Good morning from the Major who writes from a decidedly cold Worcestershire scene with an overcast sky and damp floor.
Yesterday was not the Black Saturday of last week but neither was it redemption. The Major remains firmly on the cold list and there is only one thing to do…. punt my way out.
I thought it was an odd day of racing. McCoy seemingly had an excellent book of rides but failed to sparkle on many. Captain Conan was all but beat before rallying and taking advantage of Third Intention tying up. Perhaps it was the glue like conditions that saw so few horses running to their best…
Sunday sees a great day of racing at Mussleburgh and Punchestown and I shall once more daub my face in war paint.
Punchestown Card – Tied Cottage
The opener revolves around the Mullins French import Upazo who has been beaten at prohibitive odds twice already but has shown ability in both defeats. Jennies Jewel from the latter defeat has confirmed the form to be solid going down in a reasonable manner to Glenns Melody next time up.
So Upazo is good if not spectacular so the key question is whether anything is hiding amongst this list of maidens…
Byerley Babe is the key threat – the Thurles bumper he won does not seem to be up to much but the style was impressive.
In the each way prices, I like Follow the Sign the most but feel it is best watched today. On balance I am going to back Upazo at 5/4.
The second, 1.20pm, is a fantastic novice affair, the Moscow Flyer Grade 2.
Don Cossack is trying to restore a once lofty reputation. Along with Starky, Ned Buntline and Mozoltov, he will enjoy the mud he faces here. Don Cossack fell when chasing Pont Alexandre last time and while he was never threatening the leader, bear in mind two things. He never travelled that day suggesting something was slightly amiss and secondly, Pont Alexandre is prominent in the novice staying markets at Cheltenham suggesting that it is no mug. You can read the trainer Gordon Elliots thoughts here.
Back in this company and freshened up he is a big threat. Remember he gave a good beating to Sizing Gold in a bumper and while that horse has also had a beating from Pont Alexandre, it represents a strong formline.
Mozoltov also has some form tied up with the premier horses, including being placed behind Champagne Fever. Mullins has won this race twice in the last five years with Gagewell Flyer and Mikael D’Haguenet. The latter was always highly regarded, the former less so.
It is hard to read Ned Buntlines form having being disappointing on his penultimate run but shaping much better winning last time. That race has a weakish look to it but you can only beat them well.
This is a race that is hard to read. On balance I am going with Mozoltov. As much as Don Cossack boasts the highest reputation, Mullins is in sparkling form and I am backing him to make it three wins from six runnings of the Moscow Flyer. Incidentally if you need a bit of cheering up as I do, have a watch of the 2007 Tingle Creek in which Azertyuiop and Well Chief fail to peg back the most awesome of two milers.
The third is a Pertemps qualifier and Colbert Station is an obvious call on recent form, beating a big field in his latest assignment. His earlier runs behind Roi du Mee are strong too. His chase mark is two stone bigger than this hurdle mark so the chances are clear. Technically his record on heavy is dubious but many of those runs were credible.
Sizing Europe looks to have another penalty kick in the fourth.
The Cross Country is a bit of a specialist event for both the horses and the punters! While Bostons Angel looks the most talented horse in the line up, I am never confident about backing with confidence a cross country horse. If I feel like an interest I will go with the equally obvious call of Arabella Boy, 7/2, who represents Enda Bolger, the specialist yard for these contests.
In the 3.20, I am opting for Corals 16/1 about Beeverstown. There are more obvious calls for Lambro and I also like Quiscover Fontaine who while tackling a distance too short for him is the most proven of these in the mud. My tip though has shown some good novice ability and I think his jumping will stand up to this. He comes with a health warning as he often fails to complete and even unseated at the start last time out.
In the 3.50, spare a thought for Vesper Bell who has to shoulder a stone and a half more than the rest of the field. I am not a fan of Arbor Supreme who these trips on this ground must be a real labour at the age of 11. On balance, while having to shoulder a big burden over a staying trip, Vesper Bell gets my vote on class.
I am opting for The Ramblin Kid in the bumper, Nina will get us out of trouble!
Good luck to us all.