Ante Post Zone: Joseph O’Brien has always been a likely candidate to rise to the top of the racing tree but even with his resources he’s done it incredibly fast. The Younger O’Brien had a brilliant success with Le Richebourg beating stablemate Us And Them into second to take the Grade 1 Racing Post Novice Chase and he could give himself another major contender for Cheltenham in the shape of Sir Erec.
There has been a good deal of buzz regarding Sir Erec, who is one of the season’s top juvenile recruits. He was an impressive winner of the Listed Martin Molony Stakes before getting to within two and a half lengths of Stradivarius in the Long Distance Cup at Ascot, ending with a rating of 109.
He runs in the Paddy Power “Only 363 Days Till Christmas” 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle (12.10), a very positive sign given the race’s recent history, especially with horses from Ballydoyle. Father Aidan won it with Plinth in 2013, and then Joesph, training under his father’s license, won this and then the Triumph with Ivanovich Gorbatov, and then last season Mr Adjudicator.
He appeals as an idea Triumph type given that he’s not only shown the obvious stamina needed on the flat, but also that he’s won over 10 furlongs on the flat, and hopefully a slowly run race won’t catch him out today. Defeat would be a tad disheartening, but not disqualifying for his chances – Plenty of Triumph winners and placed horses have been beaten at some point during their juvenile seasons.
The King George was a brilliant contest, even if the winner – Clan Des Obeaux – was a sight shock. One cannot crab his performance, a real coming of age after a masterful ride from Harry Cobden, but it remains to be seen just how well suited he is to the Blue Riband – Cheltenham holds no fears for him but an extended, undulating 3 miles and 2 furlongs can produce a very different race to the King George, and connections of Native River will probably be just as thrilled as those of Clan Des Obeaux and Thistlecrack, who looks now to be very close to, if not past the level of his best form over fences.
Politilogue ended up fourth, running with credit but perhaps suggesting that he might be best at the intermediate distance. With Clan Des Obeaux in the stable, and a Grade 1 win in the bag at 2m4f, perhaps the Ryanair might be the obvious target for John Hales’ grey and if he went there he would have far fewer concerns than many of his rivals there. Bet Victor offer 14/1 on him and that price would be very big if he turned up there fit and well.
Santini, who readers are already on for the RSA, was third in the Feltham/Kauto Star behind La Bague Au Roi, who jumped brilliantly down the back straight to fight off Topofthegame after the last. That pairing got away from Santini from the back straight and home turn but around Cheltenham it would have been a different story and there’s no need to be disheartened. It remains to be seen where the winner and runner up go – both would be serious contenders in either the RSA or the JLT Novices’ Chase, and the latter might be a problem.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Sir Erec, 2019 Triumph Hurdle (20/1 Bet365, Boylesports), 1 pt each/way Politlogue, 2019 Ryanair Chase (14/1 Bet Victor, 12/1 general)
Anyway, onto today’s three big meetings of interest – but just before that, do consider the claims of Anibale Fly in the Savils Chase tomorrow. There will be a more in depth preview of the race tomorrow but put simply, he is following a similar path to one taken before he destroyed the field in the Paddy Power Handicap Chase, warming up over 2 miles on his comeback run, and the ground looks to have come just right for him. It’s worth remembering he was third in a Gold Cup and then fourth in the Grand National.
Advice: 2 pts each/way Anibale Fly (12/1 Paddy Power)
12.10 – Paddy Power “Only 363 Days Till Christmas” 3-Y-O Maiden Hurdle (3yo): Tons of horses that are on the shortlist, including Tiger Tap Tap, Pienta, Andaulusa, Foreign Secretary, Ingenuity and Fightfortheroses. However, we will hope that Sir Erec can make a winning debut here.
12.40 – Paddy Power “Live Stream All Irish Racing On Our App” Beginners Chase (4yo+): Many of these have disappointed at some point in the last year but they all have ablity, making this a tricky task. A chance is taken on Red Jack bouncing back to his best. Previously unbeaten in three starts, he looked like a graded horse when beating the useful Stooshie on the bridle last November and if he’s over what was ailing him in the Royal Bond when he disappointed, he can go well. Real Steel showed talent last year but looked a tricky ride upon occasions and Paloma Blue was a bitter disappointment on his chasing debut despite a really strong novice season.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Red Jack (7/1 general)
1.15 – Paddy’s Rewards Club “Sugar Paddy” Chase (Grade 1) (5yo+): A cracking renewal. Great Field was thrilling two seasons ago and whilst he has struggled with injury, he was still good enough to take a Grade 2 on his only start last season and if he puts in a clear round he can serve it upto any of his rivals here.
Ballyosin made it four in a row with his victory in the Fortia Chase, and will be another big player here. Indeed, his presence here makes this a race with lots of pace upfront and that could play into the hands of Simply Ned, last year’s winner, Doctor Phoenix, a traditional hold up horse, and Ordinary World.
