The 366th edition of the Wayward Lad blog.
For the last jumps season 2010-11, I produced a “Horse Alert List” identifying 19 horses to form the basis for an alert list for the season, and the results of that alert list are still available on the blog (see adjacent page). Of the 19 selected horses on the list, 3 did not run all season (Ebadiyan died in December 2010, Kalellshan has not been seen since winning at the Galway Festival of 2010, and Going Wrong finally reappeared in a novice chase last week). The other 16 horses ran a total of 63 times between 1st November 2010 and Sunday 10th April 2011 (the day after Grand National day) winning 10 races between them. What was remarkable about the list was that after Absolute Shambles lost on 1st February, the list was losing 53.25pts to recommended stakes (if 4/1 or under, 2pts win; over 4/1, 1pt eachway); but between then and close-of-play on Grand National day, the list recovered 35.125pts at SP.
There were mistakes and lessons learned from the list; Free World (ran 4, lost 4), Pickamus (ran 6, lost 6) and Cesium (ran 4, lost 4) were clearly badly handicapped and they may be worth taking a look at this season. Others, like Mont Present (ran once) Weird Al (ran 3, won 1, injured LTO), Gentle Ranger (ran 4, 4th in Midlands National), Midnight Haze (ran 3, won 1) and Rapid Increase (ran 3, won 1) still have a lot of potential. I am a bit gutted that I did not run the list from 1st November 2010 to 31st October 2011, as the summer hat-trick by ABSOLUTE SHAMBLES (won at 25/1, 8/1 and 5/2) would surely have taken the list into profit for the season!
That introduction brings me to suggesting 3 horses to follow for the 2011-12 Jumps season, and they are:-
FLAT OUT – Willie Mullins unexposed 2nd-season chaser was last seen leading the Irish “Arkle” field into the 2nd-last fence and looking fully in command. That field included REALT DUBH (subsequently 3rd in the “Arkle” at the Festival to Captain Chris) and NOBLE PRINCE (won the Jewson Novice Chase over 2m5f at the Festival). It should be remembered that FLAT OUT was 5th in the Supreme Novices Hurdle in what was only his 2nd hurdle race; the 1st four finishers being Menorah, Get Me Out Of Here, Dunguib, and Oscar Whisky; that was some performance and this has turned-out to be spectacular form!
Currently, FLAT OUT is rated on a very lenient handicap chasing mark of OR146 (Realt Dubh is now on OR157, and Noble Prince is on OR160). Mullins has him entered for the Paddy Power at Cheltenham next month, for which his odds are currently at 14/1. Myself, I would not be surprised to see this horse follow a similar path to that of Exotic Dancer in 2006/07, mopping-up top handicaps en-route to a Festival appearance.
GHIZAO- Paul Nicholls targeted this horse at the “Arkle” very early in the 2010-11 season. His win at Cheltenham in November 2010 was in a fast time and he had subsequent Arkle winner Captain Chris well behind him that day. They met again at Newbury, and again (despite a 10lb penalty) GHIZAO put Captain Chris in his place. They next met in the “Arkle” itself and, as a vocal supporter of GHIZAO from that November race, he was carrying one of my larger wagers. It went wrong when at the top o’the hill, GHIZAO took-off half-a-stride too soon causing his lower abdomen to land on top of the fence. That mistake knocked the stuffing from him and he coasted thereon to the finish. He was next seen at Aintree where he met Finians Rainbow (2nd in the Arkle btn 2¾ lengths) at levels and, but for colliding with that horse at the 2nd-last and coming-off worst, he may well have won. Clearly, Captain Chris was a better horse in the Spring than he was in the previous autumn, but whether he is better than GHIZAO (should the latter get a clear round) is debateable. Paul Nicholls has already pencilled in races like the Tingle Creek en-route to taking-in the Queen Mother Champion Chase next March, and I reckon he will prove worthy. Currently 20/1 for the QMCC, he’s due to start this campaign in the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter on 1st November and we should see an improvement in his jumping.
My final horse of the 3 took a lot of deliberation. Having already nominated an Irish horse in FLAT OUT, I wanted to include another trained on this side of the Irish Sea. The Irish, going into the 2011-12 season, have perhaps their strongest “squad” for many a year; Noble Prince, Bostons Angel, and Hurricane Fly are just the tip of an iceberg of talent. Given the furore over the revised “whip” rules that is causing consternation amongst jockeys and punters, the horses that seem best-placed to benefit are those that love to bowl-along in front running & jumping for the pleasure of it and so requiring the minimum use of the whip. As such, my final choice for my 3-to-Follow is:-
WISHFUL THINKING trained by Phil Hobbs. Altho’ he was well-held by Noble Prince in the “Jewson” at the Festival, his two subsequent victories at Aintree and Punchestown showed him to be thoroughly top-class. This was especially so the way he put Medermit to the sword at Aintree. Given his style of running, a possible excuse for his defeat at the hands of Noble Prince was that he went-off too fast on ground that was probably too quick for him. Remember, he failed to act on similar going at Aintree in April 2010 and when the word “soft” appears in the going description he has won 5 from 7 (2nd on his debut NH Flat race, and fell at the 1st fence on his novice chase debut). Altho’ he has never run beyond 2m5f, he has only lacked the stamina to win when beaten by Noble Prince, so 3-mile should be within his scope. He could just be capable of leading all-the-way (like Desert Orchid) in the King George on Boxing Day for which he is currently 14/1.
No selections for the blog today despite there being an attractive meeting at Haydock.
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