Hello all. Welcome to the first column of 2018. Hopefully it will be the year I finally win enough to retire (or at least go part time). But my equine friends need to be a bit more cooperative and run a bit faster and jump a bit higher.
So what are we looking forward to? A quick look at the ante post markets for the Classics sees a certain AP O’Brien dominating. He did win four out of the five in 2017 but of those only Churchill was strongly fancied at this stage. This time last year Wings Of Eagles had won just a maiden and had lost three races by an aggregate of twenty lengths and Enable, who had a decent season, had only run once, albeit a winning one.
Obviously the likes of Saxon Warrior and Clemmie have the form in the book but it is a long way to May. For what it’s worth I think Expert Eye’s run in the Dewhurst was too bad to be true. He was very keen so hopefully as he grows up he will calm down. His win at Goodwood was pretty good wasn’t it?
As for the fillies you must all now be almost comatose from listening to me banging on about September. She was very close to being a dual Group One winner. She had no luck in the Fillies Mile (beaten a nose) and broke badly in the Breeders Cup and had to come wide to challenge. I said after her Chesham win that she looked an Oaks filly. I stand by that. But she seems to want good ground or better.
Enable will obviously be the main attraction. It is wonderful that she stays in training. I don’t think she will be facing Winx even if the Aussie superstar does come over. Enable is unlikely to drop to a mile and Winx could not last against our queen over further as Frankie would turn the taps on very early I think.
The sprint division looks exciting with Harry Angel and Battaash staying in training. They have been running over different distances but maybe they will meet somewhere. Is there a five and a half furlong race somewhere?
Before that we have Cheltenham of course and if you believe the layers, the likes of Footpad, Samcro, and Buveur D’Air only have to turn up to win. Apples Jade is also a short price for the Mares Hurdle. I am with Nick Segal (Pricewise) who thinks that this horse should go for the Stayers Hurdle. She is very classy and gets 7lbs from the boys. Obviously she is closely matched with Supasundae but my gut says she is better than she showed over Christmas. Racing Post Ratings have her a few pounds below her best whereas the runner up ran to his best. And as a newly turned six year old she could still be improving.
The last tips of 2017 left us with a bad end to the year so I am looking to hit the ground running in 2018.
The going at Chepstow is heavy so the winner of the Welsh Grand National will have to really stay. Chase The Spud beat Mysteree in the Midlands National and those two are at the head of the betting. Mysteree is nearly a stone better off with the winner but he hasn’t run since the Uttoxeter race. I wouldn’t put you off either and I also think Wild West Wind is a possible, but I am a greedy bugger as you know so I will look for something at bigger odds.
Emperors Choice won this in 2014 off 131. He is on 128 and did win last time out. But that was only a week ago. He is now eleven years old so he would need to have some recovery powers to feature here. But he likes a slog.
Dual Scottish National winner Vicente was sixth here last year and is weighted up to the hilt. I just think he is better in the spring.
Raz De Maree is, in horsey years, almost ready to collect his pension. But he was runner up in this race twelve months ago and is only a pound higher. The going may not be to his liking.
Pobbles Bay will have his supporters as he is trained by the in form Evan Williams but I do like the chance of BISHOPS ROAD. He has form on heavy ground and ran a fair race here last year from a mark ten pounds higher than he has today. He was beaten last time out over an inadequate trip by Beware The Bear, who is fancied for this. Our selection is 4lb better off with that horse for a two length defeat. Obviously it is not as simple as expecting them to finish closer this time but I am happy to cheer on Kerry Lee’s runner. Having Jamie Moore riding is no negative.
The last three winners of the Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown have been L’ami Serge, Yorkhill, and Finians Oscar. Western Ryder is the favourite for this and SHOULD win. But we have all been there before. I will watch with interest but won’t be getting involved.
A more interesting race for me is the veterans race at 3:00. A few of our old favourites are there such as Double Ross, Cloudy Too, Third Intention and Theatrical Star. PERFECT CANDIDATE has top weight but his win last time out reads well. He tends to very good or very ordinary. And the ground is a worry but he is top weight for a reason and I will take a chance.
A leading trainer was given an eye test and was presented with a new pair of glasses. The optician said they would cost £200. “Too much!” cried the trainer. “They’re bi-focal” said the optician. “I don’t care if they’re by Frankel. It’s still too much.
Have a good week all.