We saw a terrific performance from SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR at Carlisle yesterday when winning over and extended 3-mile off with the consistent chaser Vintage Star - who also ran a great race and jumped like a stag throughout - well beaten. This means that the 7yo Shutthefrontdoor has now won 9 or his 14 races, which include the Irish Grand National.
It may not have been a handicap yesterdxay, but he's sure to go up another 7lb at least for this win, maybe more, and he looks a chaser capable of achieving a rating of 165+ which puts him firmly in the Cheltenham Gold Cup picture should his trainer Jonjo O'Neill consider it.
Don't forget, O'Neill has won the Gold Cup before with a progressive handicapper in Sychronised who, at this stage in his career was only rated OR150. If he goes to Chepstow for the Welsh National and wins that then O'Neill will have a dilemma on his hands.
On Saturday I was at Sandown for the racing there (it was my birthday) and I managed to find a couple of winners. The 1st race fell my way thanks to the winner catching the eye of my girlfriend in the paddock ("he looks perky"). Unfortunately, as I fancied the eventual runner-up No No Mac more, my wager was only a small eachway. Thankfully, I stuck to my guns for the 2nd race and had a substantial wager on the Paul Nicholls novice chaser IRISH SAINT who was having his chase debut. It is a bit of a gamble with novice chasers but, so long as he was able to jump, this one was about 15lb better than his only other serious rival in the race. The odds of 4/5 looked generous in hindsight. Will this horse end up in the 'Arkle' or the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival next March? He looks good enough to win either race to me.
The rest of the afternoon didn't go so well as the ground was a lot more testing that the official description of "good-to-soft". It looked more like 'soft - heavy in places' to me with the winners being those horses that stayed the trip best of all.
I was impressed with the novice hurdler Baron Alco from Gary Moore's stable, in fact Moore all the horses sent out by Moore to Sandown looked very fit and well placed. The winner of the 4th race on the card Sound Investment confirmed his liking for Sandown (he was already a course winner) and that the ground was softer than reported. I'm hoping the runner-up Dolatulo isn't hit hard by the handicapper as he could run well next time, especially on better ground - and he will stay 3-mile.
The 3-mile chase went to the well-related La Reve, and this 6yo could be an exciting handicapper this season. Stamina seems to be his speciality, and this race was his a long way out. He is another who will probably run better on ground that isn't as soft as this. My money was on the Venetia Williams trained Saroque and, on seeing him striding around the paddock beforehand, I thought the winnings were already in the bag. Unfortunately, the ground did for him, but he stuck on to take 2nd place - albeit well beaten by the winner.
The rain was coming down heavily by the time of the final race and altho' Stonegate won easily, I don't like relying on form shown in extreme weather.
There's a cracking 3-day meeting at Cheltenham starting on Friday with the feature race being the Paddy Power Gold Cup on Saturday. Little Josh at 8yo in 2010 is the only winner of the race older than 7yo in the past 10 years, so keep with the 6yo's and 7yo's when considering the race. If Kapga De Cerisy from Venetia Williams stable takes part (currently 25/1) I'll be interested in him.
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Tuesday, 11 November 2014
Is Shutthefrontdoor a potential Gold Cup horse?
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