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Friday 10 January 2014

Some Festival pointers

No selection yesterday, and the one race that I looked at - the North Yorkshire National at Catterick - was probably best avoided from a betting point of view. Only 4 of the 9-runners finished the race and tho' the fav Merlin's Wish ran well enough he never looked like beating the the 7yo Sun Cloud who was having just his 5th chase race.
There is just the one meeting today at Sedgefield and, given the heavy ground there, I'm giving the meeting a miss.
Over the past couple of days I've been looking back over the results from the Boxing Day meetings and the wealth of jump racing over the week up to Saturday 4th January. There were some cracking good efforts, some of which I have already written about on the blog such as the King George VI Chase won by Silviniaco Conti from Cue Card. I'm expecting both of these horses to win their respective targets at the coming Cheltenham Festival, and I am very happy that connections of Cue Card have not entered the horse for the Champion Chase.
Some other terrific Boxing Day performances were recorded: CLOUDY TOO cemented his position as a OR160+ chaser over 3-mile with a comfortable win in the Rowland Meyrick Handicap Chase at Wetherby. We will be seeing a lot more of this 8yo in top staying chases in 2014.
On 27th December, DODGING BULLETS put himself in the forefront of the Arkle betting with an emphatic display at Cheltenham. I really am finding it hard to see one beating DODGING BULLETS and 8/1 looks good value to me.
The Welsh National went to MOUNTAINOUS and it was a great effort from the horse to hold off Hawkes Point who was 5lb better-off at the weights. The proximity of grand old campaigner Tidal Bay franked the form and Mountainous has now won 4 of his 5 starts on heavy ground. Who beat him on heavy ground on the one time he didn't win? Readers of the blog will know: it was our 25/1 winner MIDNIGHT APPEAL on that tremendous day back in October. Mountainous is now rated OR144 yet, when they met at Bangor in October both horses ran off OR132. If they met today, Midnight Appeal would recieve 5lbs as he's only rated OR139 at present. The horse that split this pair at Bangor, Loch Ba, has also franked that form running a staying-on 2nd at Haydock. I'll make no bones about it, Midnight Appeal looks a solid chance whatever handicap race he takes in NTO, and he's entered at Doncaster later this month.
Finally, DOUBLE ROSS looks a chaser going places. Already confirmed as a Festival "specialist" having run 3rd there last March, I would not want to oppose this horse whichever target he takes up.
I'm happy to report that the response to the Festival Bulletin poll was positive. It will, in all probability, be a bit more focussed this year with some outline notes on all the races but some greater depth of research and form on some specific target races. There are a couple of handicaps that I really like to get stuck into and I've comes close - but no cigar - several times in recent years. I've found the runner-up in handicaps with Fruity O'Rooney, The Cockney Mackem and Vino Griego and this March I will be hoping to go one better.

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