Well, here I am again after a summer break and looking forward to some decent jumps racing tomorrow.
First, I think that Channel 4 have got it right with the new team. Graham Cunningham and Gina Bryce are notably good appointments. I’m looking forward to what IMG Sports Media have said will be a “more journalistic approach”. By the way, this article about where the BBC coverage ended up with reference to a certain individual is well worth reading
So, I’m not at Aintree tomorrow but that has to be the starting point.
Cape Express is a confident selection in the first (1.50). Empire Levant turned out to be a disappointing horse and Nampour is the only other threat.
Big Fella Thanks has been unloaded by Ferdy Murphy and has had a big lay off so, in the moderate 2.25 chase, I’m with the 11-y-o Nikola, a winner of the equivalent race at Aintree last year and off bottom weight.
The 2.55 is a very basic chase (2m 4f) and could go to any of them. My preference is for Pasco with the jockey claiming 3lbs off top weight. I can’t resist commenting that Sizing Santiago is not exactly a well known member of the “Sizing team”!
The 3.25 (Old Roan Chase) is the big one (£37,018 to the winner) and I really don’t like the previous class horse Wishfull Thinking. This is a genuinely fascinating race in terms of the up and coming chasers. For Non Stop took the classic English novices’ route and disappointed and Noble Prince (a Montjeu horse) took the Irish equivalent, only to disappoint in the Ryanair. I’ll forgive him that and he’s my choice with Davy Russell on board to run away with this. For Facebook reasons only (!) I’ll be keeping an eye on Hectors Choice (not in the same league).
We should bypass the 4.00 (for Placepot purposes I’ll go with Global Fella because of the owner and trainer connections and no more than that).
The 4.35 features one of my very favourite horses, Carlito Brigante. I’ve followed this horse throughout his career and always missed the big odds wins. He’s been campaigned at the highest level over hurdles and I liked his last win in a beginners’ chase, albeit possibly a bit fortunate. I recall Gordon Elliott saying that he’d find a suitable novices’ chase for his next outing so I’m happy to agree with him. The obvious threat is Unioniste for the formidable Nicholls yard but his last AQPS win was no big deal and the previous form for Guillaume Macaire is not that impressive.
I was expecting to have moved on from Aintree by now but the last features a very interesting horse in the shape of Gevrey Chambertin. This David Pipe resident commands great respect from the owner (also the owner of Grands Crus) and is another Dom Alco horse. I suspect that this horse is lined up for great things so the current 4/7 is an absolute gift.
Most NH seasons I look back and think that I wish I’d picked up those horses when they were good value. With that in mind I approach the Chepstow card with enthusiasm.
It’s no surprise that Ruby Walsh is at Chepstow for Paul Nicholls’ good prospects (same as last year), so all declared runners deserve respect.
I’ll pick out a few. Throughout last season Nicholls obviously liked Deireadh Re (2.35) and I’m absolutely convinced that he’s a good product of Old Vic. His form tailed off last year but you wouldn’t be worried about that if his future is as a 3m chaser. Admitted he disappointed in a novices’ chase at Fakenham in May but I’m prepared to disregard that.
The Persian War Novices’ Hurdle (3.40) offers only just over £12,000 to the winner (for a Grade 2) but how often have you seen the winner in the mix in the Spring? I’m all over Wonderful Charm on his first outing for Nicholls after a highly creditable French campaign under the tutelage of Mlle Tatiana Puitg. Seems to me to be a very good find.
The Silver Trophy used to be a relatively high profile race but it’s now towards the end of an ATR card when I expect to be elsewhere. I have no strong feelings about any of the runners so it’s one that I’ll be passing on.
Ironically, the 4.50 Racing Post Form With Totepool Handicap Chase (also a Grade 2) over just over 2m has a much better field including some old favourites. I’m confidently with Tataniano notwithstanding the 371 days off.
You won’t be surprised that I’m passing on the 5.25 conditional jockeys’ handicap chase! I suggest going for whatever is 25/1.
So that’s my summary for tomorrow. Good luck!