The first thing that has struck me about the past two days has been the relative performances of Nicky Henderson and Colin Tizzard.
Hendo has blown away his rivals with four winners to date including the brilliant performance of Epatante in the Champion Hurdle. In complete contrast Tizzard can’t buy a winner with five fancied runners all running way below par. Fiddleronthehoof (11th), Mister Malarky (pulled up), Hughest Sun (7th), The Big Breakaway (4th), Slate House (6th) and Copperhead (fell).
It just puts a huge dark cloud over the rest of the Sherborne runners this week and it would be no surprise to see Lostintranslation start at a double-figure price for the Gold Cup on Friday at 3.30pm.
- Watch: Peter Crouch become a jockey for the day
- Ruby Walsh: What jockeys say to each other during racing
- Frank Hickey’s 3 best bets for Thursday
- Timeform’s 3 best bets for Thursday
At the other end of the optimism scale, especially following on from the miracle finish of Champ, I suspect Santini may well usurp Al Boum Photo as favourite for the Blue Riband event on Friday.
The other factor to note is that having walked on both tracks on Tuesday and Wednesday, there is little doubt that the more stamina-sapping New Course is significantly quicker than the Old Course.
That almost makes a shift in my thinking for the big prizes available on Thursday and Friday. The more the ground dries out the better for Min against A Plus Tard in the Ryanair and Clan des Obeaux in the Gold Cup, although I am still convinced that the Paul Nicholls charge won’t stay the extra two and a half furlongs.
So having reassessed my dissection of the final two days, I fancy we will see a huge run from Eldorado Allen off top weight in the County Hurdle. The small field of the Contenders Hurdle at Sandown Park just didn’t suit him and this end to end gallop will be much more in his favour. Oh, but hold on, scratch that… he’s trained by Colin Tizzard!!!!
The one horse I am looking forward to backing is RAPPER @ 22/1 in today’s Pertemps Hurdle where Paddy is paying the first 7 home! In all the preview nights I have been to and participated in, his name has not been mentioned, but he remains a young horse with the potential to improve again on what he has achieved.
His run here on New Year’s Eve was full of potential and if there is a stronger end-to-end gallop his undoubted stamina will come into play in what is admittedly a real good renewal of this staying handicap.
Back to Friday, and the Albert Bartlett Hurdle which I strongly feel should have been the target of Mossy Fen who was predictably outpaced in the Ballymore coming down the hill looks wide open.
This was a huge mistake by Nigel Twiston-Davies whose placing has to be questioned. There is little doubt that the five-year-old’s strong suit is his stamina.
That also looks the case with COBBLER’S WAY @ 12/1 who hails from the in-form yard of Henry De Bromhead. By Oscar out of a Supreme Leader mare, he will probably stay further than a bare three miles in time, when he goes chasing.
His running on second to Latest Exhibition in a Grade One at Leopardstown over 2m 6f was a huge eye catcher and this extra yardage is exactly what he has been crying out for.
Drying ground also cements my view that MINELLA ROCCO will win the Foxhunters Chase 4.20pm after the Gold Cup and the smooth travelling GREANETEEN will retain his unbeaten record in the Grand Annual Chase at 4.50pm.
Oh and a thought for the day, which several well known pundits have vehemently argued against, how moderate was the winning ride of Nico De Boinville in the Supreme Novices Hurdle?
He had the horse in the wrong place at the wrong time and it was only the huge latent talent of his partner Shishkin that twice got him out of trouble. The sheer guts he showed up the run-in as well as his undoubted class marks him down as a real Champion Hurdle contender if connections decide to go down that route.
And finally, why do mares continue to get a huge 7lbs allowance from their male counterparts? As convincing as her victory was on the opening day in the Champion Hurdle, would Epatante have won at level weights? I will leave you to debate that point among yourselves and leave you with the following thought.
The record books for the Champion Hurdle and Gold Cup would have a vastly different look to them if Dawn Run hadn’t been in receipt of an allowance from Cima in the former and Wayward Lad in the latter.