Performance of the weekend:
Following up from a recent win at Fontwell, the Jonjo O’Neill trained Go Conquer annihilated a high quality field in the Sodexo Gold Cup at Ascot. Bold jumping and relentless galloping got his opponents in trouble early and he won this like a good horse.
After transferring yards in 2015 it seems Jonjo O’Neill may eventually be getting to the bottom of the imposing Go Conquer. The handicapper will not be holding back following Saturdays win and it’s likely he’ll be rated within the vacinity of 150. Given his current well-being its doubtful connections will put him away for a Spring national. One thing is for sure, wherever Go Conquer goes next he’ll be a huge player.
Widely identified as one of the leading Irish Gold Cup hopes for 2018, Our Duke left plenty scratching their heads on Saturday at Down Royal. Starting a shade of odds on, he disappointed badly never travelled or jumped a fence before ending up finishing last.
In the aftermath the 2017 Irish National winner drifted from 8/1 to 25/1 (Paddy Powers) for the Cheltenham Gold Cup leaving plenty of doubt. Trainer Harrington reported Our Duke to have scoped wrong but admitted she was puzzled stating “I just don’t know and I’m scratching my head. He was gone after the first fence.” Not an ideal campaign start for Our Duke but on the positive side he does have plenty of recovery time for his first major target. The Lexus Chase.
Handicapper on the up:
Benatar was excellent at Ascot on Saturday. First time up over fences Gary Moore’s youngster made a mockery of handicap company suggesting he is well fit for graded races.
Given a novice rating of 141 before even jumping a fence in public Benatar ran out a cosy 3 ¾ length winner. The bare form may not tell the entire story as Benatar was keen early before eventually finding his rhythm. Always traveling in a lower gear than his rivals what was most impressive was the turn of foot shown when others were beaten. Lots to look forward to here !
Trainer on fire:
Nigel Twiston Davies has fired in 8 winners and had 10 placed from his last 46 runners. The Gloucestershire trainer will be delirious about his trip north this weekend especially with a one-two in Saturday’s feature.
Although proving himself at this level over 3m its also hard to get carried away with Bristol De Mai’s cut up Charlie Hall victory. In the aftermath pundits seemed more interested in talking about the disappointment of Coneygree and Cue Card rather than a Twiston Davies training performance. Best priced 33/1 for the Cheltenham Gold Cup, he appears more suitable to a Betfair Chase on soft ground at the end of the month.
Cracking Smart was decent at Cork today and appears more than capable of taking high rank amongst staying novice hurdlers this season. Now 14/1 for the Albert Bartlett in March it would be hard to put anyone off.
Gordon Elliott hasn’t had the best luck in Cheltenham’s Albert Bartlett in recent seasons. Death Duty and No More Heroes failed to justify favouritism but connections did win the race with Very Wood in 2014, encouraging Gigginstown to support the race.
Chaser in the making:
Dell Oro was the first leg of an Ascot double for Gary Moore on Saturday. A rangy son of Walk In The Park this fellow is a gorgeous looker.
After running him in the Champion Bumper at Punchestown last season it was evident what connections thought of their horse. He’ll be minded like a bar of gold this season and is another Gary Moore star chaser in the making.
By Barry Doyle – 05/11/2017