Well, the first big handicap of the winter jumps season took place at Cheltenham on Saturday with the latest running of the BetVictor Gold Cup. There was plenty of rain around on Saturday and the going which had been good to soft on Friday had changed to soft, heavy in places by race four.
The race was won by the 9-year-old Splash of Ginge trained by Nigel Twiston-Davies. He was clearly suited by the rain that fell and was well handicapped on his best form. My own fancy for the race Starchitect ran a cracker to finish 2nd on ground that would have plenty soft enough for him. Take nothing away from the winner but If he hadn’t have made mistakes at the last two fences he would probably have won the race.
Next weekend we have more top horse racing action to look forward too with the Betfair Chase at Haydock and a good looking card at Ascot too. My weekly stats and micro angle article will look in more detail at the weekend’s action.
Eyecatcher Trainer Comments
This week’s significant quotes from connections, courtesy of the Racing Post, with my additional notes:
Brio Conti – Paul Nicholls – “Is one of those that you never want to get there too soon on and he’s got there because he jumped so well. He made a mistake at the second and learned from it, and from there was absolutely brilliant. He’ll come on for the run massively. He travels so well that two and a half miles is fine, although he get further in time” – Sean Bowen, rider.
Brio Conti was a decent hurdler last season, who won a valuable handicap hurdle at Kempton in March before running well for a long way, when 5th, in Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at Aintree on his final start. Making his seasonal reappearance in this Carlisle novice chase he was sent off at odds of 2/5 to make a winning debut over fences. He travelled powerfully through the race and although he only won by a short head he was value for much more. The race wasn’t really run to suit him as he would prefer a much better gallop to chase. He will be seen in a much better light on a sound surface and when racing against better opponents.
On The Blind Side – Nicky Henderson – “Is a nice, big baby but it’s all starting to come together. He wasn’t travelling as well as you’d have thought he ought to have been, but his stamina is a strong asset. The Albert Bartlett would be a target – he’s the first one of our novice hurdlers to put a marker down, although we haven’t run many yet”. Nicky Henderson trainer
The fact that the trainer is already thinking about the Albert Bartlett Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival shows how highly he regards the horse. His win in the 2m 5f Grade 2 Novice Hurdle was done in the style of a decent hurdler, especially as the 5-year-old should improve for going further. The good-looking son of Stowaway won his maiden at Kempton and is now 2 wins from 2 runs over hurdles. He has already gone onto my long list for the Festival
This Weeks EyeCatcher’s
I have four jumps horses for your trackers this week, one from Thursday’s meeting at Clonmel and three from this side of the Irish Sea.
Monday 13th November
The Last Samurai – Kim Bailey – Was having his first start since a disappointing 16th in the Grand National, a race he had finished 2nd in the previous year. The 9-year-old was having his first start over hurdles for three years in this Pertemps Qualifier. Always up with the pace, he looked sure to drop away two out but he seemed to get a second wind on the flat and managed to grab 2nd on the line. He should come on well for this first run and it’s worth noting he is 4 wins from 7 runs 6 placed when racing 16 to 30 days since his last run. He is entered in next months Becher Chase at Aintree over the National Fences and he will be racing off the same mark as when beaten a length into 3rd in last years race. One to note for that race and whatever his fate there, he can win more race over the winter.
Thursday 16th November
General Principle – Gordon Eliott – The 8-year-old was making his seasonal reappearance in this handicap hurdle. He ran really well for a long way and coming into the straight looked like he would win, he was only headed after the last and finished 4th. The run was probably just needed. When last seen he finished 5th in the Irish Grand National. A winner twice over fences in his novice season on heavy and soft going, he looks set to be competitive in the big staying handicap chases in Ireland over the winter and is very much one to note when returned to the larger obstacles.
Friday 17th November
Coeur Blimey – Sue Gardner – The six-year-old was useful bumper horse winning at Ascot in December 2015 before running respectably in the NHF races at both the Cheltenham and & Punchestown Festivals. He ran four times over hurdles last season finishing second on his last two starts at Carlisle & Exeter. Making his seasonal reappearance in this novices handicap hurdle, he looked before the race that he would need the run and in the circumstances his 10 ¼ length 5th was a very promising start to the new campaign. Given the way, he finished off his race a return to further than 2m looks will suit. Starts this new season still a maiden but can surely break his maiden tag sometime over the coming weeks.
Saturday 18th November
Kylemore Lough – Harry Fry – Had been all the rage ante-post for the BetVictor Gold Cup. Having his first start for the trainer since moving from the Kerry Lee stable there seemed to be plenty of confidence from connections that he was starting the season off on a competitive handicap mark and their confidence must have increased with the rain that fell before the race especially as six of his eight career wins have come on soft or heavy going. Racing prominently from the start he made a very bad mistake at the water and his jockey reported after the race that he was never travelling after and was eventually pulled up after the third last. Not one to give up on just yet.
All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable week’s punting.