2:05 – RSA Chase (Grade 1) (CLASS 1) (5yo+)
It’s going to be a slog of a race like it usually is and it’s wide open, with no stand out runner at all. The Irish lot have all been beating each other throughout the season and nothing has come out as looking better than the rest. Despite a schooling fall Ballycasey looks all about being a staying chaser and he’s shown decent pace too.
Don Cossack is a brute of a horse that would need to improve for the trip. Carlingford Lough has a touch more experience in races like this and is respected and Morning Assembly also comes into the mix. Of the UK runners, Smad Place has impressed thus far and Corrin Wood did well to beat Black Thunder at Warwick last time.
The latter interests me here but the ground may not be his ideal. Le Bec and Sam Winner have form that tie into each other here and so too do O’Faolains Boy and Many Clouds. But ANNACOTTY is simply way too big a price to ignore. He won the Feltham on Boxing Day in great style, form which looks solid enough with Green Flag running well today.
He went off very quickly in a handicap on Trials day and did so well to beat all bar Indian Castle. You’d expect this ground to be ideal and he’s a different horse with blinkers. The worry is if he gets taken on for the lead but Corrin Wood is the only one to really threaten that and he may be held up more. This one shouldn’t be 25/1 anyway.
Advice – Annacotty 1pt e/w @25/1 Boylesports
4:00 - Glenfarclas Handicap Chase (A Cross Country Chase) (CLASS 2) (5yo+)
I love C&D form over the cross country course as time and again the same horses come up trumps. There’s none better than BALTHAZAR KING either, winner here in November and of this race in 2012. He missed last year’s race won by Big Shu and took this off 11lb lower the year before, but he’s a much better horse now and importantly he gets his good ground.
Big Shu again runs and should go well though I think he ideally wants softer while Enda Bolger’s Star Neuville off a feather weight is highly respected, so too stablemates Love Rory and Quantitativeeasing. Sire Collonges won here in December, finding tons for pressure late on to beat Any Currency. That race wasn’t as strong.
Sizing Australia and Uncle Junior have good course form and though the former has place claims, the latter never runs well at the Festival. Diamond Harry has a squeak at a bigger price.
Advice – Balthazar King 3pts win @6/1 generally
4:40 – Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle Grade 3 (CLASS 1) (4yo)
This is a desperately tough race to find a winner in, just like it usually is. A strong pace should be ideal for Dawalan who has mixed it with good horses this term. Ivan Grozny was a Triumph hope at some point but disappointed a touch last time, while stablemate Noble Inn has a tough ask off a big weight.
I prefer the Irish form of Clarcam who would be a good pointer if he won to a couple of Triumph horses In Broughton and Guitar Pete. He was actually beat in October by Orgilgo Bay on good ground and that rival has since disappointed on softer. He’s a fascinating runner with the hood tried.
Katgary is very much being talked about as the good thing but his French form isn’t that strong and he looked to need every yard of 2m2f when last seen winning at Enghien on soft. I can’t have Goodwood Mirage at all. He looked ungenuine on the flat and he doesn’t inspire as a hurdler to me, despite good reports.
Baradari is respected if his jumping better and Azza is a nice filly with a good future but VIOLET DANCER gets my vote. Our Ontheotherhood colleague George Gorman, despite broken Internet, just about got his point across that he liked this horse for the race and I can certainly see why.
He won his first two in good style, the latter particularly impressive considering the runner-up is rated 123 and the third 141, while a blunder late on meant he lost a good deal of ground. Since then he’s disappointed in soft ground but a return to better and a strongly run race could see a huge run from this horse. Astra De La Cour if taking to faster ground and Certification are respected.
Advice – Violet Dancer 1pt e/w @20/1 generally
5:15 - Weatherbys Champion Bumper (A Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race) Grade 1 (CLASS 1) (4-6yo)
The Bumper is always a big favourite of mine and this year is no different. Willie Mullins has won it eight times and he has three big chances at the head of the market. Killultagh Vic looked a serious horse when beating last year’s third Golantilla last time on soft though he may after looking back at the race, be a touch flattered by that.
Black Hercules and Shaneshill look smart but I prefer others at the prices. VIGIL appeals as the best horse in the race to me at this stage on evidence seen. I was massively impressed by his win last time, beating a decent yardstick of which his stablemate didn’t beat anywhere near so well and I think he improves for the ground. He’s a strong travelling type who needs seriously respecting for a yard that do well over both codes and Pat Smullen taking the ride is significant.
Modus has impressed thus far, though different ground and a couple of furlongs further are question marks for him. Value At Risk represents connections of 2009 winner Dunguib and looks best of the other Irish lot. I backed Definitly Red last time and long term he’s a smart horse, Neck Or Nothing was going well still in a good bumper here at the Open Meeting but jumped the path and lost vital ground while Our Kaempfer ran third in that too and can do much better here.
Cue Card’s connections have Third Act who won a weak bumper at Kempton last time but did it in good style while Royal Vacation ran well on debut for them too but requires a lot more. My antepost fancy is EL NAMOOSE for John Ferguson, a deeply impressive winner of a Musselburgh bumper on debut, form which is working out. Everything should be right for a big run, including a strong pace and good ground.
At big prices I think Our Kaempfer is worth a bet as mentioned and so too maybe Joshua Lane and Assam Black. The former caught the eye in a bumper at Ascot when finishing behind Seven Nation Army and before that beat all bar Shaneshill on debut. He’s got Geraghty on board and is a good 33/1 poke. Assam Black meanwhile should not be 50/1 as his form has worked out well, Harry Fry would not be coming here with a no hoper and he could well have improved since his break.
Already Advised – El Namoose 1pt e/w @20/1 generally
Advice – Vigil 2pts win @17/2 BetBright
Obviously it’s worth mentioning the Coral Cup where Magnifique Etoile runs. It’s a 28 runner field so you can hardly be confident but i’ve always thought he can run to a higher mark than 148 even with that weight hike after Stratford and we still don’t know how good he really is. The step up in trip should be ideal, hopefully he jumps well with Noel back on, the ground should be fine and I think a lot is in his favour. 25/1 is too big anyway.
The Neptune is a cracker and I wouldn’t mind either Faugheen or Red Sherlock winning as both would help the antepost book. I have a trixie with the Mullins novices’ so with Vautour winning that is on, while Red Sherlock is an antepost bet at 12′s. I think it’s between those two anyway, Rathvinden being the main danger and Killala Quay overpriced. I am glad Creepy didn’t get in our race as off that mark he’d have had a huge chance finally back on his ground. Ballyalton is another who will appreciate the return to good ground.
The Champion Chase is a wide open race and i’d love Sire De Grugy to win. I don’t believe the track is a big negative as he’s twice run good races here though just a touch below his best due to sloppy jumping. He’s a better horse now though and if his jumping is on form he wins for me. Captain Conan is a big danger, I can’t touch Arvika Ligeonniere, Baily Green needs to improve and so too does Hinterland but he’s best fresh and is well worth his chance in the field. Kid Cassidy is hard to weigh up and former winner of the race e Sizing Europe is respected at a good e/w price.
Antepost Advice – Red Sherlock 2pts win @12/1 Racebets