5.00pm Looks like Ascot is going to be off but what a belter of a card at Haydock. Quality, depth, even more quality and please no fog! The Lucky 15 is over the weekend to take those two excellent coral.ie handicaps on a fascinating Leopardstown Sunday card. Paddy Power are already (11am) six places ( 1/5 odds ) on-line but expect shops to follow for the coral.ie hurdle on Sunday and with a 9/4 favourite in Heartbreak City that basically makes the rest of the field each way candidates!
If Ascot is off I will be most gutted to lose the last race, the 2m 5f novice hurdle which contains KIMBERLITE CANDY, REIGNING SUPREME, HEAD TO THE STARS, LASER LIGHT, NEON WOLF and SNEAKY FEELING. You could put all of them in your tracker!
Saturday Haydock 2.05 NEON WOLF 11/4 WH 5/2 general
Saturday Haydock 3.15 VINTAGE CLOUDS 10/1 general
Sunday Leopardstown 2.40 STELLAR NOTION 13/2 PP 6/1 general
Sunday Leopardstown 3.10 GOLDEN SPEAR 10/1 general
and here’s why
Haydock 2.05 NEON WOLF Do I want to take Elgin on under a penalty? Most certainly. His form just isn’t being franked for a Daryll Jacob ridden (hold me back!) horse to give upward of three pounds to his improving opponents. Moohayed is the obvious danger to turn the form round with elgin at the weights and the experience under his belt. Just couldn’t back a Skelton horse at the minute, too many disappointments with the exception of Three Musketeers! So it’s the tried and trusted Fry and Fehily for me and Neon Wolf. He’s won a PtP, a bumper and a C4 novice hurdle. This is a fair jump in grade but the dogs were barking before he saw a racecourse and although green he looked well above average when he won by three lengths at Exeter.
Saturday Haydock 3.15 VINTAGE CLOUDS Colin Tizzard saddles the talking horse, Alary, in this highly competitive Grade 2 3m Peter Marsh chase. Alary was top grade in France and cost a king’s ransom BUT he has won just two chases from thirteen and the 7yo son of Dream Well makes his English debut off a mark of OR162!! This isn’t Auteuil, he won’t find any bullfinch or brick walls just some big, black fences. The trainer has waxed lyrical about this horse from day one but Alary has a lot on his plate here. The first time tongue tie doesn’t bolster my confidence either.
However his presence in the handicap means some very solid handicap chasers are running off some very attractive weights. So much so I’m going for a horse that is six pounds out of the handicap! Vintage Clouds has the profile of a professional bridesmaid having been second on seven of his last completed races!! However he has frequently been giving weight away or simply running into the likes of Politologue! Three miles on Soft ground with no weight on his back are ideal. Once you get north of Birmingham the Sue Smith/ Danny Cook combination rule the roost in staying handicap chases and they are currently in the rudest of form.
Of the others Sausolito Sunrise is down in trip, Bristol de Mai is up in trip, Otago Trail is well treated on his Rehearsal chase win at Newcastle on which form he holds the improver Definitly Red.
Owner of Vintage Clouds Trevor Hemmings, Mr Blackpool, loves winners at his local track, Haydock. The reels are spinning but I can see five lemons lining up and I think Vintage Clouds is an excellent each way bet @ 10/1 with PP (1/5th 1,2,3,4).
Sue Smith ATR Stable Tour 10th Jan. 2017 “He has run very well in defeat this year and is a horse that wants three miles. He is a good jumper but just a little bit careful but he’s an exciting prospect and once the penny drops he is going to be a very nice horse. He probably goes for the Peter Marsh at Haydock next.”
Sunday Leopardstown 2.40 STELLAR NOTION This horse has everything going for him except he is owned by Roger Brookhouse! The man must spend his life dropping mirrors and walking under ladders? He spends a fortune at Brightwells buying ready-made Irish PtP winners and so far Western Warhouse has won an Arkle, a result still barely believable. It may help if he didn’t continually over-face his horses and then change trainer every ten minutes! However Stellar Notion ran a cracker when finishing fourth in the Paddy Power chase over three furlongs further here at Leopardstown during the Christmas Festival. He likes to be in the van throughout and if there is one man who could get the fractions right it is Grand National winning jockey, David Mullins. This is the third time he will have ridden this horse for Henry de Bromhead and he should know what he’s got. I think this 2m 5f is Stellar Notion’s best trip, the ground is spot on (not too heavy) and he’s running into form.