Castlegrace Paddy was a brilliant winner of the Hilly Way Chase last time who adds onto the potential pace and he needs consideration.
Advice: 1 pt win Great Field (4/1 general)
1.50 – Paddy Power Future Champions Novice Hurdle (Grade 1) (4yo+): A small field and not one with much separating the the contenders. The Royal Bond turned into a sprint where pretty much only Quick Grahbim had a chance from the front but it might be the best preparation and perhaps second Triplicate can beat Aramon again. That form looks stronger than the Grade 3 that Sancta Simona won at Down Royal even if she had more in hand than the winning margin suggested. Gigginstown have a three pronged challenge and Daly Tiger, a gutsy hurdling winner on debut at Punchestown, is the most interesting of them and the market has realized that.
Advice: 1 pt win Triplicate (3/1 general)
2.25 – Paddy Power “Enough of your Nonsense” Handicap Hurdle (4yo+): Tudor City is perhaps an obvious choice but he ran into a smart horse in the shape of Wonder Laish at the Fairyhouse in a Grade A Handicap Hurdle and he’s only gone up 4lbs for that effort. A repeat would give him a strong chance here.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Tudor City
3.00 – Paddy Power Chase (Extended Handicap) (Grade B) (5yo+ 0-150): Always a nearly impossible race to get a handle on and one worth taking a chance or two in. Sunugbrough Benny disappointed on his first start of the winter at Fairyhouse but he had been in good form over fences before that and he might have needed his first run since winning at the Galway Festival, too.
It’s not a big Irish handicap without a full Willie Mullins assault on the race and one of his many contenders that catches the eye is Minella Beau. He was a severe disappointment in the Troytown but the time before that he was making his way into the race when falling in the Cork Grand National. He needs to put in a clear round, but if he does he can outrun his price by a good margin.
From the top of the market, Any Second Now reminds one of Anibale Fly – a lot of back class, blinkers for the first time and a handicap mark well within his range – and it would be no surprise if a big effort was forthcoming here following his Fairyhouse second.
French imports have made their debut in this race before, and Borice will be of interest for Gordon Elliott off a mark of 137. He was fourth in the Prix La Haye Jousselin last year and then was a close third in a Grade 3 handicap, so that mark looks lenient for the
Advice: 1 pt each/way Snugsborough Benny (16/1 Bet365, Ladbrokes), 1 pt each/way Minella Beau (25/1 Bet Victor*, Paddy Power, 22/1 Bet365)
3.30 – Paddy Power Games ‘One For The Road’ Flat Race: The strangely named K’chou Du Pecos AA is likely to provide the commentators with a lot of strife and he is probably the most interesting of these on paper, albeit too short to back in a race like this. The market likes Milan Native of Gordon Elliott’s next and there’s a fair gap before the rest of the field, but it’s worth noting that the first three home in yesterday’s s bumper were double figure shots with experience and the first and second favorites cut each other up.
What a day at Kempton yesterday! If three Grade 1’s and two shocks weren’t enough for you, then we only have the return of of Altior in the Desert Orchid Chase.
12.50 – 32Red Casino Introductory Juvenile Hurdle (Class 2) (3yo): An informative race which some decent winners in the roll of honor with promising debutants thrown into the mix as well. Alan King has a really strong record and Nebuchadnezzar found only the subsequent Cheltenham winner Nelson River too good on his Cheltenham debut and that will probably set a strong standard. However French import Deadline Diva was a wide margin winner in August (Pompuador conditions race) and then when making his hurdling debut in September (Prix Maurice Calve in Bordeuaux), is one of many interesting rivals here.
San Seb was a wide margin winner at Fakenham whilst Olympic Odyssey was improving at the end of the flat season. Beat The Judge was semi-useful and could improve now hurdling for Gary Moore too but the really interesting one is Belargus, who floundered in the heavy ground on his hurdling debut for Nick Gifford after pulling Leighton Aspell’s arms out early on. This surface could suit him better as a winner on good to soft earlier in the season and maybe this course will too, so he could outrun his odds.
Advice: Watching brief
1.20 – 32Red.com Wayward Lad Novices’ Chase (Grade 2) (Class 1) (4yo+): A nervous old 5 minutes or so for readers, yours truly included, who are on Kalashnikov for the Arkle. He has looked good so far over fences but he probably wants a stiffer track than this and the Supreme form has taken some heavy hits since then, and he will have to be sharp to give weight to Maria’s Benefit, and also to take on Dyanamite Dollars, who won the Henry VII Novices’ Chase in gutsy style when Highway One O One was behind. Hope’s Wishes looks outclassed.
Advice: No bet.
1.55 – 32Red Casino Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (4yo+): It is a surprise to see Momella back handicapping but she was going well when falling in the Long Distance Hurdle at Newbury and she should take the beating here. Chilli Filli was a wide margin winner at Ludlow last time and is now up 11lbs and against much better horses
Of the rest, Culture De Sivola is very interesting, having made a good return in a listed event when the lack of pace would not have helped her. She was running on unfavorable terms there when behind Mia’s Storm and If You Say Run there but she’ll strip fitter for that and the way she won a valuable contest at Haydock in Marc suggested she could handle a better for race.
