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Thursday, 8 March 2012

Possible Festival handicap steamer

The 452nd edition of the Wayward Lad blog.

The early entries for Day 1 of the Festival were available yesterday and I managed to get a look thru' last night.

There are a couple still in the opening race of the Festival, the Supreme Novices Hurdle, that catch my eye and may require closer inspection. They are MOLOTOF and MONKSLAND, both of which are currently 20/1. The JLT Handicap Chase has cut-up a fair bit, and Quantitativeeasing is likely to carry top-weight of 11:12. If you read my blog yesterday, you will know I challenged Mark Winstanley at the preview night I attended on Tuesday 6th March about Penny Max in this race, and suggested stable-mate ZARRAFAKT was a better proposition – which was rebuffed by "The Couch". Well, Penny Max (who would prefer soft going) has been pulled-out and ZARRAFAKT is still in it and is now a 16/1 chance, ticking a lot of boxes for this race – I can see him starting favourite for this on Tuesday. He's my idea of the handicap "steamer".

Paul Nicholls has 4 running for him in the Champion Hurdle – a race he is yet to win – and, despite being a 5yo, I am very sweet on the chances of ZARKANDAR. However, I could not have a penny on him at 5/1 as I think, for what we have actually seen on the course, he still needs to show another 12lb of improvement to beat HURRICANE FLY if the retaining champion is up to last year's form. I am expecting ZARKANDAR to drift on the day as the Irish supporters will make the "Fly" possibly the 4/6 fav at the off. There will also be plenty of support for BINOCULAR and I can see him starting at 7/2, maybe even 3/1. As such, we could get 13/2 or maybe even 7/1 about ZARKANDAR on Tuesday and, at those odds, he will become a serious betting proposition. I'll explain why in another blog between now and the race.

A couple of meetings today at Carlisle and Wincanton, and I'm disappointed in the Wincanton card. As such, I've taken more time on the races at Carlisle. In the 3:15, which is a 2m5f novice handicap chase, BALLYOLIVER looks wells treated and we know he'll handle the going (soft, heavy in places) and stay the trip. There is a concern for him going right-handed but, at 7/2 (Vic Chandler, BOG)as I write, he seems to be fair value. The danger, if it is one, is from Rich Lord but that 8yo last won in February 2008 (a hurdle at Carlisle, as it happens) and he has to prove he stays this trip which he hasn't done when racing beyond 2m1f in the past. The others look well out of it, including Classical Mist who was 2nd at Carlisle LTO over 2m4f on soft going. I don't think he truly enjoys soft going and was flattered LTO, so he will probably struggle on today's ground.

The other race I may have a wager in at Carlisle is at 4:20, which is a handicap chase over 3m2f. I can see why Teenando (who is 5 wins from 11 runs at Carlisle) is current 7/2 fav, but his latest win was over 2m4f on heavy here last month, and altho' he has won at this trip it was on good to firm going and he did not look a stayer at this trip when he ran over C&D last November on good-to-soft off OR82. He runs off OR97 today as he's up 8lb for his LTO win, and I can see him leading to the final mile whereupon he'll drop-out quickly. I like the look of BILLS GREY was 2nd in this race last year to Blazing Diva and meets him on 8lb better terms. He stays the trip, will love the going, and the good pace likely to be set by Teenando will be just what he needs. At 5/1 (Betfred, Boylesports) he's a fair price.


Carlisle 3:20, BALLYOLIVER, ½pt win @ 7/2 (Vic Chandler, BOG)

Carlisle 4:15, BILLS GREY, ½pt win @ 5/1 (Betfred, BOG)

Total = 1pt staked

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