Nicholls’ perfect ten
We have had some great racing this week and I have to start with the King George at Kempton. What drama.
Bristol De Mai fell and brought down Waiting Patiently when that horse looked to be going ok.
I got very excited when Thistlecrack hit the front but, with two to jump, I could see Clan Des Obeaux cantering in behind. And once again my words come back to haunt me as he was one I thought not good enough.
And just like Lisp last Saturday my selection was edged out by a horse backed by my dad. And of course he let me know. It was the tenth time Paul Nicholls has won the race but Clan Des Obeaux is only the fourth horse of his to win it.
His previous three winners all won it at least twice. Something to think about for next year.
What to take out of the race? Well the winner has run the race of his life and could still be improving. He is 7/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup and that looks fair in an open race.
Thistlecrack is also in the race at the moment but is also a possible for the Stayers Hurdle. He jumped a lot better at Kempton. I think the Ryanair is also in his scope if he can go the pace early.
Native River was staying on at the end and as I said in my preview I think the Gold Cup is more his race.
Politologue ran ok but I don’t think he saw the trip out. He did make a mistake down the back but he is a classy horse. I can’t see him laying a glove on Altior in the Queen Mother so the Ryanair has to be considered.
Might Bite came home with a bloody nose so may have some excuse but he was never really a factor here or at Haydock. I don’t think many will be rushing to back him for Cheltenham even at a double figure price.
Bristol De Mai and Waiting Patiently are hard to assess and both will surely need a run in January before decisions are made.
Presenting Percy saw his Gold Cup odds cut even though he will not be running this week, but the form of his RSA win last March was enhanced by Elegant Escape, third that day, winning the Welsh Grand National.
Far too good
Altior was, again, far too good for his rivals, coming home nineteen lengths clear. He is now 1/2 for the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Footpad, beaten this week, next best at 7/1.
It would take a very brave person to back against the best chaser around.
I did like the performance of La Bague Au Roi. She jumped really well and, when she was passed by Topofthegame, she fought back. That kind of attitude will come in handy at Cheltenham in the RSA should she take her place in the line up.
The runner up looks decent too. Santini was third but is thought to have a better chance in the RSA as he was staying on well at Kempton. Also no horse has won the Feltham and the RSA so the stats are against La Bague Au Roi. It could be a very good renewal.
On to this weekend and the Mandarin Chase brings with it a rich history. Mill House, Master Smudge, Night Nurse, Jodami and Party Politics are previous winners and ten horses bid to join the list.
Reikers Island is the favourite after his six length win at Wincanton on only his second chase start. He is up thirteen pounds for that success but he is likely to come on again for that run.
Aurillac has not run since March last year when pulled up in the RSA. He has had wind surgery and a new stable. He is pretty short priced for such an absence so there must be confidence somewhere.
Sandy Beach won on his first start after wind surgery. Up 8lbs he is another with a chance and Vice Et Virtu has been running well lately. But I like BALLYDINE. He was fifth behind Lake View Lad on his first start since February and that horse went in again this week.
Ballydine is a pound lower for that performance and only two pounds higher than when winning on his final start last season.
The Challow Hurdle is the “quality” race as it is a Grade One and Champ sets the standard. He is 3-4 over hurdles and his win last time out over course and distance sets him apart.
He would be giving away seven pounds or more if this were a handicap. Hey may well bolt up again but I am going to risk a few pennies each way on KATESON.
He is also a course and distance winner and is unbeaten over hurdles. May be better than bare form of his last time out win.
Spot on for this
Samcro and Melon take each other on in the Ryanair Hurdle at Leopardstown and the bookies have them close. Both fell in the Irish Champion Hurdle which SUPASUNDAE won and I still think he has a chance.
He was twenty lengths behind Apples’ Jade on his seasonal reappearance and should be spot on for this.
I am hoping the last Saturday of the year enables me to end 2018 with a bang.
Happy New Year all. May 2019 bring you health, wealth, and happiness.