The idea of Ten for the Tracker is to identify some horses that may visit the winners enclosure between now and the end of the Punchestown Festival in April. Probably in handicaps, hopefully at a tasty price. The big hitting owners want winners at the Festivals and I’ll start with the Daddy of them all, JP McManus and his ubiquitous green and gold hooped silks and you are getting nineteen not ten!!
Regular Festival Goers
CARLINGFORD LOUGH OR166ch OK he’s an 11yo now but he has won the Irish Gold Cup at Leopardstown in February for the last two years and was fourth in last March’s Gold Cup then rocked up and won the Punchestown Gold Cup. Fri. 16th Dec. “”Hopefully he’ll be back for the Irish Gold Cup,” Kiely told At The Races. “I don’t imagine he’ll go to Cheltenham. Frank (Berry, the owner’s racing manager) will decide, but he doesn’t enjoy Cheltenham. We’ll keep him for Punchestown, maybe. He might be entered in the Grand National. We’ll see how he is at the time.”
CAUSE OF CAUSES OR148ch Seems to have been round for ages but still only a 9yo. Seventh in the Supreme in 2013, second in the Kim Muir in 2013 he has won at the last two Cheltenham Festivals, 4m NH Chase in 2015 and Kim Muir in 2016. Run dismally since last March and needs to come down another three pounds to get in the Kim Muir. However the 3m handicap on the Tuesday could be possible and every 3m+ staying chase from then to May!
IF IN DOUBT OR 153h 146ch Another who seems to have been round for ages but still only a 9yo. I am still in counselling after last year’s Pertemps final which would supposedly be his Cheltenham Festival target again although he isn’t yet qualified and Hobbs likes to use the February Exeter qualifier. His chase mark is tempting and I wonder if he’ll get an entry in the Skybet Chase at Doncaster he and Sir AP won a couple of years ago? Most likely chance of success is that 3m+ hurdle at the Aintree meeting.
GILGAMBOA OR159 139h You tell me! Last year he was 5th in the 2m 4f RyanAir at Cheltenham and 4th in the Grand National! Supposedly Edna Bolger’s 9yo will be aimed at Aintree again. Talented and deserves a big pot.
KITTEN ROCK OR148ch 160h Looking at those Official Ratings would suggest that Kitten rock has some scope over fences. Chasing record reads, won on debut, third to Shaneshill, 2nd to Zabana and fell at the third last when 9/2F for the 2m 4f Grade B Foxrock handicap chase at Navan when looking about to challenge. Kitten Rock has been to Cheltenham just once when beaten less than ten lengths by Faugheen in the Champion Hurdle. The Brown Advisory Plate would seem to be the fit this time around, if at all as he needs some cut in the ground. There is a Grade A 2m 4f handicap chase (Guinness Chase 2016) at the Punchestown Festival that could be also be a target.
PEOPLES PARK OR114h 130ch Here’s a job horse if ever I saw one. When he won a 2m 1f handicap chase at Fairyhouse off OR122 when 7/2F he missed out the fourth last but arrived at the second last pulling double. His next run was in the ultra-competitive Grade B 3m+ Paddy Power chase at the Leopardstown Christmas meeting where he took time to settle but still had every chance turning to face the last but didn’t get home. He has an entry in the 2m 5f Grade A coral.ie handicap chase at Leopardstown on Sunday 22nd January and if he got in he would have no weight! (Coral 16/1 PP 25/1)
LE PREZIEN OR146h 149ch Could fall between two stools in being behind the likes of Min, Altior, Yorkhill and Buveur d’Air in the Arkle and JLT and OR149 is too high for handicaps? Wouldn’t be surprised if he still went the Championship route where Aintree may be his best chance, over 2m 4f? Or could he have a go at the Grand Annual, fast run 2m in a race JP likes? Solid Grade 2/3 horse who could pop up in a big handicap. Haldon Gold Cup next season?
BLAZER OR142h 133ch Finished ninth in the 2m Betfair hurdle at Newbury when sent off 3/1F and fourth in the 2m 5f Coral Cup at Cheltenham when just 8/1. Always looked like he would be better over fences and he could easily deliver a big handicap pot probably over 2m 4f+. Cheltenham targets could be the Tuesday Novice handicap if they can keep his UK mark at OR140 or below, otherwise the Close Brothers Plate or back over hurdles in the Coral Cup? Seems to handle all sorts of ground and when he won his handicap hurdle at Leopardstown it was with consummate ease.
Ian Ogg of sportinglife.com pointed out “A good actioned horse who could well benefit from another crack on a faster surface, he may well be well handicapped come the spring and it remains a question of where he ends up. He was rated 141 at the last Cheltenham Festival and had an Irish mark of 135 prior to Saturday so should qualify for the novices’ handicap on the first day and that two mile five furlong trip looks ideal for a horse who may not have stayed three miles as well as the winner on his seasonal reappearance. The form of that race is solid as is the form of his weekend run and his Festival entries are going to make for fascinating reading.”
Often JP will be mob handed in the big handicap hurdles especially in Ireland and I’m no fan of Barry Geraghty. I believe his talent is on the wane, he makes too many wrong calls, before and during the race. He adopts too many positions in a race for me, I would much prefer either of the Walshes, Mark or Ruby, or the yards stable jockey.
CONSUL DE THAIX OR140h Here is a bomb primed and ready but where are they going to detonate? Consul de Thaix was tenth in last year’s Triumph and this season has twice finished a running on second to stable mate and current 12/1 shot for the Champion Hurdle, Brain Power. Those two races were Listed and Grade 3 handicaps and OR140 is a peach of a mark. If he was mine it would be Martin Pipe or County (16/1) at Cheltenham or even the Betfair at Newbury in February.
