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Thursday 11 February 2016

A "penalty kick" for Nicholls

With good-to-soft ground at Doncaster, and soft ground (in the main) at Huntingdon, we have some of the best racing ground we’ve seen for a week. This has resulted in some decent fields for today’s racing and I have a handful of horses running from my alert list.

At Doncaster, in the opening race at 1:15pm there is St Johns Point who was last seen chasing home Waldorf Salad in December over 2m5f.  He was clearly outstayed that day by an improving novice chaser, who went on to run a cracker at Cheltenham on 30th Jan. While I think he’s a lot better than his OR120 rating, I feel this 3-mile trip will stretch him. There are no such stamina doubts about his rival at the head of the market for that race, Willoughby Hedge, but I’m just not sure how much potential that 9yo has when you look at the distance he was beaten LTO despite coming home in 2nd place. This race looks ripe for an upset and, with the 7yo Under The Phone being another with no guarantee to stay this 3-mile trip, I am surprised that the 11yo confirmed stayer FIRM ORDER is as long as 8/1 (various bookies).  He’s been lightly raced these past 12-months, but ran a cracker this time last year when 2nd to Firebird Flyer who he’d meet on 24lb better-terms today for that 6-length beating over 3-mile on soft ground at Ludlow. He’s slipped from OR130 then to race off just OR113 today.

At 4:05pm at Doncaster, we have an interesting novice chase over 2m3f, in which I pointed-out the chance of the Paul Nicholls trained NEXIUS.  When I wrote that yesterday, I failed to notice that (from my alert list) Nicky Henderson had entered BLUE FASHION who was a talented hurdler over this sort of trip in 2013-14, but who missed most of last season in a curtailed campaign. This isn’t a race to wager on, but certainly one to watch for Cheltenham Festival purposes.

At Huntingdon there is an interesting Class 2 handicap hurdle at 1:55pm over 2m4f.  There are a couple from my alert list in this race, San Benedeto and After Eight Sivola.  This race should be a “penalty kick” for the Paul Nicholls trained Baoulet Delaroque, but he also trains San Benedeto and he won’t be far away.  I entered San Benedeto onto my alert list as I thought he was the type to go chasing this season.  However, Nicholls has managed his progress well; he continues to improve as a hurdler and is now rated OR145 (from an opening mark of OR131 at the end of last season). He could be one to fill one of the places behind Baoulet Delaroque.

Looking back at yesterday, I was right about the Don McCain trained novice chaser SUBTLE GREY, who won at Carlisle; but he was be odds-on.

I’m tempted to have a small eachway wager on FIRM ORDER, but this is no recommendation.  The novice chasers St Johns Point and Willoughby Hedge could come on a bundle for their limited experience to date, and Firm Order has never been one to rely on if there is a fight on from the final fence (he’s let me down a few times in the past). 

1 comment:

  1. NEXIUS won in good style for Paul Nicholls.
    I was spot-on about the other Nicholls horses, Baoulet Delaroque and San Benedeto, as they finished 1st & 3rd.
    And that monkey FIRM ORDER walked into the 4th fence giving his jockey no chance!