Good morning from the Major who writes from the bed, lying lazy and peaceful. Gazing out across the tranquil Worcestershire scene, I see my neighbours Weeping Willows and they capture the mood. Drooping not out of weariness but out of sedate alleviation of all of life’s concerns.
The Paddy Power meeting at Cheltenham rolls on and yesterday, I consider the result to be one of hitting the bar. I felt very right about Royal Irish Hussar and that was justified, even if a little obvious. I was not overly perturbed by Shutthefrontdoor who ran brilliantly but could not get up to Le Bec. It had an edge for me though which was the winner was piloted by Noel Fehily and regular readers will know that I am always at pains to back against him add into that the extremely positive mention I gave to the winner Alvarado (who I suggested a saver on).
Quentin Collonges ran well but unseated when beaten having made an error at the previous fence and charting a wide course throughout – No disgrace. Then came the turning point in the day. I felt my selection Colour Sargeant was desperately unlucky not to record a famous win. He was almost bought down three out and had to pretty much stop. Losing at least a half-dozen lengths, I thought it was an incredible performance to be just a half-length down and closing hard at the finish. I am not saying he is a better horse than Johns Spirit as I suspect the winner did little after meeting the front but without the calamity that hit ours, well we could have got there, couldn’t we? I know, I saw it.
Port Melon ran with credit into a place but I was expecting a bit more. He already looks a chaser and more is to come I am sure. The Henderson horse let us down a bit in a bumper that I think will be decent form despite the winner being a 22/1 shot.
Anyway, today, the racing is first class again on both sides of the Irish Sea. I have had a look through and shall record my thoughts for your delectation.
Cheltenham and Punchestown Sunday Tips
One observation of Cheltenham is that the ground to me has been riding just a touch slower than I expected. I thought we would have genuinely good ground but not many are picking up in it that well and so I am a little more cautious going into the last day.
The Cheltenham opener looks a real puzzle to me. I like the Big Casino form as it ties well to Shutthefrontdoor but the rise he got for a seasonal debut win means he is lumping top weight around. On the list all the same. Lieutenant Miller comes with a placing in a Cesarewitch and Henderson has won this race several times in recent years. Lots of potential improvers, and one eye catcher is Western Warhorse – A mark of 125 is quite a place to start in handicap company but I think this horse could turn out to be quite decent – He has the assistance of Maurice Linehan who takes a first ride for the Pipe yard and he gets my tentative vote. Even as I type those words, I am mindful of the top weight Big Casino whose conquered foe last time out, Talkin Sence, went up to Kelso to frank that form…. Hmmmm
The second, the Supreme trial, has only a disappointing field of four but it is good quality stuff all the same. Sea Lord won a listed contest last time out and has translated group flat form into this sphere really well. That is up against The Liquidator who came fourth in the Champion bumper and then demolished his penalty kick hurdle maiden. Lac Fontana may well improve but really needs to if he is going to give these two a race, though it is worth noting that Nicholls won this last year with Dodging Bullets. In the end, you have to make a decision and mine is for The Liquidator but there is not a lot to go on.
The Arkle trial looks set to be fought out between the three principles. I like Ted Veale and remember having a winner with him when he beat Tennis Cap at the festival, he has been busy over the summer and so I am sure remains fit. Raya Star beat Dodging Bullets but I think today we will see the latter emerge as the superior animal.
At 2.40 expect a twitter meltdown as Mad Moose the mercurial star takes to the course at 25/1. Will he start? Who knows! What is more sure is that Sire de Grugy looks good banker material against this lot of monkeys. My selection is on form and odds against, he has not really run a bad race over fences and I think we can put that in our Sunday money printer!
As for the Greatwood… This is a race that has been won by some very decent horses in years gone by including Sizing Europe, Detroit City and Menorah. Despite the field being 7/1 bar, it is noteworthy that only two-horse in the last ten years at odds in double figures, one being Brampour in 2011 at 12/1.
Four of the last Twelve winners did so from top weight, there is nothing wrong with the profile of a top class horse thus Court Minstrel, the Scottish National winner has to be considered. I am not convinced though and I think I am looking for something else. My profile is going to be a damn good horse, aged 5 with the handicapper still behind – The 4yo horses often look enticing, we have a list of likely candidates here, but their record is weaker.
Olofi and Numide both won from marks below 140 and while I am not wedded to that line, it shapes the horse I am looking for. I think I have my candidate in Pine Creek who races off 137, is clearly improving and the half stone rise for coming away from a useful Ascot field (Dildar) with Chris Pea Green, looked good.
One point of note is to keep your trigger finger sharp. If Raya Star does give Dodging Bullets a fair beating then it would be a tremendous advert for Tanerko Emery in the Greatwood…
In the bumper, while I like the prospects of Red Sherlock, I shall have a small investment instead on Champagne at Tara who is proven on the firmer ground.
At Punchestown, I am backing Felix Younger, 7/4, whose form with White Star Line looks better now. I also feel Don Cossack, 10/11, should get the better of Morning Assembly – He appeals to me as the one with genuine top of the tree aspirations. I am backing the pair in a tasty double. Telling you that Hurricane Fly will win the Morgiana is like telling you the sun will rise in the morning.
Courage and roll those dice.