As such, the blog is treading-water at the moment when, with a bit of luck on our side we could have had one or two decent winners. The ground caught up with Sandy Beach on Saturday at Sandown and when it is bottomless there the 3-mile chases are grueling. Up to 2-miles I thought Sandy Beach was going well enough and would be involved in the finish but, in a matter of strides (just before the railway fences) his stamina emptied out and he was gone. I still think he has a good win in him in a suitable handicap especially on better ground, and the handicapper may even relent and drop him a pound or two.
It was a bit disappointing to see Otago Trail stay on strong to lead from 2-out as we were on him LTO at Haydock when he was 2nd to Bristol De Mai; but that was a hard race at Haydock and although he won on Saturday his odds of 4/1 were not value. That was demonstrated by how close the 11yo Loose Chips finished to him as, to be fair, Loose Chips had no right to be in the places running off OR139 (a career-high rating for him following a win over C&D in a veterans race in November). With the 3rd Irish Saint and 4th Rock The Kasbah pretty much proven non-stayers at 3-mile, you have to wonder whether the 7/2 fav Beg To Differ would have gone close to winning but for unseating his rider 2-out. This was another good plug for Bristol De Mai and his chance in the Gold Cup.
Earlier in the afternoon, Top Notch was impressive when winning the "Scilly Isles" Chase over 2m4f and I rate this top form for the 6yo Nicky Henderson trained novice chaser. I like my "Arkle" selection at the Cheltenham Festival to have winning form over 2m4f, and we know Top Notch was a very good - near top-class - 2-mile hurdler, and he ticks a lot of boxes. Bet365 go 10/1 for the Arkle about Top Notch, while Paddy Power, Ladbrokes and Corals go 16/1. That's because the market considers him more likely to go for the 2m4f JLT Novices Chase at the Festival instead, and Top Notch is priced at 7/1 generally for that race. I know he wasn't an advised selection, but I do hope readers of the blog latched-onto my confidence about Top Notch and took the 3/1 available in the morning.
Up at Musselburgh, my of other selection of the day Gonalston Cloud again ran a terrific performance without managing to get his head in front at the line. I thought I read this race well as Azure Fly ran well but was again exposed by his lack of a finish and so plodded on to be 3rd. From the formlines, it was difficult to know if the eventual winner Dancing Shadow would stay this marathon 4-mile trip, as he was essentially a 2m4f hurdler (he did run over 3m2f over hurdles in July 2016 when his trainer was trying to end his long losing run - but he was struggling throughout) and has never suggested this sort of trip would suit, but it did on Saturday.
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