IVANOVICH GORBATOV OR150h Last season’s Triumph winner has since met with defeat six times, thrice behind Apple’s Jade but it does mean a recent Grade 1 has a mark that brings handicaps into play. He still has entries in the Irish and Cheltenham Champion hurdles and where he turns out next. Joseph O’Brien has tried 2m 4f twice but looked a non-stayer so really wants a Good ground 2m (County? 25/1) or perhaps G3 2m 4f handicap at Aintree?
AFTER RAIN OR127h Sent off 9/2F for last season’s coral.ie hurdle won by Henry Higgins in mid-January he was too keen early on to land the prize. He’s a plunge horse alright and seems to be running into a bit of form when coming from out of the clouds to be third to That’s a Wrap at Leopardstown. He usually wears a hood but if you can switch him off and hold him up he’s a player. Love to see Mark Walsh back in the saddle.
THAT’S A WRAP OR127h Under the watchful eye of trainer Thomas Mullins it’s three runs this season, three handicap hurdle wins and this highly progressive son of Scorpion has risen from OR100 to his current mark. Has he peaked yet? His last win was in a 12K euros handicap at Leopardstown when Ruby Walsh (replacing an injured Mark Walsh) had three behind him turning in to face the last but they rattled home (closely followed through by After Rain) and won by a comfortable half-length. I certainly wouldn’t be afraid to back him off his current mark especially if he returns to Leopardstown for the coral.ie hurdle on Sunday January 22nd (12/1 PP) with Mark Walsh in the saddle.
STRETCHINGTHETRUTH OR123h Won his Irish PtP, his bumper and a 2m Punchestown maiden hurdle before meeting his first defeat in the Grade 3 2m 4f Monksfield hurdle at Navan behind Death Duty. He was sent off 7/2F on handicapping debut at Leopardstown but was eighth behind another JP owned runner, Exactoris. JJ Slevin rode the winner, Geraghty rode Stretchingthetruth! Could have jumped better but Geraghty got in a pocket on the inside turning for home and when he did get in the clear the race was gone. Possibility a fast run 2m may suit better than the 2m 4f he tried here. Likely to do better when over further with a fence but every chance he could pick up a decent handicap on the way with either Sean Flanagan or Mark Walsh riding.
BRELAN D’AS OR141h JP has put this 225K euros Arqana purchase into training with Paul Nicholls. Odd debut for yard in February 2016. On heavy ground, wore hood, tanked through first half of race with head almost on the ground, hampered at the third, found nothing and was beaten before turning for home and was pulled up at the top of the home straight. Reappeared nine months later in a C3 2m 4f handicap hurdle on Good ground off OR130 with a first time tongue tie and the hood and with young Harry Cobden claiming 3lbs despite paddling the last he hacked up! Paul Nicholls said in his RP stable tour “Had winning form in France but ran a deplorable race on his only outing for us in February. He hadn’t acclimatised so we sent him home. You’ll see a different animal this season and he’ll have one run over hurdles before going chasing.” He was right but let’s hope he has a change of mind about chasing because despite going up 14lbs to 144he would be pretty close to top of my Coral Cup shortlist.
FOR GOOD MEASURE OR138h Had three runs this season,242, all at Cheltenham running second twice over three miles and is now qualified for the Pertemps final on a mark that just about guarantees a run. No surprise he is towards the head of the market (16/1) and has to be on your shortlist.
SIR SCORPION OR131h (Irish) Trained by Thomas Mullins who is having a fantastic season with his handicappers, mainly in the green and Gold! Progressive, despite being eight years old, Sir Scorpion was in the process of running into at least a place in a Grade A 2m handicap hurdle at Fairyhouse when brought down at the last by the fall of Campeador, also in JP’s colours but becoming a serial final flight faller who has gone up 7lbs for coming to grief twice! Sir Scorpion is effective on ground from Good to Soft but probably not heavy and from 2m to 2m4f, indeed the better the ground the more likely he’ll need further.
MOVEWITHTHETIMES OR136 78K euros son of Presenting won his bumper at Wincanton, a C4 novice hurdle at Fontwell and stepped up to a G2 at Cheltenham where he looked an unlucky in running fifth to current Supreme hurdle favourite Moon Racer. Bullish in looks, tanked through the race, jumped excellently, every chance going to the last when murdered by Ballyandy. Then won an eighteen runner Wincanton novice hurdle giving six pounds to his rivals. Travelled, jumped for fun and quickened from the last. After Cheltenham I thought he could be a Betfair (Schweppes to most) candidate. Good news is he is entered, the bad news is that Paddy Power, first to price up, have made him 10/1 clear favourite. Like this fella!
LIFT THE LATCH OR141 7yo son of Beneficial with Tony Martin who has had just the five starts. Won a PtP in 2014 then not seen again until the start of last year when he won a maiden hurdle by six lengths and a novice hurdle by six lengths. Then stepped up to G2 he was 2/1F but finished 5th to Acapella Bourgeois and his last run was a fourth in a G1 behind Jer’s Girl. Can’t wait to see Mr Martin’s plans for Lift the Latch.
DRUMCLIFF OR127 Really surprised to be including this horse as two runs ago I had decided he was not totally genuine. However three things have changed. Firstly his form has really started to stack up. He beat Capitaine on bumper debut, Mr McGo won again etc. Secondly on his last run and handicap debut off OR123 he was a solid second in a C3, has gone up just 4lbs and further may bring some improvement. Thirdly Harry’s Fry horses in better form. Tread carefully!
Now pop them in your tracker.
If you are not used to trackers may I recommend gg.co.uk. Find their site, register with email, click on alert, find horse, copy and paste note from blog and hey presto you’ll get an email every time it’s due to run and with gg.co.uk your note comes as well!