Nicky Henderson’s string have been slow this Season to make their mark in the top handicaps and Graded races but I fully expect a massive run from Ericht today. The heavy rain on Thursday night was not welcome but Ericht does have winning form on good/soft and ran well for a long way on proper soft ground at the Cheltenham November Meeting.
As luck had it in the Paddy Power Gold Cup I dropped Ericht as a selection at the last minute on ground concerns siding with eventual winner Caid du Berlais. Ericht jumped super in the Paddy Power Gold Cup looking a major contender rounding the bottom bend only to get make a bad mistake over the second last fence and then not jumping the final fence fluently either. The record says Ericht was well beaten by Caid du Berlais, a full 17 lengths officially, but he ran a much better race than that.
Today, Barry Geraghty takes over having ridden him when finishing third at Cheltenham in October on good/soft behind Johns Spirit on his seasonal debut. Ericht looks well handicapped on hurdles form with a chasing rating just 2lbs higher. His jumping was very good in the main last time out and having had just the 7 chase starts is open to major improvement. Henderson admitted in November that his string were not 100% but over the past week or two the signs are more positive so let’s see if Ericht can kick start the Nicky Henderson season into top gear.
Caid du Berlais was obviously on my radar having done us a huge turn winning the Paddy Power Gold Cup and should go well off just a 5lb higher mark. I liked the chances of Barrakilla through a line of form with No Buts but the market was well onto him earlier this week and he is very short at 5/1. It’s a good race but not as competitive as I would have liked with just the 13 runners and therefore 3 places on offer. As a result there is not double selections today but all in on Ericht!
Selection – 1 Point *EW Ericht Cheltenham 14:00 @ 9/1 generally
Best of luck,