Advice: 2 pts win Momella (13/8 Bet65), 1 pt each/way Culture De Sivola (8/1 general)
2.30 – Unibet Desert Orchid Chase (Grade 2) (Class 1) (4yo+): Time to sit and watch Alitor, although we got a reminder of what can happen in the shape of Buveur’s defeat yesterday. Special Tiara has his ground and looks to be a popiuar choice for second but with Speredek and Diego Du Charmil also around there’s three front runners and Diakali might be involved too.
Advice: Watching brief.
3.05 – 32Red.com Handicap Chase (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-145): There are realistic claims for Springtown Lake, Just A Sting, Kilcrea Vale (9/2), Wandrin Star, Adrien Du Pont, Deauville Dancer, and Exitas and this might be a race that’s best left.
3.35 – 32Red Download The App Handicap Hurdle (Class 3) (3yo+ 0-140): Headgear could bring the best out of previous course and distance winner Distingo for the Moores whilst Malaya is on a decent mark based solely on his juvenile hurdle win, but this is a race with many contenders and we can also leave this too.
Advice: No bet.
1.05 – Download The Coral App Handicap Chase (Class 2) (4yo+): Doitforthevillage has two wins at this distance even if he’s been racing at 2m for the past two years but more importantly he’s had no luck, and when that changes there’s a race of this type in Paul Henderson’s nine-year-old. He is 6lbs lower than his sixth in the Grand Annual, a race where he was creeping into the contest before being badly hampered. Indeed, he hasn’t had a clear run since then – but if he gets one then he’s well capable of doing very close..
Advice: 1 pt each/way Doitforthevillage (7/1 general)
1.35 – Coral Finale Juvenile Hurdle (Grade 1) (Class 1) (3yo): Quel Destin has quickly made hay in Britain with two Graded wins, but Adjali was well ahead of him twice in France and didn’t look to have any trouble acclimatizing to these different climes when bolting up for Nicky Henderson on debut.
More interesting than either of these contenders is Arverne, a winner of the Prix de Beaugency who came through the field in impressive style midway through the race and made it third time lucky with an assertive victory. He’s since been brought by JP McManus but is a rare runner here for Adrien Lacrombe.
Tazka has 13 lengts to fine with Quel Destin and De Bryune Horse has even more to fine with Tazka.
Advice: Watching brief.
2.10 – “The Smart Money’s On Coral” Handicap Hurdle (Class 2) (4yo+ 0-145): Expect plenty of support for Truckers Lodge, who bolted up by 10 lengths over course and distance last time. That performance is amongst the most convincing pieces of form here and it came on heavy ground as well. Another Emotion’s return at Sandown was a creditable one and he should strip fitter for it whilst Virginia Chick ran in similar fashion at Newbury about a month ago, but none makes enough appeal to back.
Advice: No bet.
2.50 – Coral Welsh Grand National Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (4yo+): Vintage Clouds didn’t have everything – or anything really – go his way when fourth in this race last year but afterwards he ran a brilliant race to be second in the Towton Novices; Chase before finishing third at the Cheltenham Festival and in the Scottish National. A game winner on his return at Haydock, we know he can handle the test presented here and he’s carrying just 2lbs more in real terms than he was last year too.
Baie Des Isles was badly hampered at Valentines’ in the Grand National but has since landed a big pot in the shape of the Grade 2 Prix des Drags at Auteil and Ross O’Sulivan’s seven year old relishes a soft ground battle. Fifth in the 2016 renewal – a race that has produced Gold Cup winner Native River and last year’s winner Raz De Maree amongst others – she has since kept on trucking when it comes to long distance slogs and she’s much better off with Folsom Blue compared to their last meeting, which the two were separated by Isleofhopendreams, who has since finished second in an Irish National and also at the Punchestown Festival. A mark of 144 appears to be one of the fairest marks in this field and she is taken as the second against the field.
There have been winners at 20/1 (twice) and 16/1 in the last 10 years, as one expects for a Welsh National, so looking for a big price is a perquisite and Kansas City Chief is interesting. He has been racing over hurdles for the last year since moving to Neil Mulholland but when he was with Mary Hallahan in Ireland he was a very smart handicap chaser, who beat Space Cadet two years ago (then rated 123) before then finishing second in the Killarney National (133).
Rated just 135 now in the UK, this has probably been the target for well over a year and it is very interesting that connections have proceeded with this route.
Advice: 1 pt each/way Vintage Clouds (10/1 Coral, 8/1 SkyBet), 1 pt each/way Baie Des Isles (11/1 Coral, 10/1 SkyBet), 1 pt each/way Kansas City Chief (25/1 general)