There was some great racing over the weekend, much of it on Saturday.
There was no way that you could not be impressed by the performance of IMPERIAL COMMANDER at Haydock. The holder of the Gold Cup looked immense. He never looked as tho’ he broke out of a canter – which, considering that he had Nacarat off the bridle 4-out, is almost unbelievable. He was 30lbs ahead of 2nd-fav What A Friend (thru’ Denman: Hennessey GC, 24lbs plus Gold Cup ’10, 6lbs) and maybe that was a simplistic way of looking at the form – but they were the facts leading into the race. Why the SP was as long as 10/11 is beyond me, as I had the “Commander” at 2/5 with the next best at 6’s. When Kauto Star started the last Gold Cup, he was the 8/11 fav, and this performance from IMPERIAL COMMANDER was as good as anything that Kauto has done. So, current odds of 9/2 look more than value for the 2011 Gold Cup, and it doesn’t matter what happens at Kempton on Boxing Day as we know the horse can bounce back with a superlative performance come the Gold Cup.
That was one leg of my double on Saturday; the other leg was not so good. ZAYNAR never looked happy throughout the race, and I noted Geraghty giving the horse a reminder after only a couple of flights. Altho’ talented, I now think the horse cannot be relied upon to do his utmost over hurdles. I’ll take nothing away from the winner, the 4yo SILVINIACO CONTI who looks a great prospect. Ratings are always subject to opinion and I have a lot of respect for the RP ratings. But I cannot consider the laboured performance of Zaynar on Saturday to be an equal of his impressive win in last year’s race, nor of his 3rd in the 2010 Champion Hurdle – this was well off that. Similarly, I do not think that the 3rd horse Restless Harry has ‘out-of-the-blue’ run 11lb better than anything he’s done previously. As such, I don’t rate the winners’ performance as high as RPR, but I do have him on 160+, and that makes the Champion Hurdle even more intriguing. The Festival next March is already eagerly anticipated!
Of the other racing, from my alert list PALYPSO DE CREEK put in a short one before going down when the 5/2 fav for his race at Haydock. Let’s hope his confidence isn’t damaged. Also at Haydock, CLERKS CHOICE ran a stinker considering he looked to hold such an advantage on the ratings, and he now has a serious question to answer (as does the handicapper who rated him OR162).
Back at Ascot, two-time Champion Chase winner MASTER MINDED returned to his best and had this talented field under the cosh a long way out, forcing jumping errors out of Albertas Run who tried to match strides with him till he went down 3-out. In form like this MASTER MINDED is unbeatable and if he could be guaranteed to show the same next March, then the current odds of 3/1 would be a gift – but he’s spat the dummy out before, and he’s one to bet in-running after the 1st-fence next March.
Paul Nicholls sent out 4 winners from 8 runners on Saturday, his final winner coming with Woolcombe Folly at Ascot, for which the change in running-style (covered up early) brought about a marked improvement in form. I was taken with the proximity of CONSIGLIERE who needed his seasonal return last autumn. I also thought that alert horse PICKAMUS ran extremely well till blowing-up approaching 2-out and he looked in need of this race. A return to 20f should see him in the winners enclosure.
Aintree on Sunday saw races over the National course and I was surprised to see Frankie Figg allowed to go off at 10/1 when he was 6/1 in the same race last year which was a stronger renewal than this. So long as he could keep his jumping together this bold front-runner was in with a chance, and so it proved.
That makes blog selections for the month as follows:-
1st November: FREE WORLD, 2pts win, 2nd @ 3/1 - 2pts lost
2nd November: VAMIZI, 1pt win, 3rd @ 100/30 - 1pt lost
3rd November: JUSTABOUT, 1pt win, unplaced @ 9/2 – 1pt lost
4th November: GIFTED LEADER, ½pt eachway, 2nd @ 6/1 – 0.10pts profit
10th November: BUFFALO BOB, ½pt eachway, 2nd @ 13/2 – 0.15pts profit
11th November: MIDNIGHT HAZE, 1pt win, WON @ 9/2 – 4.50pts profit
11th November: JUSTABOUT, 1pt win, WON @ 7/2 – 3.50pts profit
13th November: MAD MAX, 1pt eachway, 4th @ 9/1 – 1.25pts profit
13th November: FINGERONTHEPULSE, ½pt eachway, u/p @ 22/1 – 1pt lost
16th November: PLEIN POUVIOR, 1pt win, unplaced @ 9/2 = 1pt lost
19th November: LE BURF, ½pt win, 3rd @ 6/1 – 0.50pts lost
20th November: IMPERIAL COMMANDER and ZAYNAR, 1pt win double = 1pt lost
November running total = 2.00pts profit (14pts staked, 14.29%ROI)
No racing selections today
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