Can A Ten-Year-Old Win The Gold Cup?
Total Recall won the Ladbrokes Trophy for Willie Mullins as he just got the better of the Nicky Henderson trained Whisper in a thrilling finish with the pair pulling clear of the rest of the field. The form looks solid. Taking nothing away from the well-handicapped winner but the runner-up comes out of the race with great credit as he was trying to give the Willie Mullins horse 14lb. This performance marks him out as genuine Gold Cup contender but can a ten-year-old win National Hunt’s Blue Riband race? Since 1997, ten-year-olds have had just 1 winner from 49 runners 6 placed so the age trends suggest he can’t. That said he is only in his second season chasing and seems to be still improving despite almost reaching veteran status. Despite the age stats, the 20/1 available with Bet365 for Cheltenham is very tempting I have to say.
Eyecatcher Trainer Comments
Last week this section identified Bigmartre for a race at Newbury on Friday which he duly won at odds of 4/1. Let’s hope I can provide another nice weekend winner. This week I have trainer comments for two horses, with my additional notes, that we may see running in races at the weekend at Aintree, as ever both comments come courtesy of the Racing Post Stable Tours:
Highland Lodge – Jimmy Moffatt – “He’s 11 but has no miles on the clock – I don’t mind having an 11-year-old Mercedes that’s only done 30,000 miles! We’re absolutely delighted with him and he’ll go straight for the Becher Chase again. He’s working every bit as well as he was last year. The race suits him and so does going there fresh. It’s worked a treat the last two years. As for the Grand National, we were always up there last season and in hindsight, we’d like to have dropped him out as he was going three strides to fast for himself”.
The 11-year old won the Becher Chase in 2015 and was beaten just a short head in last years race on his seasonal reappearance and meets the winner Vieux Lion Rouge on 9lb better terms this year. He goes well fresh and this race just seems to bring out the best in him. He is only 1lb higher than last year and the 16/1 available with Bet365 for the Becher Chase and that looks a bit of each way value to me.
Sametegal – Paul Nicholls – “Talented chaser who sadly has legs of glass and was forced to sit out last season with a tendon injury. It was only a minor thing, but minor is enough to draw stumps. The indications at home are that he has retained all his ability, so we took him to Wetherby on Friday and I was thrilled with his performance, trying to give a lot of weight to the winner. He could go to Aintree for the Grand Sefton next month”.
The 8-year-old showed he retains plenty of his old ability when second at Wetherby last month. That was his first run since winning at Newbury back March 2016. He had tendon problems which kept off the track for so long but hopefully that is behind the horse now. No problem with the 2m 5f trip of the Grand Sefton and if he handles the Grand National fences he won’t be far away off a mark just 1lb higher than when winning at Newbury. He is in the right hands as his trainer has won this race twice in the last 9 years.
This Weeks EyeCatcher’s
Another four horses for the trackers this week:
Wednesday 29th November
Scoir Mear – Thomas Mullins – The 7-year-old has always been seen as future chaser by his trainer. A decent handicap hurdler at his best he had finished very strongly when 5th in the 2m 5f Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival. He was beaten just 6 lengths at the line and would have finished a lot closer with a clearer passage. He didn’t make much impact on his first two starts over fences but this was much better. He wasn’t far away from the leaders when making a mistake on landing three out. Overall his jumping was much better this time and he will get better with more experience. Handicaps will be for him now and given his ability to handle a big field those sorts of races should suit him ideally over fences as should a step up to 2m 4f+.
Friday 1st December
I Shot The Sheriff – Fergal O’Brien – The ten-year-old was having his first start since moving from the Tony Martin stable and also having his first run since pulling up in the Martin Pipe at the Cheltenham Festival. Lightly raced for his age he clearly hasn’t been the easiest to keep sound as this was only 13th start under rules. He was nicely backed on the morning for this 3m handicap hurdle. He was making some good headway when making a mistake three out and was soon pulled up soon after. It was reported after the race that he had lost a shoe. The market support that came in for him suggests that connections think he’s on a winnable mark off 137.
Saturday 2nd December
Master of Irony – John Quinn – The 5-year-old was 4lb higher than when winning a handicap hurdle at Wetherby on his return to hurdles in October. Up in class here in the Gerry Fielden Handicap Hurdle, he put up an even better performance in defeat. Being held up wasn’t the place to be as it paid to race prominently. He was finishing the race of best of all to take 4th at the line and was only beaten 2 ¼ lengths at the finish. He is capable of winning a nice pot over hurdles this winter and could well come back here for the Betfair Handicap Hurdle over C&D in February a race the trainer won in 2011.
Sunday 3rd December
Mall Dini – Patrick Kelly – The trainer also saddled arguably the most impressive winner of the weekend in Presenting Percy who looked like he had just joined the race three out in this 3m 5f handicap chase. The 7-year-old isn’t as good as his stablemate but this was eyecatching in its own way. A winner of the 3m Pertemps Handicap Hurdle at the 2016 Cheltenham Festival he remains 0 wins from 8 runs since going over fences but he ran some good races and was a good 5th in the Kim Muir Handicap Chase at Cheltenham at this year’s festival. He was only 5th to Presenting Percy at Galway on his seasonal reappearance but this was better. He was staying on to be a never nearer 4th at the finish and showed these marathon trips hold no terrors for the horse nor do big fields. He has often let his backers down in the past but surely he will land one of these handicap chases sooner rather than later, most probably on a sounder surface than he faced here.
Make sure you check out this week’s micro angles & stats article, as I will be looking at the weekend’s big racing action at Aintree & Sandown and providing some more interesting and hopefully profitable stats.
All that’s left now is to wish you a profitable week’s punting.