In today’s blog:-
The master horseman Nigel Twiston-Davies (NTD) continued his terrific form yesterday, producing Major Malarkey to win off a 573-day break at Chepstow from a field of race-fit rivals. It reminded me of the win by Jump Jet about this time last year who he produced to win by 17-lengths off a 532-day break (beating the progressive Sound Stage), but he was unable to conjure up a similar performance from the horse in 6 subsequent races. The blog selection JUSTABOUT was unable to cope with the soft going (changed from good-to-soft due to sustained rain for over an hour before the race). In the circumstances (I couldn’t predict the going change when I wrote the blog in the morning) as JUSTABOUT has never shown any form in 4 runs on soft going, I am going to give the horse one last chance – but only on good going and over less than 3-mile.
That means the blog is now 4pts down for November.
The other horses mentioned on the blog did no better than the selection, tho’ PAVILLON BLEU was trying a trip that looked beyond his proven stamina and he was a gallant 2nd. SHADOW DANCER never got a look-in (I would expect the 5yo to revert to hurdles soon), but I was right that the fav Dan Breen wasn’t an “evens” chance – he actually started odds-on at 4/5 – and he finished 2nd.
There are jump meetings at Haydock and Towcester today.
Heavy rain forecast at Haydock and, with the ground already good-to-soft in places, it may be best to wait until closer to the race-times before making your selections there today. The 3-mile h’cap chase could turn into a real slog and you will need one that stays this trip and can handle rain-sodden going. Several are in with chances; DARK BEN who comes to hand early and won on his seasonal debut last November, is one. Ernst Blofeld and Maktu are both in with real chances on the formbook and I expect Jason Maguire will be looking for a winning return on Ernst Blofeld. But I think the weight they are both giving to DARK BEN may tell today.
GIFTED LEADER should have won more than one hurdle race last season. He’s on a fair mark of OR122 and should be fit for his trip to Aintree last week. Today’s 2-mile will suit, as will rain when it comes. Throw-in the talented Dougie Costello and we have the makings of a wager.
BORN AGAIN was a horse I noted last season who never seemed to stop improving. He was going well in his Festival race till a mistake put paid to his chances, and now he’s novice chasing. I’m hoping he’ll have learnt a lot from his debut run to make an impression here.
The finishing hill at Towcester is the graveyard of punters hopes. Many a leader at the final fence has been caught on the run-in, so ability to stay the trip (and more) is to be held at a premium. Jonjo O’Neill has a tremendous strike-rate in chases here (20 wins from 59 runners, or 34%) and he has two chasers running today; AZTEC TREASURE and FOXESBOW, both in the 3-mile chase at 2:20. I’ve never thought Foxesbow stayed 3-mile, but Aztec Treasure looks harshly-treated on OR92 as well. Looking thru’ this field, there are some dodgy characters and my eye is caught by SIR PETER. He’s not won a chase in 6 attempts, but he’s been held-back by his debut chase run when 3rd after which he was rated OR108. Now down to OR95 he looks fairly treated, and we know he stays 3-mile on soft/heavy as he beat Quattrocento at Exeter over hurdles in March-08. He appears to be a solid enough jumper who could grind out a win today. The only downside are the odds; just 5/1 (with Ladbrokes) and I would want more than 7’s for this race at least.
When you are having a poor run of wagers you can either rein-in the stakes, or double-up selections in a race, or just take a back-seat. Of the races and horse I’ve looked at, GIFTED LEADER has for me the most potential and looks the most fairly treated and today may be the day to catch him. At 6/1 he looks a fair proposition, but with money coming for Laredo Sound (who I think will want another half-mile to show his best form) you may get 7’s or more.
Haydock 2:40 GIFTED LEADER, ½pt eachway @ 6/1 (various, best odds guaranteed)
Current monthly points total = (-4.00pts)
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