Brain gets ahead
It wasn’t to be for The New One as he was pulled up at Cheltenham and immediately retired. But a not so new kid arrived on the block. Brain Power won the International and may well go for the Champion Hurdle next March. I am not saying he will win it (although in racing nothing is certain) but he is not without a chance of making the frame.
He obviously feels more at home over hurdles than he does over fences and he should improve for this run.
Frodon was brilliant in the big chase. He carried a huge weight and his next step will surely see him in graded races. The Ryanair has been mentioned and he will make them all go from flag fall.
A slight profit for me with two places and a non runner from my three selections. So hopefully a good portent for the Christmas period. And that starts with Ascot this Saturday.
This is a meeting I am familiar with having visited the course a few times in December in past years. Obviously 2003, was memorable from a punting point of view. But the memories of the home made mince pies and hot chocolate still warm me.
Quality and quantity
That was the only time I have collected on the winner of the big handicap hurdle and that was thanks to my nine year old son picking the winner. Brain Power won the race two years ago so there has been quality as well as quantity.
Jollys Cracked It dead heated for first in this race in 2015. He was then off for a year before being well beaten behind Brain Power in the same race. Went missing for almost two years before a victorious comeback at Ascot last month. Has to be considered.
Western Ryder was third last Saturday in the International and a repeat of that could see him go close. Fiesole runs for his new trainer Olly Murphy for the first time and has a hefty mark on what he has done so far in my view. Could be an improver though.
Mr Antolini has only finished out of the first two once for Nigel Twiston-Davies and that was over further than this trip. He won the Imperial Cup off 130 and is eleven pounds higher here but his profile is upward. Flying Tiger and Mohaayed are two outsiders who could run big races. The former has been chasing so is off a decent mark back over hurdles if he can run to old form.
Fidux has won both his starts this season and was impressive over course and distance last time out. He has been raised 10lbs but he could cope with that. He is trained by Alan King and another runner from Barbury Castle is LISP. Only out of the frame once over hurdles when falling in the Fred Winter in March. He was second in the Gerry Fielden three weeks ago, a career best run on figures, and as he is still only four he has any amount of improvement in him.
I had to pick two in this because I cannot leave out NIETZSCHE. He won the Greatwood Hurdle ahead of the likes of Silver Streak, Western Ryder and Old Guard. Yes he was receiving a ton of weight but he has only been raised 6lbs.
In this race last year he was thirteen lengths behind the winner but would have surely been closer but for a mistake three out. That was off a mark three pounds higher than this year. Each way chances for both selections.
He could reverse the form
In the Silver Cup Handicap Chase Gold Present bids to win the race for the second year. He beat some horse called Frodon last season. He is five pounds higher this term but did run well when third in the Grade Two 1965 Chase won by Politologue last month.
Six lengths further back was BENATAR and I think it is entirely possible he could reverse form on only two pounds better terms. Obviously there are others with chances. Thomas Patrick was well backed for the Ladbroke Trophy and Full Glass is decent.
Call Me Lord has a favourites chance in the Long Walk Hurdle but I am going to hope PAISLEY PARK improves enough to get involved.
I will be penning a few words of preview for the big Christmas meetings hopefully by Christmas Eve.
I would like to finish by wishing you all a very Merry Christmas.