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Friday 7 October 2016

Young Dillon to take the spoils

Just the one jumps meeting on Friday but what a good meeting it is as Newton Abbot stages a couple of cracking races.

Before that, a quick look back at yesterday's racing and the handicap chase at Exeter went to Belmount who made it two wins from two races in quick succession. He seems to have gotten-over his issues of last season and is starting to fulfil the promise of his debut chase win. He didn't seem to enjoy soft/heavy ground last winter, so whether he can continue in this form remains to be seen.  The fav - The Tourard Man - was very disappointing, and perhaps the busy summer racing has caught up with the 10yo. Some of the others in the race looked in need of the outing, so all things considered I'm not rating this race too highly.

Today at Newton Abbot we have a very competitive looking handicap hurdle at 3:00pm over 3m2f, in which last years winner Milan Bound returns for another crack.
We know Milan Bound stays the trip well and handles the track, and he's enjoyed a similar preparation to last season coming here fresh, but he is 7lb higher in the handicap. As he only scraped home last year I think this race will be won by another. I'm looking at the younger unexposed horses in this race and a couple look likely potential winners.
One such is the 6yo Valhalla who beat an decent field over 2m7f at Exeter LTO in the Spring. He looks to hold exciting potential, but that's all it is at the moment: potential.
Paul Nicholls should always be respected but his 6yo Alcala didn't prove he stayed this sort of trip on his one outing beyond 2m5f (was a one-paced 4th over 2m7f in a Grade 3, Class 1 handicap hurdle at Haydock in Nov15) and I have never thought that his sire's progeny (he's by Turgeon) were best at trips over 3-mile.
Luccombe Down is also a 6yo and while he's won over 2m6f, his older full-brother has struggled along at the 2-mile minimum trip as a hurdler. As such, I'm not confident that his stamina will last out over this trip. 
The Romford Pele will certainly stay this trip, but his current OR144 rating is far too high for him to be competitive over hurdles.  When he ran in the Cleeve Hurdle on 30th Jan at Cheltenham, he was rated OR136 over hurdles and that looks a fair rating, although the ground will be more in his favour today.
Young Dillon is a lightly raced 7yo who has won twice this summer over 3-mile-plus, including last week at Fontwell.  That means he's race-fit, he stays the trip, he has ability to win and he's still improving. That's a lot of ticks in the boxes, and odds of 8/1 available generally make Young Dillon a fair ew wager in this.
Uncle Jimmy returns after a break of 608 days and he will have to be at his best to win this; not impossible but I'd want longer odds than 10/1 to tempt me. 
The remaining runners look unlikely to be involved.

The next race on the card is a puzzler even though having only 4 runners. We all know that Vintage Vinnie is well and good having won twice in the past few week; but he has next to no chance conceding 12lb to the other 3 rivals in the race. The race-fav is Virgilio who won his 2nd chase race in style last May and looked a lot better than OR148 on that day. Brother Tedd is having his chase debut and he will have his jumping technique under scrutiny in this!  Rated slightly better than Virgilio over hurdles, if he takes to fences then he could be interesting, however I am expecting Vintage Vinnie to go off at a rate of knots to expose any flaws in jumping with these novice chasers.
The remaining horse in the race is San Benedetto sent by Paul Nicholls.  I rate this horse who gives his all every time, but he met some decent rivals last season.  Sent chasing in the summer, he's won both starts and LTO beat Presenting Arms (who also ran 2nd to Vintage Vinnie LTO) and that's a good yardstick. I think San Benedetto is a horse who never knows he's beaten and at 100/30 he could be interesting in a race that could turn out to be a match between him and the fav Virgilio. With only 4 runners, this isn't a race to put the mortgage on.  I'm expecting Vintage Vinnie to go off like a bat out of hell, but he does tie-up in his races and needed a breather mid-race LTO.

All-in-all, a decent couple of races and I'm sorely tempted to put up Young Dillon as an eachway wager. But it would be no surprise to see either Valhalla or Arcala improve considerably on what we've seen to date, and I get the feeling that the future for Young Dillon is over fences and that's where we will see the best of him.

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