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advising selections on which to wager, since March 2010.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

The most important trial for Cheltenham is on Sunday

The 432nd edition of the Wayward Lad blog.

With no jump racing today, nor tomorrow (the meetings at Carlisle and Ludlow have already been abandoned) the search for  opportunities to get a preparatory run-in before the Valentine's Day cut-off is becoming more desperate. My research suggests that it is vitally important for horses holding realistic chances of winning at the Cheltenham Festival (in all races excepting the Gold Cup) to get their last run between 1st January and 14th February.

This weekend sees perhaps the last chance for horses to get that run and, as it happens every year, we have perhaps the most influential meeting prior to the Festival taking place in Ireland at Leopardstown on Sunday. The Dr PJ Moriarty Chase has provided the winners of the last 3, RSA Chases (Cooldine, Weapons Amnesty and Boston's Angel) and a winner of the Arkle (Forpadydeplasterer) over the last 3 seasons. For me, it is a race that I put a lot of faith in and, as such, I think Tom Segal (Pricewise in the Racing Post) may have jumped the gun by nominating Silviniaco Conti as his antepost selection for the RSA. For sure, if Grands Crus goes for the Gold Cup – and I think he has a realistic chance of winning that in what could be the weakest Gold Cup we've had since, well last year – then Silviniaco Conti will shorten considerably from his current best quote of 14/1 (Ladbrokes). But, do not overlook the Irish challenger that should be Bog Warrior. I'm expecting Bog Warrior to win the Dr PJ Moriarty on Sunday and, as Grands Crus will still be heading the betting for the RSA Chase, we should be able to get 8/1 or better once the result is known.

I really think this year's Gold Cup looks ordinary which is why a 12yo Kauto Star has been able to dominate the staying division this season winning both the Betfair Chase and the King George. Remember, prior to Best Mate's hat-trick of Gold Cups we hadn't seen a Gold Cup winner retain their crown since L'Escargot in 1971. So why Long Run is 9/4 to win next month, when he's been beaten fair'n'square by Kauto Star in both races this season, is beyond me. Long Run is a talented chaser but I doubt he'd have beaten Denman in his prime last March, nor even Imperial Commander for that matter. As seems to be the case with French breds (and I include Kauto Star in this) they seem to reach the peak of their ability early (as 5 or 6yo's) after which their ability plateau's. I personally don't think Long Run has improved one jot since he won the King George in January 2011 in fact his jumping (which was sketchy at best last season) appears to have got worse.

I read the handicap chase at Ayr wrong yesterday as I did not take enough account of the small field and the requirement for both of those who I thought capable of fighting out the finish bouncing back from poor runs. I was right about Posh Bird being unreliable as, despite looking strongest after the last fence, she found nothing when asked and could not pass the one-paced Mister Marker. As for Neptune Equester, he could need to freshen up with a hurdle race.

I was right about SYDNEY PAGET tho' who looks a potential top-class novice. Is he another Peddlers Cross for Donald McCain?

No selections today.

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