Festive greetings and good morning from a mild Defford where the grey sky seems stuck overhead as if something has lodged itself in the weather system permanently.
The Major was awestruck with the King George race and I would suggest that unless the Gold Cup can serve up something better, which although ridiculous at the start of the season, now seems entirely plausible; then what we witnessed on Boxing Day could well be the race of my lifetime.
This seems a bold statement but for all of the reasons outlined in my previous post, Kauto and the Ditcheat team achieved something that was simply unbelievable.
What was beautiful about the race was the simplicity of Ruby and Kautos approach. Get near the front, get a good view of the fences, get that superb travelling rhythm and smartness at the obstacles in play for Kauto and let the others worry about the rest. How majestic it was too. It never seemed as though you were watching a horse about to turn 12 years old, he was imperious.
How effective those tactics were too. Once Nacarat and Golan Way had burned the early speed, Kauto took it up and had them all off the bridle turning into the home straight.
Long Run valiatly tried to peg the old master back and given a further half furlong, might just have done it. This augers well to go back to Cheltenham where Long Run will have an extra two furlongs to get to Kauto.
As much as I admire the corithian approach of the Waley-Cohens with the son riding the fathers horse and taking on the top pro’s, I do wonder if I am the only one who wants to tell them, enough is enough. Give the reigns to Geraghty and lets see whether this superb young chaser can give us more with one of the worlds finest jump jockeys on board. Indeed, I suspect, we would have had a different result if Geraghty had ridden on Boxing Day..
Long Run is scruffy at so many fences, often skewing left, often taking the top 6 inches of birch with him. Henderson has had him at Yogi Breisner the ‘go to’ specialist to try and get horses jumping straighter but I think the pilot is what needs to change. The chances of that seem slim given that he has won a Gold Cup and giving up the dream of a second might be tough.
Talking of Gold Cups, the way in which Grand Crus did the business in the Feltham must point to a Gold Cup effort. He could be a genuine challenger too, he has done nothing wrong over fences and Silvianaco Conti and Bobs Worth were very good yardsticks.
Leopardstown Christmas Festival Tips
There has been some great racing already at Leopardstown. The heavy ground has had an impact and there have been some disappointments in the poor showing from some leading fancies.
It was a particular shame that Bog Warrior fell on the back straight as this one looks top draw, it was a crashing fall and so I hope the horse shows no ill signs as a result.
Topaz Fort Leney Chase – Grade 1 – 1.25
Three Gigginstown representatives are out and two of them are joint favourites.
Last Installment and First Lieutenant have both achieved plenty over fences but it is the latter that the Major thinks is bet of the day.
2/1 is the current price with Boylesports but I expect this to tighten up an awful lot.
In the race which Bog Warrior walked away an easy winner, First Lieutenant was pulled up after walking through a fence. Should there be no ill effect then I am very interested in this runner. That day he was 5/4 favourite and although we have to use our imaginations to understand what might have happened without that error, I suspect he is a very good horse.
I think the money will come so want to be on early.
Put simply, I think this Cheltenham Festival winner (put Rock on Ruby into a close second) could be first class and today it is a no brainer. I think 2/1 could look very generous later on.
Jockey booking support the view, if you have a Boylesports account, clean them out!
2.00 Christmas Hurdle – Leopardstown
This Grade 2 hurdle, unlike the Kempton version is over three miles not two and so we see some of the better Irish staying hurdlers out. It must be quite depressing owning some of these horses in the age of Big Bucks.
Mourad and Voler La Vedette appear to have this race between them.
The two principals met in the Hattons Grace where Mourad gave 7lbs to Voler and got a 3l beating. It is worth noting that it was Mourads first appearance of the season (although he was kept on the go in the summer) and surely better could come now.
The weight difference is also important with an extra two pounds in Mourads favour.
Despite this though I am going to side with 6/4 shot Voler La Vedette. I think the ground is going to suit Voler much more than Mourad and this will help the Majors tip get the trip.
The Lexus 2.35 Leopardstown
The Lexus is another of the highlights on the Christmas racing calendar and it is a cracker.
Will Rubi Light stay? Will top class Quito handle the ground? What sort of condition is Noland in? Why did they not get a run into Magnanimity?
It really is a puzzle.
Noland is a fascinating runner, he has been sent over the sea by Ditcheat and you have to think that it is significant. There were plenty of easy contests to place him in at home if they were unsure but this is bold as brass. Noland gave Denman a beating over hurdles in his first Cheltenham festival. An injury hit career has meant that we do not know what ability remains, although he should have plenty of gas in the tank. It is worth noting that Nicholls sent What a Friend over to successfully take the Lexus two seasons back, very very interesting.
There is not often a big upset in the Lexus though and so I am siding with 15/8 favourite Quito de la Roque who has done everything right so far. 2/1 is very fair. While the ground might be more ideal with extra cut, he has won on good before so I do not expect him to be too inconvenienced.
There it is, a tasty treble, Quito, Voler and First Lieutenant. Nothing too outrageous in there.