Clarcam has top weight for a reason and he could be simply too good for this field as well as being a fly in the ointment for the selection as he can race prominently. For the money on offer didn’t think this field had much depth.
At a well supported 6/1 let’s hope Stellar Notion can keep Roger Brookhouse out of the poor house!
Sunday Leopardstown 3.10 GOLDEN SPEAR This race revolves around Heartbreak City and his trainer Tony Martin. If Heartbreak City runs to the level of his two most recent runs on the Flat, winning the Ebor handicap at York and his remarkable second in the Melbourne Cup, he will be hard to beat off just 10stone with Donagh Myler’s three pounds claim. If Heartbreak City was to win he could be looking at a £100K bonus if winning the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival and he would need to win to get in that second leg. Trainer Tony Martin has a fifth of the field as he also saddles Gladiator King, Tudor City and Golden Spear. So why go against the jolly and why side with Golden Spear?
Firstly the price. I just couldn’t back a 9/4 shot in what is probably the most competitive two mile twenty runner hurdle run in Ireland this season. Secondly, he has won his last two hurdle races, in May and Galway Festival in July, off just OR109 and OR118, but hasn’t jumped a hurdle since, has won the toughest Flat handicap in Europe and been round the world to Melbourne and back. Surely not an ideal preparation for a handicap in January? Thirdly his improved Flat form over 1m 6f and 2m suggests 2m over hurdles may be on the sharp side, indeed I would have been much keener backing him over the 2m5f of the Coral Cup.
As Flat form goes Golden Spear isn’t far behind. He won the 12F Guinness premier handicap at the Galway Festival, the 15F Irish November premier handicap and was fifth in the British Cesarewitch. He also ran an excellent fourth five weeks ago in the Ladbroke hurdle in the fog at Ascot behind Brain Power, staying on strongly. I can’t think Denis O’Regan (winner at Chepstow today) has ridden to 10st 2lbs too often and hopefully it will be a case of fast and late!
Many of the other contenders ran behind the rapidly improving That’s a Wrap here at Leopardstown (2nd Veinard, 3rd After Rain, 5th Gladiator King, 12th Ice Cold Soul, 18th Light That) when Ruby Walsh came from way back, wide and fast as only he can! As is often the case it got messy on the bend turning for home as you run to the last and with a long run between the final two flights plays into the hands of a finisher with a turn of foot.
Willie Mullins has four of the six at the top of the weights and they would all have to produce a career best to win this. Ruby has chosen Allblak des Places but Cap D’Aubois may be the one to watch as Willie earmarked him for “handicaps” in his Stable Tours.
Regular readers of this correspondent know that my “cliff” horse is down to run. Will De Name Escapes Me actually jump a flight in anger? For over a year I’ve been banging on about this horse being really well handicapped but he keeps getting withdrawn, twice now on the morning of the race! If my memory serves me right DNEM was as low as 13/2 for this race last year and he has already halved in price from 33’s to 16’s for the 2017 version! Of course I have backed him, I had to, but it’s odds against you see him in the paddock on Sunday!
Summary – If Heartbreak City hacks up it would be no surprise but with Golden Spear at 10/1 (¼ odds 1,2,3,4) I would rather play him each way.
Now that’s what I call a pig of a day!! Hey ho, it’s Saturday tomorrow!
Musselburgh 12.50 PEPPAY LE PUGH 7/1 WH 6/1 general Fell 9/2JF
Well backed. Beaten turning for home. Jumping steadily deteriorated, tired fall at last!
Chepstow 2.10 BATTLE OF SHILOH 11/4 general Fell 11/4
Under the pump turning for home. Fell at the last ditch, four out.
Chepstow 3.20 DR ROBIN 9/1 WH 8/1 general Pulled Up 8/1
Prominent, one error, pulled up at halfway!!
Chepstow 3.50 EARLSHILL 13/8 general Pulled Up 9/4F
“Toiling”, end of back straight!