Cheltenham Says Farewell to Sprinter Sacre
Not sure whether it’s the big fields or the arrival of the rain but the jumps horse racing over the weekend was excellent and really got the juices following for the coming winter months. It’s been a very quiet period for the jumps eyecatchers so far, mainly due to the small fields, but the last week saw plenty of horses that you should be adding to your trackers.
This weekend we had the three day Open Meeting at Cheltenham and saw some very interesting performance for the future. Before I look at the weekend’s action and this week’s eyecatchers it would be remiss of not to say a few words about Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig. On Sunday Cheltenham racegoers had the opportunity to say goodbye to Sprinter Sacre who has now being retired. I doubt many will forget how Sprinter Sacre came back to win this years Queen Mother Champion Chase at the Festival in what many will argue was one of trainer Nicky Henderson’s finest training performances. Probably the best chaser in a generation at his peak he didn’t have to be at his impervious best in March but still it was great to see the horse storm up the hill to win his race.
Just minutes after Sprinter Sacre was applauded back to the horse box, another Henderson horse, Simonsig lined up in the Shloer Chase. Nothing has gone right for Simonsig fitness wise since he won the Arkle Novices Chase at the 2013 Festival and sadly he only got as far as the 3rd fence before falling for which he received a fatal injury. Condolences to connections and also for his groom who had looked after the horse during his racing career! It was a sad end for the horse, which once again underlined how tough and cruel this sport can be for connections.
Cheltenham Open Meeting Highlights
As I have mentioned it was a cracking three days at Cheltenham that started on Friday. I will highlight my performance for each day of the meeting and also a horse for your trackers from each day.
Friday – Day 1
Best Performance – O O Seven – Runner up in Punchestown in a Grade 1 novice hurdle on his last start was well backed in the morning to make a winning debut over fences. The six year old jumped well throughout the race and once he made his effort and took up the running three out, he soon pulled clear of his rivals, Despite badly hanging to his right on the run in, he still managed to win by over 10 lengths at the finish. He has showed when winning a hurdle at Musselburgh earlier this year that he doesn’t tend to do much when getting to the front. The 2m 4f trip really suited the horse although he will stay further. Should make up into a top class novice chaser this season and I could easily see him being unbeaten, certainly when going right handed.
Eyecatcher of the Day – What A Moment – David Pipe had always thought the six year old would make a better chaser than a hurdler. He built on his first start over fences when 2nd at Aintree with a decisive win in this 3m 1f handicap chase. Given a nice patient ride by his amateur jockey he made steady headway until taking up the running two out and soon pulled clear of his rivals. He won by 2 ¼ lengths at the line but was probably worth more than that. Should be able to win more races over fences and also handled rain softened ground over hurdles.
Saturday – Day 2
Best Performance – Taquin Du Seuil – The 9 year old was well suited by the rain that fell before the race turning the ground soft given he was 4 from 4 when racing on heavy going this wasn’t such a surprise. This win gave trainer Jonjo O’Neill his third winner of the race and considering he came into the race without a winner from over 30 runners this was a good performance. Given a really strong ride by jockey Aiden Coleman it was his stamina that won him the day and given this he was carrying 11-11 this was the best performance of the day. Whether he can build on and perhaps win the something like the Ryanair Chase, I am not so sure but if he gets soft ground he will no doubt go for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup back here next month.
Eyecatcher of the Day – Irish Saint – Trainer Paul Nicholls had said before the race that the 7 year old would need his first run since April 2015 but he ran well for a long way in this handicap hurdle and was in contention until 2 out before fading to finish 5th. Had looked a decent novice chaser when last seen on the racecourse, 3 wins from 7 runs over fences, and no doubt his next start will be over the larger obstacles. Some of his best runs have come off a race so he is one to be interested in on his next start and can win a race or two if he keeps sound. He also handles soft or heavy ground.
Sunday – Day 3
Best Performance – Le Prezien. The 5 year old enhanced his trainer’s record in the race, giving him a 6th win. Had been well backed to make a winning seasonal reappearance on his first start over fences at Uttoxeter 16 days previously but had to settle for a very promising 2nd at the finish. A very useful novice hurdler he was well suited by the rain that fallen the previous day. Looked in a bit of trouble, with Some Plan jumping for fun out in front until coming down two out, and had had to be given a strong ride by his jockey to get upsides him. After the departure of Some Plan he stayed on too strongly for his remaining rivals and handles the soft ground as expected. Needed every yard of this race and although this was the Arkle Trial on the evidence of this race he needs further if he is to go for a race at next years Festival.
Eyecatcher of the Day – Ballyarthur – Showed the benefit of a recent run at Carlisle on his seasonal reappearance. Making his handicap debut he was well backed to make a winning handicap debut but he could only finish 4th having been a bit keen in the early stages of the race which didn’t help his cause at the finish. A big strong chaser in the making he has only had three starts over hurdles and can win a race off his present mark but whatever he does over hurdles the six year old will be bonus as he will make a really good chaser for connections.
This Weeks Eyecatchers
I have three eyecatchers for you this week and I will be adding three further eyecatchers exclusively for Pro subscribers.
Monday November 7th
Vintage Clouds – Sue Smith – Was well backed prior to the race to make a winning debut over fences. The six year old looks a real chasing type and despite the market support could only finish 2nd. He jumped well on the whole but made a couple of crucial mistakes that didn’t help. But really it was a combination of 2m 4f and good ground that was his undoing. His half brother Vintage Star stayed 3m 4f so 3m+ will see him in a better light and given his best hurdling performances came on soft or heavy ground he will also come into his own on winter ground.
Wednesday November 9th
Sego Success – Alan King – The eight year old made a really encouraging seasonal reappearance. Just 2lb higher for a good win at Doncaster last December. He shaped like he would come on for the run. Given a patient hold up ride he was in contention coming to the last but lack of a recent run told on the run in and he had to settle for 3rd at the line. All 4 of his career wins have come on flat tracks, 3 career wins have come on soft, he is 4 wins from 9 starts in fields of 11 or less and he is 4 wins from 11 runs when racing with in 60 days of his last start. Will come on for this run and looks on a winnable mark when he gets his optimum conditions.
Saturday November 12th
Warrantor – Warren Greatrex – Looked to be on workable mark of 132 coming into this valuable 3m 3f handicap chase. Had won at Lingfield on heavy ground last December and shaped that day like he could make up into a useful staying handicap chaser. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to build on that performance and unseated and fell on his next two starts. Before the race his trainer had suggested that he could be an ideal type for the Welsh Grand National, given he is all about stamina and loves the mud. He travelled like a well handicapped horse through the race and jumped much better here but despite having every chance at the last he couldn’t quite catch the winner. Can certainly win a staying handicap this season and can go well in the Welsh Grand National.
All that’s left is to wish you a profitable weeks betting.