This week is transitional for me as my current contract ends in London and from Monday I'm working just a few minutes from my home in Brighton. Overall, not only will the move be good for my health as I won't be rising at 5:40am every morning and not returning home until after 7pm - but the extra hours of "freedom" will allow me more time to put to important form study. It used to be a simple exercise to read the race-form on the internet on journeys on the train into London, but a combination of more complex websites - and the RacingPost website with it's flashing add-on's and pop-ups doesn't help - and more people demanding bandwidth to stream tv programmes and movies has meant that reading the form on the train using the internet is near impossible.
This week has also brought us a string of bad news stories in horseracing. It started with the confirmation that Coneygree would not run in the Gold Cup, and that was followed by the news that last years Gold cup winner Don Cossack has been retired due to injury; and - in between - we learned that Kempton Park racecourse is to close sometime after 2020. With the news of the latter, there is already a "Save Kempton" campaign but, with no further investment heading down the A3 to the Sunbury track, unless a "buyer" can purchase the track from its current owners then that campaign is doomed to failure. I just hope readers followed my advice and took the 20/1 about Native River for the Gold Cup on the morning before he won Welsh National.
Today brings us interesting cards at Catterick and Leicester, with the 3m6f "North Yorkshire Grand National" being run at Catterick at 2:50pm. This extreme trip will take some staying and my initial thoughts were Gonalston Cloud and Doing Fine both of whom will be suited by this trip and ground. Another that you cannot ignore is course winner Straidnahanna who won here last February over 3m1f on soft ground, but he's looked short of that level since. Gonalston Cloud is also a two-time course winner, so there is a lot in his favour. Ballyben has run well this season for his latest trainer Malcolm Jefferson but he's gone up 12lb in the handicap in the process to OR127 and his last win was off OR114. Alto Des Mottes is clearly a soft/heavy ground horse with both his wins on heavy and his 2nd here (only 5 finished from 12 starters) was on soft ground. Ballyculla possibly also prefers soft ground judging by his decent run at Punchestown 20 months ago, and while he should come on for his run LTO there is no guarantee he will. I really cannot see Harry The Viking winning off OR127 although he is in good form and should go well.
Currently priced at 12/1 (quarter-odds eachway 1,2,3) GONALSTON CLOUD is a lightly-raced 10yo who runs prominently and stays all day long. We know he appreciates this Catterick track and the ground will also suit him, as such I'm expecting him to run a big race as he's only been raised 5lb for his win on Boxing Day over 3m3f. It would be no surprise for him to start the 6/1 2nd-fav to Doing Fine but, if we get some more juice in the ground, the conditions will suit Gonalston Cloud more than any other that I can see in this race.
Catterick 2:50pm GONALSTON CLOUD, £5 eachway @ 12/1 (available generally)
Fridays cards look poor, but Saturday brings us several decent races to consider.
At Kempton the 2m4f Class 2 handicap chase at 12:55pm brings together a couple of well handicapped horses in Ericht and Dusky Lark. Later in the afternoon it will take a good horse to beat Aso in the Class 1 "Listed" chase over 2m4f. And I expect Sandy Beach to be a warm favourite in the 3-mile Class 2 handicap chase - he looks a very exciting prospect. The other meetings at Wetherby and Warwick will depend on the weather over the next couple of days, and it is likely that racing plans will not be firmed-up until Friday morning. One horse I am hoping can recapture his form is Virak who in entered in the 3m5f Betfred Classic handicap chase to be run at Warwick.
I feel a bit robbed as jockey Adam Wedge looked to have left his challenge too late as he was making up ground rapidly from the final fence. Came home 2nd, but I feel he probably should have won.ReplyDelete