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Saturday 1 March 2014

It's grim up North

The feature race of the day is the William Hill Grimthorpe (handicap) Chase over 3m2f at Doncaster. Other meetings are at Kelso and Newbury. 

At Doncaster the ground is officially "good", but the going stick suggests it may be on the soft side. What is interesting is that Barry Geraghty rides here for Nicky Henderson, so they mean business. Unfortunately, Geraghty does not have a great racord at Doncaster: 4 wins from 18 rides in hurdles and just 1 win from 7 rides in chase races; and nothing from 4 rides in "bumper" races. As such, it may pay to take a close look at both Mayfair Music in the novice hurdle race at 2:20, and Tistory in the novice hurdle at 4:40.

The Grimthorpe Chase looks a cracker of a race, with 12 runners - all of which I'm very familiar with - and a good spread of ability.  There are a couple of horse alert runners in it: Night In Milan and Godsmejudge.  Paul Nicholls has a great record with chasers at Doncaster (8 wins from 28 runners) but his 2 in this race Mon Parrain and Harry The Viking don't have much confidence behind them. Mon Parrain needs the ground to be proper "good" with no juice in it, and Harry The Viking still needs to recover his novice chase form of 2011-12. Even so, "Harry" ran his best race in some time here LTO on 6th Feb and - with just 10st 5lb on his back - he's going to go close. Top-weight Wayward Prince will need a career-best to win this off OR150. The trip and ground will really suit Godsmejudge, and I think he can win off OR148 if he's fit enough.  I reckon my old friend Monbeg Dude will be found-out off OR146 as I think he's been running to 138-140 since he won at Cheltenham off OR121 in Nov-12. He's the perfect example of my style of finding alert list horses: spotting ability early (before the handicapper) and other punters as he's with an unfashionable trainer, and having the confidence to back my own judgement. Then, when the horse reaches his ceiling, not being sentimental. 
Mart Lane was found out by the soft ground LTO here over 3-mile but, with just 8 chase runs, he's unexposed at this trip and has scope to improve. I'm not sure why Renard is in this race as he's best at trips under 2m4f. We were on Night In Milan when he ran in the Skybet Chase here LTO. He was taken on for the lead in that race but, even so, he ran a great race until the final half-mile when he literally ran out of puff.  I reckon he'll run well again, but the extra couple of furlongs is a worry. Emma Lavelle also has a great record at Doncaster (6 wins from 13 runners in chase races), and her Court By Surprise has been running well without winning recently. If you look in the formbook, he gave Night In Milan 10lb and a beating at Doncaster over 3-mile in Dec-12, and meets that one on 12lb better terms. He probably should have won LTO but was beaten by the trip of 3m5f, and the fact he's reunited with Barry Geraghty is a big plus. When Golden Call won LTO it what no real surprise when you look at the formbook as he's always had talent. Unfortunately, he's been moved about a bit by his owners, and it's taken patience by under-rated trainer Jenny Candlish to get the horse back on track. That win LTO was only his 6th chase race, so the horse has real potential for further improvement even tho' he's a 10yo. This horse had the potential to be about OR150 as a chaser as he was rated OR139 as a hurdler at 3-mile trips, but injury has stopped him reaching that level (yet). If the rain stays away and the ground dries, his chance will improve.  Real Milan will probably find this ground too quick, despite the trip being in his favour; and Storm Survivor seems to be out of form.

This is a tough race to call, and I'm glad I've slept on it overnight. I reckon the winner will have to exceed their rating by about 5lbs, and that rules out Monbeg Dude on OR146. Court By Surprise will also need a career-high to win. Harry The Viking will win this in a canter if he repeats his form of when 2nd in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2012, but is he capable of doing that? I think Godsmejudge is really aiming for a Grand National win than a Grimthorpe Chase win, so he may still have something for Alan King to work on. It's GOLDEN CALL that catches my eye and I just wish he had a Grand National entry. Let's hope he goes for the Scottish version. He's 10/1 for this and that has to be the value eachway wager.
The more adventurous may want to combine Golden Call, Harry The Viking, Court By Surprise and Godsmejudge for the forecast.

I'm off to London for the day, so this is the only race that I've decided to look at. If you have sent a donation for the Cheltenham Festival Bulletin, I will send out the email tomorrow (Sunday).

Doncaster 3:30 GOLDEN CALL, £10 each way @ 10/1 with Stan James, Paddy Power or Bet Victor who all go best odds guaranteed.

1 comment:

  1. The result of the Grimthorpe Chase was more than a little disappointing as - believe it or not - on Friday afternoon when I wrote my initial draft of the blog for Saturday, my selection was the eventual winner Night In Milan. What made me change my mind was that I didn't think the horse would stay the 3m2f trip having pulled-up over 3-mile at Doncaster LTO when challenged for the lead thru-out that race. Having watched yesterday's race, it looked like the jockey James Reveley was encouraged to let the horse have his head and run the rest of them (in pursuit) ragged in the process - and it worked.
    My selection GOLDEN CALL ran a great race and looked like winning till 4-out when he started to fade. The surprise of the race was Renard who has now earned a place in the Grand National in April when I expect he'll be the mount of Liam Treadwell who will be trying to repeat his win in the race on Mon Mome (also trained by Venetia Williams).