It’s been a while since the last blog posting and a highly successful time on the Grand National.
Work commitments have prevented me from more posts this year but I hope to be back again for the two main events – Cheltenham and Aintree in 2017.
In the meantime there are a couple of opportunities coming our way over the Christmas period that seem worthy of a post. Hopefully they can add some further merriment over the Festive period!
They are two horses who have been subject to what I can only deem as ‘considerate’ rides last time out and look to have targets specifically in mind in coming weeks
WELSH GRAND NATIONAL, Chepstow, Dec 27th
Native River and Caroles Destrier head the betting here after their 1-2 in the Hennessy in November. Both are ‘well in’ on that effort but I’ve never considered the Hennessy to be the best trial for this race as it’s hard race that takes some getting over.
Despite what seems an attractive mark Native River will have to shoulder top weight of 11st 12lbs here. In a race that is normally run on soft ground, lower weights are usually favoured and it takes a performance worthy of a possible Gold Cup winner to triumph with such a burden. (Synchronised managed it recently but carried 6lbs less). Even more so for Native River as he’s only a 6 year old this could be a monumental task. Connections have already wisely stated that he may not run if conditions are too soft.
Caroles Destrier is also nicely treated on his Newbury effort and will shoulder a lower weight. This is race where previous course form can be very important though. It has to be concerning that he was pulled up here when favourite on his last visit to the chase course.
The selection is last year’s second Firebird Flyer who went on to win another top staying handicap the Midlands Grand National at the end of last season. (Aforementioned Synchronised won the same race the season before)
On his reappearance he travelled very well at the rear of the field until lack of a recent run told and he couldn’t match Three Faces West in the home straight at Haydock. That winner certainly advertised the form with a convincing win in higher grade at Newbury today (14th Dec)
The overwhelming impression was that Firebird Flyer was being ridden with another race in mind and was not given hard time at all once he couldn’t win that day. Given he was second here last year and his trainer is Welsh, it’s not hard to predict what that target is. Whilst he hasn’t won at the course he’s performed well here more than once so meets my criteria of having previous good course form
25/1 was available straight after that race but 16/1 is still attractive now in my eyes – and the more it rains the better. He has the right sort of weight here on 10st 8lbs currently (will stay on this unless Native River pulls out)
As there is a 20 runner limit on the race and he is number 31 we have to hope that 11 drop out between now and then. There are enough above him who look to have other targets for me to think that he will get into the race however.
Further down the weights, Warrantor would be of interest after his excellent reappearance run at Cheltenham. However he is number 53 in the list and will require a lot more luck with withdrawals to be lining up on the 27th
1.5pts EW FIREBIRD FLYER @16/1
Generally available – check here for who offers what: http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/ante-post-racing/national-hunt/welsh-grand-national/winner
LEXUS CHASE, Leopardstown, Dec 28th
A competitive field for this top quality chase are price up currently but I was very surprised when FINE RIGHTLY opened up right at the bottom of the odds at 100/1 a couple of weeks ago.
This race has been his stated aim as far as I am aware and after a reappearance run over hurdles that was obviously needed, this one took on the mighty Douvan at Cork last weekend.
He was never likely to win that but travelled as well as the Mullins runner down the back straight while others flagged. When Douvan increased the tempo, Fine Rightly could have been urged on a bit more but his rider stayed very quiet and this probably cost him second place as the more aggressively ridden Days Hotel went past over the last.
That race was over a much shorter trip than would be ideal and it clearly looked like it was being used as a trial. Fine Rightly has already proved he is up this level when 3rd in the Irish Gold Cup in February. He would have been 4th that day if Valseur Lido (likely fav here) had stood up at the last but there are grounds for thinking he would have been closer. He travelled as well as anything down the back straight but crucially made a couple of mistakes as the race hotted up that got him further behind than ideal.
While Fine Rightly likes soft ground it was especially gruelling conditions that day and the effort of getting back on terms probably then caught him out on the run in from getting closer.
He beat Gilgamboa convincingly that day and there’s no reason to think that one would have beaten him last weekend even before he was brought down. Why Fine Rightly is available at 6 or 7 times the price of that rival for this race then is fairly baffling. The 100/1 was clipped by most earlier this week but is still available in a place
This will be a strong race but I can’t have my selection as a rank outsider as some books suggest and have to advise a nibble each way at very big odds (there are plenty lower down the lists that I’m sure won’t be turning up)
0.5 pts EW FINE RIGHTLY – take 100/1 with Betway if you can but 66/1 still advisable elsewhere
Prices can be found here: http://www.oddschecker.com/horse-racing/ante-post-racing/national-hunt/lexus-chase/winner
Thanks for reading. Happy Christmas and good luck to all!