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Sunday, 11 December 2011

JONCOL to take the John Durkan at Punchestown

The 401st edition of the Wayward Lad blog.

Blog Performance 1st November 2011 onwards:-
Selections = 25
Winners = 5
Points staked = 30pts
Profit since 1st November 2011 = 13.60pts (ROI = 45.33%)

Yesterday’s meeting at Cheltenham was very informative in my opinion, and should throw-up a fair few winners, possibly even a Festival winner.

It started with the odds-on Hinterland being turned-over by the 14/1 BABY MIX who was having his hurdling debut in England having raced in France till mid-October and only joined trainer Tom George on 21st November, 3 weeks ago. BABY MIX looked very impressive indeed.

The 3-mile novice chase has been won by some decent horses, and 3 times in the past 7 years by Paul Nicholls (with Inchidaly Rock, What A Friend, Cornish Rebel). As such, his winner of this JOIN TOGETHER looks to have a bright future. He fell in his debut chase on 22nd Oct and, based on the form of that race, he may have gone close had he finished. The form of his next run (which he won) has worked out well enough. Mossley did not jump well today in defeat, so that tempers the form of today's race a little, but he was well there till stamina told from 2-out. Mossley is also clearly a smaller horse than JOIN TOGETHER and he may struggle as a chaser. I’d say this run puts JOIN TOGETHER 2nd only to Grands Crus amongst the staying novice chasers and (on a line thru’ Sonofvic) Nicholls will know just how good that one is.

The next race on the card - the class 2 handicap chase - fell apart when Tanks For That and Dave’s Dream both lost their riders at the 4th-last. Takeroc was already beaten when he fell at the next fence as he needs the bare 2-mile on a flat track to show his best. As such, my selection HAVINGOTASCOOBYDO was left in front and very quickly seemed unhappy with the situation with subsequent winner Astracad taking-up the running after the 3rd-last fence. He stayed-on again after the 2nd last (as he was now chasing rather than leading) but he was unable to re-assert his authority on the race. He should stay on OR135 and I feel he’ll be best going right-handed (has won twice at Ludlow) as he held his head oddly, and he could also stay up to 2m4f. As for Rileyev, the sooner he steps up to 2m4f, the better in my opinion.

The novice hurdle was dominated by SEA OF THUNDER – a half-bro’ to champion hurdler MAC’S JOY – who stole a commanding lead going to the final flight with the race at his mercy, but there he fell in spectacular fashion. Given he’d been put in his place by Hazy Tom LTO at Wetherby it could just be that that unbeaten 5yo (who is entered to run at Ascot next week) could be a lot better than the OR143 rating he’s been allotted. Whatever, SEA OF THUNDER is improving fast and looks to be OR140+ and might yet be worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as his illustrious half-bro’.

The feature race of the meeting, the Spinal Research Gold Cup, went to Quantitativeeasing, a horse that I was not surprised to see win over a course and trip that he has excelled at. He has improved with every run prior to today, but in this race he matched his best effort and he may find life tough when re-rated as he’ll surely go up at least 7lb. Medermit in 2nd is as consisitent a horse as you’ll find and runs to the same level over fences as he did as a hurdler, 157-159. He is the benchmark for this race. Roudoudouville had the race won jumping the last, but the Cheltenham hill claimed him. If he stays on OR145 he can win a race over 2m4f. As for my selection GHIZAO, he made a couple of errors in his jumping and at halfway I’d almost given up on him. But, at the top o’the hill he travelled quickly into contention and looked to be travelling best after 3-out and landed in 3rd at the 2nd-last. However, he did not stay the final couple of furlongs and his effort petered-out. The tactical speed he showed in this competitive race marked him out as a classy horse, and a race over 2m1f or 2m2f could see him at his best. I still think he has the potential to run well in the QM Champion Chase next March for which he is 33/1.

