Friday, December 23, 2016

Boxing Day blues

A little like Victor Meldrew I feel I must be getting old and miserable because the Boxing Day cards have just failed to inspire.

In years gone by, driven to distraction by the family Christmas, I've attended Newton Abbot and Towcester races on St Stephen's Day but unfortunately those fixtures no longer form part of the racing calendar.

The withdrawal of Coneygree has paved the way for Thistlecrack to take on stablemate Cue Card in the King George VI Chase at Kempton. A fascinating race in prospect, agreed, but with just five runners it's one to savour rather than bet on. The meagre turnout for this showpiece event is likely to be seen as something of an embarrassment in certain quarters.

A similarly small field is assured for Kempton's Christmas Hurdle where Sam Twiston-Davies will want to try and make all aboard The New One. Richard Harper has declared Gray Wolf River, rated some 104 pounds lower than The New One, in the hope of collecting place prize money; some layers have quoted odds of 5,000/1.

Hennessy form should come in handy in the next few days with Blaklion and Henri Parry Morgan declared for Monday's Rowland Meyrick at Wetherby while Native River, Carole's Destrier, Vyta Du Roc and Theatre Guide all hold entries for the Welsh Grand National at Chepstow on Tuesday.

On form Blaklion looks the one to beat at Wetherby but after his fifth in the Hennessy pilot Ryan Hatch reported his charge had 'cut out' up the long home straight and connections were likely to consider a breathing operation...

Previous Welsh National winners Mountainous and Emperor's Choice will probably try to repeat the trick on Tuesday but, provided the going doesn't dry out too much, I'll take an each-way interest in Firebird Flyer.

Second in last year's race, Evan Williams' charge went on to win the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter in March and had a reasonable prep on his seasonal debut at Haydock last month. He starts from a mark eight pounds higher this time.

Looking slightly further ahead, ITV commences its racing coverage at Cheltenham on New Year's Day. Richard Hoiles is the new lead commentator; I know I'm going to miss Simon Holt.

Happy Christmas!


Anonymous said...

The King George VI Chase, small field notwithstanding, is a fascinating race and you are probably right in saying it is one to watch rather than invest.

But in the hope that Silviniaco Conti (SC) is being written off too early I’ve taken an interest at 33/1 EW (2 plcs , ¼ odds). It is a worry that SC was pulled up in this race last year but since then his form has not been too shabby. Having had a wind operation and fitted with blinkers for the first time he won the Chase Stakes at Ascot in a canter, the race probably did not suit him when pulled up fairly early in the Grand National and whilst no match for Valseur Lido he ran O.K on his seasonal debut. Of course he has 40L to find with Cue Card on Betfair Chase form last time out but the going was quite heavy that day and with better ground almost certain on Boxing Day I’m taking a chance that SC just might have a better day at the office.

Thanks for some entertaining and informative posts in 2016 and best wishes for the Christmas.


GeeDee said...

Yes, TW, it struck me a big price about a horse that beat Cue Card in both the 2013 and 2014 runnings of this race and on official chase ratings is the second best animal in the field; I'm tempted...

Many thanks for your informed comments during year, TW, and good luck with your selections over the Christmas period.


Anonymous said...

Silviniaco Conti almost snatched 2nd place with a late rally but nothing came close to Thistlecrack who posted a most impressive display.

Native River looks the obvious choice for the Welsh National but his odds reflect this. I like Firebird Flyer but as you feared, the race looks likely, after a couple of drying days, to be run on going close to Good to Soft which may not be perfect. So instead I’ve opted to take an interest in your 2016 Scottish Grand National selection Royale Knight. His form this term is underwhelming and of course he is fully exposed. On the plus side the better ground will suit him more than some others, his mark has dropped to 137 and there was some light in his last run. 33/1 EW (5 places) with Paddy Power might not be the worst bet in the world.

Good luck


GeeDee said...

Hi TW,

In his post-race interview, Tom Scudamore indicated he considers Thistlecrack the best horse he has sat on; an excellent effort from Silviniaco Conti - the price on offer was too big.

Yes, I think the drying ground is against my selection in the Welsh National. This year's handicap looks pretty tightly compressed with bottom weight Emperor's Choice set to carry 10-10 and in that sense it doesn't look a typical renewal.

Good luck with Royale Knight - I've followed his fortunes for a while. His form this season has been below par but he appeals at the price quoted. For me, he remains the one that got away when he missed the cut for the Aintree National in April. I did wonder whether connections would aim for Aintree again this time around (and, of course, they may well still do that) but they've kept their charge busy this term - this will be his fourth run since October. Still, the trainer is in excellent form, boasting an impressive 23% strike rate so far this season.

GeeDee said...

In the Welsh Grand National Richard Johnson sent 11/4 favourite Native River on after the third fence and from there Colin Tizzard's inmate ran his rivals ragged with an imperious display. The champion jockey summed it up after the race: ' win a Welsh National off top weight is a hell of a performance'.

Selection Firebird Flyer (10/1) crept his way into contention on the second circuit and on ground that looked plenty soft enough held a share of fourth coming into the home straight but he couldn't help disperse those Boxing Day blues plodding on at the one pace and losing four places to finish well-beaten in eighth, some forty lengths behind the impressive winner.