A great first day, most of all with the performance of the day by Footpad in the Arkle. Apple’s Jade was a surprising disappointment and Kalashnikov and Ms Parfois both went very close. Beware The Bear’s fourth in the Ultima topped up the profit on Footpad so I’m ahead leading into today’s racing.
1.30 Ballymore Hurdle
Embed from Getty ImagesWe start with the one that, for many, is the Irish banker of the week. There is nothing to fault about Samcro and both ground and distance should not inconvenience him. 8/11 is a betting price and I see no need to look beyond him.
Here he is winning easily in the Deloitte at the Dublin Racing Festival:
As At The Races said after that one “Seven from seven, and rampant winner of his biggest – time to believe the hype”.
I can’t have any of the others against him.
2.10 RSA Chase
Black Corton 7/1***
Embed from Getty ImagesBlack Corton has been a favourite of mine since very early in in the season and I’m not going to desert him now. He is a course and distance winner and graduated to the top level with his Grade 1 win in the Kauto Star Chase on Boxing Day, having won a Grade 2 in his previous outing at Newbury. His prep race in the Reynoldstown at Ascot only confirmed what we had seen before, also confirming his ability to handle soft ground.
Star conditional Bryony Frost and her “best mate” serial winner Black Corton are a lethal combination.
Here they are winning the Kauto Star Chase:
and the Reynoldstown:
Monalee and Presenting Percy are the obvious threats. Monalee is as hard as nails and both of them should be able to deal with the ground. It would be no surprise if either of them won but I’m drawn by the undoubted resolution of Black Corton and the price.
2.50 Coral Cup
Embed from Getty ImagesThis is one of the races that could very well see a long price winner but Max Dynamite is without doubt the class in the field. Like Wicklow Brave, notwithstanding his exploits on the flat (including third in the Melbourne Cup), he has winning form on soft (albeit a long time ago in a maiden hurdle) and his big field experience is a big plus. I think that Wicklow Brave is the better of the two in this discipline but this is much more winnable.
However, Max Dynamite’s performance coming third in the race that stops the nation, The Melbourne Cup, is mightily impressive:
Of the others my current shortlist is made up of Mount Mews (16/1), Barra (20/1), Bleu Berry (20/1) and Kildisart (currently a reserve at 40/1).
3.30 Champion Chase
Embed from Getty ImagesI’m convinced by those who know much better than me about these things that Altior will not be inconvenienced by the pus in his foot a couple of days ago. On that basis I’m reverting to him as the strong selection.
Douvan would be at least his equal on his best form but after a year off, with no prep and with doubts about his participation he must be running here more in hope than expectation.
There is value in Politologue each way at 14/1. A commanding winner of the Tingle Creek and the Desert Orchid Chase, this one is an obvious candidate.
4.10 Cross Country Chase
Cause of Causes***
Embed from Getty ImagesPeople have knocked this race since it was introduced and I see that gobby controversialist Mark Winstanley, aka “The Couch”, called it The Circus Race a couple of days ago. Anyone who understands National Hunt racing (look at the banks racing and prevalence of cross country racing in France plus the Velka Pardubice in the Czech Republic, let alone hunting) will know that this was a long overdue addition to the Cheltenham Festival card in 2005. The international cross country series The Crystal Cup is offering prize money of 700,000 euros this year.
Enda Bolger had a well deserved stranglehold for years but this time round Gordon Elliott holds the main cards. As reported in a previous post Gordon was supposed to be all over Tiger Roll. However, I watched the Racing Post/Betfair preview on Saturday evening (when others were probably watching Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night or Pointless Celebrities) and there’s no doubt that he thinks that Cause of Causes will win. Of the others, I like Bless the Wings but he’s also trained by Gordon Elliott.
Cause of Causes seems to have been here for ever but is only a 10-y-o. He’s a Cheltenham specialist who frequently disappoints before coming to light here. This is more winnable than most of his other Cheltenham challenges and the current 5/2 is just fine.
I couldn’t resist giving you the French version of his win last year (sa quatrième succes à Cheltenham) <<I’l a pris l’avantage>> and a good mention for <<Bless Ze Wings>>:
4.50 Fred Winter Hurdle
Embed from Getty ImagesMitchouka is ideally placed here, having won four of seven hurdle races and tested at the highest level. Very appealing at 9/1.
Mercenaire is an interesting outsider at 25/1.
5.30 Champion Bumper
I selected Blackbow after watching his very taking win while at the Dublin Racing Festival and, with the defection of Hollowgraphic, I’m pleasantly surprised that he’s holding at 5/1.
Of the others, I’m not alone in thinking that Acey Milan, on a four-timer and with the 8lb swing for a four year old, presents serious opposition.
As always, I’ll wait for market moves and may well change my selection moments before the race.