Buveur D’Air has won on each of his four seasonal debuts in a career that has yielded an amazing 14 wins from 17 starts under rules.
Surely a mesmerising set of stats to give you reason enough to plough into the reigning champion hurdler and pay for the forthcoming Christmas expenses when he runs in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle 2.05 on Saturday?
Errrrr….no. Look a lot closer at those first runs of the season and on my private ratings each performance has been at least 9lbs below his best run of each season and up to 15lbs below that mark.
Of course it doesn’t mean he can’t successfully defend his title, but beating Irving by three and a half lengths last year and running against Samcro and Summerville Boy, is like playing at home to Macclesfield and then travelling to Turin to take on Juventus.
To my eyes, Samcro was simply given a horrendous ride in the WKD Hurdle at Down Royal by Jack Kennedy as his young partner concentrated on what Sharjah was doing and totally ignored the eventual winner Bedrock.
Of course this stuffy horse is bound to come on for the run and needs to be respected, but has everyone forgotten about Summerville Boy?
Despite nearly demolishing three of the hurdles, including the last, he put to bed his 18 rivals in great style in the Supreme Novices Hurdle and there is a lot more to come form this son of Sandmason.
He has reportedly schooled slickly at home and is ready to do himself justice and set down a marker at the first time of asking.
At the time of writing, the Ladbrokes Trophy Newbury 15.00 looks wide open and the forecast wet weather could massively change the plans of some of the big hitters, namely G Elliot and W Mullins.
I am desperate to see Elliott declare Monbeg Notorious for this as it is the perfect fit on deep ground for a staying chaser with titanic potential and I’ll admit to having invested in the seven-year-old at a huge price.
However, my wager was slightly tempered by the news from a friend of mine close to the yard that the youngster could well be held back for the Becher Chase at Aintree the following week. Or indeed kept fresh for the Welsh National at Chepstow over Christmas. If he does go to post, he could well be a huge springer in the market.
I think that Elegant Escape will confirm Sandown Park form with Thomas Patrick, but I am against the gamble on the mare Ms Parfois as I simply do not see her as an out and out stayer.
Willie Mullins finally found the key to RATHVINDEN last season, when he gave the 10-year-old a deep test of stamina culminating in victory in the National Hunt Chase at the Cheltenham Festival. His subsequent fourth in the extended three mile Champion Novice Chase at Punchestown simply wasn’t far enough for him and the 14/1 knocking about will do me nicely.
But at four points shorter, I think DINGO DOLLAR could be hugely underestimated here off a mark of just 148.
Alan King has long held this valuable and historic chase in the forefront of his mind for this youngster and he certainly won’t mind if it rains throughout the rest of the week.
Dingo Dollar ploughed through the mud to win off 130 this time last year over the extended three mile trip at the Berkshire track – despite his saddle slipping. He comes here on the back of a perfect prep over hurdles at the track last month when he was given a very considerate ride by Mr Hutchinson in the closing stages.
Of course he will need to improve to some degree to land this event, but the main selection has bundles of scope, has been working well at home and will relish the make-up of this contest to boot.
I am not saying victory for Alan King’s charge will change my life, but he wins here and Cameron Smith lands the Australian PGA , I will be flying to warmer climates for a surprise Christmas break in the sun!
*Prices correct at time of publishing