Back in the game!
After a difficult opening day, what a way to bounce back - ENERGUMENE romped home an easy winner of the QMCC, and I have been plugging this horses chances for nearly two weeks. This is what wrote on 5th March: Mullins would not race this absolute top-class 2-mile chaser in the QMCC if he thought he had no chance of reversing the places of the Ascot race, and the QMCC trip and Cheltenham could suit him well. Odds of 4/1 (NRNB) are massive about a horse who - without Shishkin - would be about 1/3 odds-on for this race. I was on ENERGUMENE at 4/1, and again at 7/2 - this was my biggest wager on a horse since I tipped Cue Card for the Ryanair Chase which he won in 2013: that's how confident I was.
The ground started off soft before turning heavy, and it was fortuitous that I restricted selections when there were a couple of winners at 50/1 (Commander Of Fleet) and 28/1 (Global Citizen), with the only other losing fav being Shishkin (trainer Henderson has blamed the ground).
Ground starts off heavy again, but with a dry day forecast it could get better - the word is could, not will.
The opening race at 1:30pm is pretty much a match between Bob Olinger and Galopin De Champs. On the level of form over jumps that we've seen from the pair, I favour GALOPIN DES CHAMPS, but there may not be much in it.
The Pertemps Hurdle Final handicap over 3-miles is more my cup-of-tea, especially on this ground - we could see a 20-length winner! Sire Du Berlais may have only won 4-times in 21 races, but he's won this race twice, including on soft ground in 2020. He looked as good as ever LTO at Warwick on soft ground. Irish trainer Gordon Elliott sends 6 for this, including Sire Du Berlais, and his Sassy Yet Classy has Davy Russell in the saddle. This mare stays 3-mile well, handles soft ground but is a hold-up horse, so don't expect to see her till late-on. Elliott also qualified Tullybeg for this race in October and we've not seen this horse since, but the ground may well be too soft for him. Trainer Hughie Morrison is better known for flat-racing, but his small band of jumps horses do well, and my eye is caught by THIRD WIND who looks extremely well-handicapped on OR141 when he was rated OR153 after beating ex-Stayers Hurdle winner Lisnagar Oscar in February last year over 3-mile on soft ground. Thta was his last win, and he wasn't far off that form when running 3rd at Warwick (in front of Sire Du Berlais) in January off OR146 - and he's been 4lb better-in with the fav today. He would not normally be considered up to winning this race, but he's a stout stayer on this ground and odds of 28/1 with 7-places (William Hill) look worthy of a wager.
The Ryanair Chase over 2m4f & 127yds is one of my favourites, but it is near impossible to see the odds-on ALLAHO not winning the race. The ground may well slow him down though, so who will get close enough to make a race of it? There's not much on official ratings, and it's the the Mullins-trained pair of Janadil and Melon who look best placed. It' a no-bet race for me.
The Stayers' Hurdle over 3-mile was won by FLOORING PORTER last year, and readers of the blog were on him at 14/1. He's still one of the youngest horses in the race at 7yo, and looks as good as last year, if not better, and I think he's the one to be beaten. Klassical Dream is the obvious challenger, but he's on a recovery mission today after a stinker of a run in January. Previous Stayer's winner Paisley Park ran a career-best when 3rd in this last year, and despite winning the Cleeve Hurdle in January in style, I don't think he's good enough. Champ was beaten in that race and looked exposed at the trip, and Thyme Hill has been off since before Christmas (which is not good) but is a Festival winner. I already have a Flooring Porter in a double with Energumene, so I have a big investment in this race. It's FLOORING PORTER all the way for me at 4/1.
The chase handicap "Plate" over 2m4f is a tricky race to fathom. A horse I have followed all season is FUSIL RAFFLES and he started the season off OR156 after chasing home Chantry House here last season. I thought he was unlucky here in December over C&D when he made errors, and he clearly didn't stay 3-mile LTO at Doncaster. Back down to this optimum trip, and he's won on soft ground, he is also down to OR149 and he's my idea of an eachway wager. Unfortunately, now a non-runner!
I'm going to give the Mares Novices Hurdle a miss and go onto the Kim Muir handicap chase over 3m2f, for amateur riders. When I was reviewing the Ultima Handicap last week, one that was diverted early from that race was Ain't That A Shame, and while he is very lightly-raced, his form stands up to scrutiny. It was probably inexperience that got him beat LTO, and he stays and travels very well. Odds of 8/1 (available generally) look fair for a small eachway wager. The master amateur rider, JJ Codd is on Smoking Gun, but unless this horse has been seriously showing improved form at home, then he may struggle in this. The race fav School Boy Hours won LTO, but that was his 1st win in 10 chase races, however he has run well in those 9 defeats - odds of 5/1 look a bit skinny though.
Advised wagers for today:
2:10pm - THIRD WIND - £2.50 eachway @ 22/1 (William Hill 7-places 5th odds)
3:30pm - FLOORING PORTER - £15 win @ 4/1 (available generally)
5:30pm - AIN'T THAT A SHAME - £2.50 eachway @ 8/1 (Bet365 6-places, 5th odds)
Total = £25.00 staked
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