The Grade 2 International hurdle produced another top hurdler in GRANDOUET for Nicky Henderson to go alongside Binocular, and Oskar Whisky. The runner-up Overturn won the Fighting Fifth hurdle last week and I reckon matched that performance in this, which puts GRANDOUET at about 160 (Overturn has never run better than 160, so where the handicapper gets OR168 from is anyone’s guess). Overturn will never win a Champion Hurdle, but GRANDOUET might. The RP’s race analysis tries to dampen down GRANDOUET’s Champion Hurdle potential by coming out with the “5yo’s don’t run well in the Champion Hurdle” bunkum, which should be binned alongside “2½ milers go well in the National”, and “French-breds don’t stay the National trip”. Let’s look at the facts:-
In 2011 – 2 x 5yo’s ran, Clerks Choice (6th) and Mille Chief (last of 11).
In 2010 - a 5yo was 3rd (Zaynar),
in 2009 - 5yo's came 2nd, 3rd and 4th (Celestial Halo, Binocular, Crack Away Jack - 23 ran)
In 2008 - a 5yo's came 1st and 3rd (Katchit, Punjabi - the only 2 5yo's in the race)
In 2007 - a 5yo came 3rd (Afsoun) with the only other 5yo (Detroit City) in 6th.
In 2006 - there were 3 x 5yo's in the race rated, OR145, OR147 and OR154
In last 5 years, 5yo's have filled 7 of the 16 available places (was 4th paid in 2009?) - that's a helluva strike-rate for an "age" so easily dissed – when they only provided 10 of the total 71 runners in those 5 years! On those stats, I’d say every 5yo that runs in the Champion Hurdle should be backed.

Along with GRANDOUET, the 3rd-placed horse BRAMPOUR ran in last March’s Triumph Hurdle at the Festival, and this is looking like having been a classic year for the 4yo’s.
The final race on the day’s entertaining card saw OSCAR WHISKY win at odds-on. He is the best performing hurdler this side of the Irish Sea seen this autumn and should be a lot shorter than 20/1 for the Champion Hurdle. The reason he’s not is that he’s probably more likely to go for the World Hurdle (for which he’s 8/1) and whether that’s the case will likely be answered if he takes up his entry for the Long Walk Hurdle next week at Ascot.

At Punchestown today (Sunday) we have the John Durkan Memorial Chase, a Grade 1 event over 2m4f. On official ratings there is very little splitting the main contenders. Top-rated is Rubi Light who will have going and trip in his favour but, for me, the jury is still out on whether he is really an OR164 horse, as he wasn’t beating OR137 rated Coolcashin much when he fell at the last (was re-mounted and finished 3rd) LTO. JONCOL will also love the trip and going and won this race 2 years ago as a 6yo. For me, he is the one they all have to beat. Were this race over 3-mile, I would not hesitate in nominating Kempes as I feel he needs further than 2m4f.The trip and going will also suit Tranquil Sea, but I feel he’s more of a 155-157 rated chaser, whereas JONCOL is 160-163. Interestingly, Barry Geraghty who rode both these horses when they last ran (and won on both) has opted for Tranquil Sea, and so Paul Carberry has the ride on JONCOL. If Geraghty’s choice results in the odds shortening on Tranquil Sea (from 7/2) then it could be that I can obtain 3/1 or even 7/2 about JONCOL and that would represent value in my book as at his current odds of 5/2 the market has it about right.

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Blog performance: 1st November 2010 to 31st October 2011
Profit = 15.9525pts
Return on Investment = 8.27% (total stakes, 193pts)

Betting on horseracing should be a pleasurable experience - never bet more than you can afford to lose.

Thanks from Wayward Lad.

1 comment:

  1. Nice summary of yesterday Ian.
    I agree with your comments about Rileyev – and reckon he could progress even further, when he tackles a more suitable trip.
    I agree less with your comments about 5 year olds in the champion hurdle (I’m in the RP camp on that one !). 2008 & 2009 were very weak years – Katchit is the poorest winner of a champion hurdle in living memory (and probably beyond !). If there is no decent opposition, then a 5 year old will win by default, but if the older brigade is up to scratch, I think they will always lose out… (I think your number of 5 year old runners in the race, is also a little out)
    With regard to today’s selection: Joncol is an admirable horse in heavy ground – but I suspect he will be done for toe over this trip.
    Good luck all the same !


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