No, I am not referring to the cricket down under but to the fact, this is my 133rd Eyecatcher article for Race Advisor. It’s been a tough few months for the Eyecatcher Pro Service but thankfully the corner looks to have turned, with a healthy profit made since November 1st. Last weeks article was another success for the trainer comments section as both last weeks highlighted horses finished 3rd in their respective races at Aintree on Saturday.
This is what I wrote about Highland Lodge last week: “The 11-year old won the Becher Chase in 2015 and was beaten just a short head in last years race on his seasonal reappearance and meets the winner Vieux Lion Rouge on 9lb better terms this year. He goes well fresh and this race just seems to bring out the best in him. He is only 1lb higher than last year and the 16/1 available with Bet365 for the Becher Chase and that looks a bit of each way value to me”.
Hopefully, you helped yourself to the odds on offer and made a nice profit on the horse who finished 3rd in Saturday’s Becher Chase.
The other horse I mentioned Sametegal finished 3rd in the Grand Sefton. The very testing ground was a bit too much for the Paul Nicholls trained runner who handled the National fences very well. The 8-year-old remains on a winning mark and is one to keep onside especially when the ground isn’t as demanding as it was on Saturday at Aintree.
Blacklion Bulldozes Becher Rivals
Whilst on the subject of Aintree it would be remiss of me not to mention the performance of Blacklion in winning the Becher Chase. The 8-year-old who was only beaten a ½ length into 2nd by his stablemate Bristol De Mai in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on his seasonal reappearance and who had looked the most likely winner of last years Grand National when still travelling well in the lead four out, totally dominated his field on Saturday as he once again showed the National fences hold no terrors for him. Sent off at odds of just 7/4, he stayed on to strongly for all his rivals. He put nine lengths between himself and the runner-up The Last Samuri, with Highland Lodge another five lengths back in third. All roads lead to another tilt at the big one in April for which he now the clear ante-post favourite with most bookies. Not surprisingly comparisons with Red Rum were made after the race which may be slightly premature. I say slightly, as it will take a classy or very well handicapped horse to beat Aintree specialist next year.
Eyecatcher Trainer Comments:
This week I have trainer comments for two horses, with my additional notes, that we may see running in Saturday’s big handicap at Cheltenham, as ever both comments come courtesy of the Racing Post Stable Tours:
Clan Des Obeaux – Paul Nicholls – “Began his novice chasing season really well, winning a Grade 2 and finishing second to Whisper, but then lost his bottle a bit and started jumping right-handed. That could have been the result of him struggling with his breathing so we go that sorted over the summer. Master Minded started jumping right because he was struggling to breathe properly and as soon as we corrected it he took off. Since his op, Clan Des Obeaux has been schooling very nicely and looking a lot more relaxed in his work.
The five-year-old was second on his seasonal reappearance to Whisper at Kempton on good ground before decisively beating a decent field of young chasers in a Graduation Chase at Haydock on his last start on heavy. The wind operation that the gelding had in the summer looks to have done the trick and he is now 3 wins from 8 runs over fences. Given his age there looks to be plenty more improvement in him and if he does run in Saturday’s Caspian Caviar Gold Cup he has to be top of your shortlist for the race.
At the time of writing, he heads the ante-post betting for the race along with the David Pipe trained Starchitect at around 8/1. A race Paul Nicholls has done well in recently with 4 wins from 14 runners 29% +31 5 placed 36% in the past 9 years. He could also run Le Prezien (more on his chance in the race in this week’s stats & micro angles article) in the race so whatever Paul Nicholls runs in the race has to be noted!
Kings Odyssey – Evan Williams – “A bit hot and cold last year but was running a very good race at Cheltenham in December when he fell. The wheels came off a little bit after that and we never really got him back, but I think somewhere down the line he’s got a big day in him. He’s won round Cheltenham before and just needs very soft ground and things to fall right for him. He could be progressive at around 2m4f”.
Since that Racing Post Stable Tour trainer comment, the 8-year- old has made a pleasing seasonal reappearance over an inadequate 2m when keeping on well to finish 3rd of 4 last month. He was still travelling strongly on the heels of the leaders when falling at the 12th in last years Caspian Caviar Gold Cup. A winner of C&D handicap back in January 2016 on heavy, he is at his best on testing ground and if he gets underfoot conditions he must have strong each-way claims. It looks like this race has been the target this season for trainer Evan Williams who is 0 wins from 4 runners 1 placed in the race in the past 9 years, with form figures of 24F7. He is a best-priced 16/1 with Sky Bet for Saturday which will look great value if the going is soft or worse at Cheltenham.
This Weeks EyeCatcher’s
This week’s horses for your trackers come mainly from the Saturday racing at Aintree and Sandown. But I will start with a bumper winner that impressed at Exeter on Friday.
Friday 8th December
Time To Move – Fergal O’Brien – The trainer is having a good season with his bumper horses and this gelding son of Flemensfirth continued the trainers winning running with a comfortable win in this Exeter bumper race. The 4-year-old, a half-brother to connections Barney Dwan showed he has future in the jumping sphere. On pedigree, he will get 2m 4f+ when he goes over hurdles. The soft ground was certainly no inconvenience for the 4-year-old and he will be one to keep in mind when he races over hurdles. Alternatively, connections could decide to keep him the level for the rest of the season. He achieved a Racing Post Rating of 127 for his win here means he wouldn’t need to find a lot more improvement to be competitive for the big bumper races in the spring.
Saturday 9th December
Arctic Gold – Nigel Twiston-Davies – The six-year-old a useful handicap hurdler at his best was having only having his 5th starts over fences in the Grand Sefton Handicap Chase. Yet to win over fences he had finished runner-up on his previous starts over fences. He is well suited to heavy ground, coming into the race he had 3 wins from 8 runs 5 placed on such going. Racing prominently from the start, the National fences held no terrors for him as he was till travelling well enough in the lead when falling four out. Hopefully, this mishap won’t leave any scars as he remains a well-treated horse over fences, compared to his hurdle mark, and can win races off it.
Crossed My Mind – Arthur Moore – The Irish raider was sent off the 100/30 favourite for this valuable 2m handicap hurdle. The five-year-old was only having his 6th start over hurdles but he continues to improve over hurdles. Looked to have a great chance two out but just didn’t have the pace of the eventual winner and runner-up between the last two on this good to soft going. Prior to this run had finished 3rd in a good handicap at Down Royal on his seasonal reappearance. He showed at the Punchestown Festival that he stays 2m 5f on his final start of last season. A step up in trip and/or softer ground can bring out further improvement in this lightly raced hurdler.
Topper Thornton – Alex Hales – The ex- Irish trained 8-year-old was only beaten a head at Carlisle on his first start for new trainer Alex Hales. He was put up 6lb for that effort and was pitched into a stronger race in the 3m 5f London National. He was just getting in contention when he made a slight mistake four out, which put him on the back foot and he could never get on terms with the principals after. He eventually finished a 6 ½ length 5th. He remains capable of winning a staying handicap chase off his present mark of 132 in slightly easier company.
Finally, make sure you check out this week’s micro angles & stats article, as I will be looking at the weekend’s big racing at Cheltenham and providing some more interesting and hopefully profitable stats for you, including which is the key stat for Paul Nicholls runners in the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup!
All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable week’s punting.