I have it on good authority that Nicky Henderson’s yard feel they have the Champion Hurdle all wrapped up and they will swiftly move onto Wednesday’s card post 15:36 on Tuesday; simple as.
Mr Henderson had a wry smile on his face when I asked him about the opening day feature, but with Barry Geraghty sidelined the question is who will ride ‘the winner’?
After duplicating my thoughts on the Champion Hurdle from this blog last week in the form of a question to Henderson, “Buveur D’Air can’t win in a year of Sundays based on his Sandown form can he Nicky?”
Henderson answered with a wry smile: “Yes you are right Paul and the key factor is the ground it is crucial for both him and Brain Power.”
Problem is Nicky, you and your boys/girls have got it all wrong because Yanworth will win it and I reckon Geraghty would have partnered him and fancy Mr Coleman will now be the lucky recipient of the winning ride.
Noel Fehily will surely get the nod over Mark Walsh on Harry Fry’s UnowhatImeanharry in the Stayers’ Hurdle on the Thursday and I have backed arguably the best horseman in the game at 7/1 with Paddy Power to be top jockey.
I used to back the winner of the RSA Chase with alarming regularity. It was almost like an annual ISA maturing on the second day of the festival, but this year there are several ‘ifs’ and a lot more ‘buts’ in the novice staying championship.
At the time of writing there are 39 entries. By my reckoning at least 22 won’t even line up and another seven have realistic alternative targets. And I still can’t fully see the light!
However, value has always been the core of my punting game and with NR/NB in operation I have dug deep and backed SINGLEFARMPAYMENT each-way at 20/1 in the hope that Tom George decides to run here instead of the the Ultima Handicap Chase on the opening day.
Now if the going is pivotal for the Champion Hurdle then it is even more so for Wednesday’s Neptune Novices Chase. On genuinely good ground it is entirely possible that both the first two in the betting, Neon Wolf and Finians Oscar, won’t even run.
Third in the betting, Death Duty, is bound for the potato race (the 3m Albert Bartlett novices hurdle) on day four so we are already looking at a 5/1-plus poke and I really hope Willie Mullins lets KEMBOY take his chance.
With an action made for good ground and an engine to go with it, I simply couldn’t resist the 25/1 on offer and I know some good judges in the yard fancy his chance.
Friday’s Albert Bartlett could see the Gordon Elliot trained Death Duty start as short as 6/4 on the day, so if you fancy this well touted novice then the 5/2 from PP looks a stand out bet ante-post at non runner no bet. However, I could easily see most of the boards chalking up 8/1 bar one on the day, cue WEST APPROACH.
Now I need you to help me with something because quite frankly I am flummoxed. Both on my private ratings and on official figures Colin Tizzard’s charge is simply miles clear. Can he really be the proverbial each-way bet to nothing as long as we don’t get extremes of ground? Hello, wake up and smell…………errr the money?!
Little black book …
Finally, a couple for your little black note book and first up a note for Mr Nicholls, please Paul stop trying to stretch IRISH SAINT out over three miles, HE DOES NOT STAY. Thanks mate.
And secondly, get ready for a gamble when the Stuart Williams’ trained AUNTIE BARBER is stepped up to 12 furlongs. The words ‘crying out for’ and ‘will relish’ a staying trip are apt here.