Champ Focus – Irish Trainers Championship Discussed
Down Royal was a bloodbath for any trainer looking to take on Gordon Elliot. He unleashed eight winners over the two days including the highly exciting Cheveley Park quartet of Envoi Allen, Quilixios, Ballyadam and Sir Gerhard. This has led to a lot of talk about whether this year is the year that Elliott finally dethrones Willie Mullins at the top of the trainers pile in Ireland. However, this is something that I would question wholeheartedly.
The grounds for this argument seems to be centered around the fact that Envoi Allen, Ballyadam etc. will collect many prizes this year. This could be true, but these are novice races they will be collecting with not the same sort of prize fund. Mullins is only €200,000 down – which I suspect he is very content with given none of his army have come out to play ball. When Min, Allaho and Chacun Pour Soi clamp down on the open 2m/2m4f division – the matter of €200,000 can be whittled away quickly. Adding to this the fact that Mullins has been in the market for horses over the last few years that will win him some of the premier handicaps. Additions such as Total Recall, Cabaret Queen and Canardier over the last few years have bolstered his hand in the top handicaps and thus, it might not yet be the time for Gordon to dethrone Willie just yet.
Horse of the Week
There were some excellent performances over the whole weekend at Down Royal but I will be casting our minds back to before then to pick out this week’s ‘horse of the week’.
Last Wednesday saw the chasing debut of Latest Exhibition and he put in a very polished performance to take the Beginners Chase at Punchestown. Paul Nolan’s horse came a valiant second in the Albert Bartlett last year in a four strong finish, with Monkfish, Fury Road and Thyme Hill all vying for the winning line at the back of the last. Latest Exhibition’s chase debut was a good one, having made an early mistake – he took to his job well and dug down where it mattered to win strongly at the line.
The form of that race looked strong for a Beginners Chase at this time of the year and it will be very interesting to see how this horse goes next time out, when he goes up in class in the Florida Pearl Novice Chase.
Into the Tracker
Although it wouldn’t be one that would be obvious to put in the tracker, I wouldn’t be giving up hope on Wolf Prince for the Gavin Cromwell yard. Making his handicap hurdle debut at Down Royal off a mark of 136 – he was bitterly disappointing after racing freely to come a well beaten tenth.
However, there is some cause for optimism as he paid the price for his early exertions and this run can be overlooked immediately. He had some strong juvenile form last year and perhaps this first blow out over hurdles was required and despite a recent flat run, he may still have needed this. I would assume he might get dropped a few pounds for that effort and I would be very interested in this horse next time out to make amends with the benefit of a bit more experience
Just a Thought
Cyrname announced himself back on the scene with a stunning victory in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last Saturday – a win that has propelled himself to the top of the King George Market. However, as much as I would be standing firm on Clan Des Obeaux for this race – I am intrigued by another potential runner in the race.
The biggest disappointment of last year in the Irish Jumps season was the fizzling year that Kemboy endured. Maybe it’s just me, but I have always thought that a race like the King George could be made for this horse. With Mullins always keen to get a barometer of English form in his ranks – it wouldn’t surprise me to see this horse take up the speculative entry he has been given. With an emphasis on speed, we could see this horse back to his best – with a right handed track like Kempton playing to all his strengths.
Thursday Pick from Newbury
4.15 – Fletch (7/2) – 1 Pt Win
Very highly regarded bumper horse for a team with a terrific strike rate in this sphere. Ignore at your peril.
Another obscure place to look for a winner on the weekend but my attention focuses on the 1.50 Maiden Hurdle at Sandown on Sunday where the promising Lord of Kerak makes his second start over hurdles.
This horse is held in the highest regard by his connections and with the presence of Adrimel in the race – he should be a backable price after a highly promising effort on debut at Uttoxeter. Connections were more than satisfied with that performance and will be hoping that this horse can deliver on his promise the second time of asking.
The Big Clash !
There will be no better place to have your notebooks out this weekend then the Rising Stars Novices Chase at Wincanton on Saturday with the race entries befitting the name of the race. We see the potential rematch of If the Cap Fits and Fiddlerontheroof – with Grand Sancy, Ga Law and Hurricane Harvey all well able to stand their ground in this type of field.
It is no secret that Colin Tizzard’s horses this season have been failing to fire thus fire – but it might only take a winner or two to get the ball rolling and suddenly he will be in red hot form. I will take a chance that Fiddlerontheroof will have learnt plenty for his run behind If the Cap Fits at Ffos Las next time and can make the requisite improvement to reverse the form.
The Long Range Effort
Last week saw an interesting renewal of the West Yorkshire Hurdle at Wetherby with Dan Skelton’s mare, Roksana, coming out a very impressive winner. She did it very well that day under a waiting ride, accounting for Next Destination and last year’s Stayers Hurdle Winner, Lisnagar Oscar, in the process. However, all that managed to do was certify my stance that the 3m hurdling division is down on its knees at the moment and is in need of something new to spice it up.
My fellow column writer, Barry Doyle, is very sweet on McFabulous, and I can see strong justification for me being so. However, there is no doubt in mind that Thyme Hill is the answer to this staying division’s pleas. As I mentioned earlier, the Albert Bartlett form from last year looks very strong on face value and I think a massive case can be made that this horse was extremely unlucky to not be even closer than the two length fourth he ended up.
While he does have to prove himself out of novice company, his form from the entire year is rock solid and he has the style and stamina to suit being a serious Stayers Hurdle contender this year. I think the general 12s around for him at the moment is fair and should be taken.
Thyme Hill (12/1) – 1 Pt Win
By Andrew Blair White 05/11/2020