to have done a bit more work with his charge than Buckler had done at this stage last year. Meanus Dandy on the other hand was well beaten at Cheltenham in October (Ouzbeck six lengths ahead in third) - the application of first-time blinkers doesn't look encouraging. The Pipe yard has three entries with Tim Murphy's mount The Package the favourite this evening. This one has talent in abundance but he's not the most straight forward and can easily get excited - I recall him throwing away a Class 4 novice chase at Ludlow just over twelve months ago. In a recent stable tour Philip Hobbs said of Triggerman, 'Although he won two noivce hurdles at Wincanton, he's suited by a galloping track', while I'moncloudnine was only just run out of it on his seasonal reappearance at Bangor. I've never found the Badger Ales particularly easy (Swansea Bay was my last winner in this in 2003); I'moncloudnine looks young enough, open to improvement and he won't be inconvenienced by further rain so I'll have a small each-way wager - Stan James and Victor Chandler go 12/1 this evening.

The Elite Hurdle should prove informative. Australia Day, Barizan and Black Jack Blues like to race from the front and there is a danger they'll set this up for something coming from behind. Australia Day broke the course record at Kempton the last time but rain will be a hindrance while Barizan was slightly disappointing on his return - comments from connections after that run appeared to indicate they'd maybe look at novice chasing so I'm not tempted to chance him here. Nearby has surprised connections with two wins but Rebecca Curtis' Black Jack Blues looks progressive and gets the nod with claimer Aodhagan Conlon taking off a handy-looking seven pounds.

A mares' handicap hurdle at Cheltenham last April suggests there won't be much between Alasi and Banjaxed Girl in the 1.40. If Nicky Henderson's Kerada is marked up as a short price favourite, I'll chance top weight Banjaxed Girl provided the ground isn't too soft.

The market suggests the novice chase at 2.45 is between Robinson Collonges and Wishfull Thinking. The former, a striking grey, looked most impressive at Bangor the last time while the latter fell at the first in an Aintree novice. Philip Hobbs, not one known for recklessly talking up his charges, said recently of Wishfull Thinking, 'He's in grand order and I hope he has a big future over fences.' You pays your money and takes your choice - the Hobbs horse has raced mostly with plenty of cut in the ground - I'll stick with Robinson Collonges.

A couple of quick notes for Sandown. Two of Charlie Longsdon's caught the eye - Songe (runs in the 2.20) won as he liked the last time. The handicapper has done his worst and raised the Hernando gelding thirteen pounds for his trouble but there could be more to come. The concern would be his fencing at a track where jumping is at a premium - he's inexperienced compared to several of tomorrow's opponents. Meanwhile Bun Oir has his first run for the Longsdon yard in the juvenile hurdle, having come over from Jessica Harrington's in Ireland. Only four go in the novice chase - Pepe Simo didn't jump well at Fontwell the last time and although connections report they have done plenty of schooling I wouldn't be tempted at a short price.

Finally Kauto Star returns to action after his horrendous fall in the Gold Cup. At the time jockey Ruby Walsh was on record as saying he was just grateful the bay had walked away unscathed from the incident. The Star will reach the age of eleven in less than two months' time - is he as good as ever or will we see a sign that his powers are on the wane?

1 comment:

GeeDee said...

First time blinkers proved anything but a hindrance to Meanus Dandy (5/1) who won the Badger Ales with a slick jump at the last to see off persistent Buena Vista. Plenty of money for I'moncloudnine (6/1) but Ellerslie George denied the selection a place by a head.

No prisoners taken in the Elite which was won in impressive style by Nearby (11/2). Selection Black Jack Blues (6/1) won the race to get to the front but he'd used too much petrol and the game was up three out - he finished a well-beaten eighth. Australia Day overjumped the second and was in trouble thereafter while Barizan, held up here, didn't appear to appreciate the tactics and ran no race at all.

Banjaxed Girl (3/1) made a bold bid but was passed by 12/1 chance Santera before the last and was three lengths adrift at the line in second.

Wishfull Thinking (5/4f) took the novice chase but selection Robinson Collonges (2/1) looked to have the winner's measure when crumplng on landing at the third last.

Wins for Songe (11/4f) at Sandown and Kauto Star at Down Royal - a decision will be made midweek about whether to go for the Hennessy. Whatever happens, connections will need to find a replacement pilot after Walsh broke his leg in a fall in the penultimate race on the card.