The 473rd edition of the Wayward Lad blog.
I've been a bit lax with blog updates recently, but I'll be endeavouring to make-up for the absences in the next few weeks.
Reading today's Racing Post this morning on the train, there were a couple of items that made me think, the first being the quote from Kieran Burke – trainer of Hunt Ball – was that he thought his much-improved novice chaser was still well-handicapped on OR157. It was a great debut in graded company at Aintree recently and, over 3-mile, Hunt Ball is very much unexposed, but IMO a rating of OR157 isn't far removed from where I have him and I'd be surprised if he can win a race like the Paddy Power Handicap next autumn 1st-time-out for the season.
That made me think about the top staying performance of the jumps season. Unlike other ratings services, I am not averse to returning to my ratings and re-evaluating in the light of subsequent form. For instance, I have returned to the Hennessey winning performance of Diamond Harry of 2010 and revised that twice since my initial assessment – both revisions have been significant reductions. The performance of Long Run in the Gold Cup has, for me, put a doubt over the ratings I gave him when meeting – and being beaten by – Kauto Star in the Betfair Chase and KGV this season. Long Run found absolutely 'zip' after the final fence in the Gold Cup and yet all the "experts" had been saying since the Boxing Day race that stamina was this horses trump card. I rated Synchronised at 168 when winning the Gold Cup and I wrote on my blog that there must be some trainers who would be kicking themselves for not trying their good staying chasers against the top-3 of Kauto Star, Denman and Long Run. I did not think that Paul Nicholls would probably be the trainer who was in that group – as his NEPTUNE COLLONGES put up possibly the highest rated staying chase performance of the season when winning the Grand National with 11st 6lb. I rated that performance at 169, and tho' short of what he was capable of at his peak, it would surely have been good enough to have seen him upsides Synchronised as they passed the post had he taken part in the Gold Cup last month.
It's a typical Monday's racing today, but we have an interesting class 2, 6-furlong handicap at Catterick at 3:15. With 17 runners, I'm sure the draw will have a significant effect on the final placings, but reading the Racing Post I'm no clearer as to whether high or low numbers will benefit. "Top Draw" favours the high numbers, but the write-up for the race suggests low numbers. I'm with "Top Draw" and I'm hoping that the mare COOLMINX (drawn 13) who tends to race prominently will be fit enough for this seasonal debut. There is an interesting meeting at Hexham over the jumps, and the 3m1f, class 5 handicap chase at 3:00 could go to BEAU DANDY. He's a soft ground winner and the testing heavy going should be in his favour. Not a race for the faint-hearted this, and there may not be many finishers. However, most of these are well-exposed low grade handicappers but, with only 5 chase runs (and just 7 races under rules), the 7yo BEAU DANDY does at least have the potential to improve on what he's shown to date.
No firm selections for the blog today, and I'll be playing both of these on the exchanges "back-to-lay".
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