Another weekend of high quality horse racing with Cheltenham’s two day International Meeting providing most of it. A slightly different look to this week’s column, as I will start by looking at those running at the weekend that should be noted for some big races later in the season including a 25/1 ante post selection for the Mares Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in March. But first:
Q. What do the following horses have in common?
Singlefarmpayment – 9/2 – 1st
Still Believing – 14/1 -1st
Pingshou – 14/1 – 1st
A. They all won on Friday at Cheltenham and they were all recent tracker horses for Eyecatcher Pro Subscribers!
Well that’s Christmas paid for and if For Good Measure had have won instead of finishing 2nd in his race. Then it would have been a ‘Fabulous Friday Foursome’ and a few Christmas’s would have been paid for. After a very quite few weeks the Eyecatcher Pro really got into the winning groove, just in time for all those big races over the festive season.
Looking Back At the Weekend
Let’s start with all look at those horses that you should be adding to your trackers from the weekend racing at Cheltenham.
Paul Nicholls Has Lively Scottish Grand National Contender
Arpege D´alene – The six year old faced a very useful horse in Singlefarmpayment and did well to get as close as he did here. The winner had too much speed for the Paul Nicholls trained runner. Winner of a three runner Aintree novice chase back in November, the gelding’s best form over hurdles has come in big fields, including a close up 2nd in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham in March. He stays well and can rate even higher over fences when he gets a better pace to chase Not surprising then that connections are looking to next years Scottish Grand National at Ayr as a possible end of season target. Trainer won the race last year with Vincente. He is one to note for that race when the bookmakers start to price up the race next year.
I mentioned For Good Measure earlier and his 2nd in the 3m handicap hurdle to a much improved Jonjo O’Neill trained horse was still an excellent performance from the five year old. The son of Kings Theatre has already qualified for the Pertemps Final back here in March and that marathon handicap hurdle now looks a likely target for trainer Philip Hobbs. He stays well, handles the track well and looks the sort who will be better suited by the tempo of a big field. For those interested in the horse for that race he can be backed at 20/1 with Betfair Sportsbook.
Aso Can Land a Nice Pot For Venetia.
Only two four year olds have run the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup in the last 10 years – Unioniste in 2012 and Frodon in 2016 – with both of them winning and both being trained by Paul Nicholls. Frodon rightly takes all the praise for winning Saturday’s big handicap chase but it’s the Venetia Williams trained Aso that I would be taking from the race as far as the future is concerned. The six year old was 4th on his seasonal reappearance in the BetVictor Gold Cup at the last meeting here and the rain that fell turning the ground soft before race time really suited him. Despite making mistakes at the 4th and 2nd last fences so no horse was finishing better than him on the run in and he stayed on well to pip the brave Village Vic for 2nd in the shadow of the post. If he can cut on those jumping errors in crucial stages of a race then there is surely a nice pot in the horse before the season is out.
Earlier in the card there was a really promising run from the Colin Tizzard trained Sizing Tennessee in the novice chase won by Whisper whose trainer will have been disappointed with running of his other horse in the race Different Gravey who had made such a good impression on his first start over fences at Ascot and was a very disappointing 8/11 favourite. Sizing Tennessee was a useful hurdler when trained by Henry De Bromhead in Ireland. A good second on his stable and chase debut here behind O O Seven this was another good run with the future in mind. The eight year old has only raced 12 times during his career and is open to more progress over fences. The rain that fell on Saturday suited the gelding, indeed he really goes well in the mud. Three of his four career wins have come with heavy in the going description and this looks to be his time of year too. In December and January he is 4 wins from 6 runs 5 places. All his hurdle wins came over 2m and if the going was heavy he can be dropped back to that distance and win but as he showed here he does stay 2m 5f. Looks one to note when the ‘mud is flying’.
Briery Queen Heads to Festival
The final race on the Saturday card was a mare’s only handicap hurdle. The 7 year old Briery Queen was a taking winner for trainer Noel Williams. Given a very patient and confident ride by Barry Geraghty she was always going like the best horse in the race and once she took up the running before the last there was only going to be one winner and she did it with some ease in the end by 3 ½ lengths at the finish. After the race connections reported she didn’t appreciate the testing ground. Given she didn’t really like the ground and this was her first start since winning the Listed Mares Final at Newbury back in the spring this was really good run from the daughter of King’s Theatre. Trainer had had the Mares Hurdle at the Festival in mind for her since winning at Newbury and although she will have to progress further to win at that level she is going the right way and has to have an each way chance in that race. I have had a nibble on her chances for March at 25/1 which is still available with Bet365 and Coral at the time of writing.
This Weeks Eyecatchers
Onto this week’s eyecatchers and I have two for your trackers this week but as ever I will be adding more exclusively for Pro subscribers for both all weather and jumps fans.
Friday December 9th
Bangor -on -Dee
Waldorf Salad – Venetia Williams – The eight year old was jumping well enjoying himself out in front but the lack of a run told in the closing stages and weakened out of it after the 4th last, before being pulled up. Nicely progressive over fences last season 3 wins from 10 runs 5 places over the larger obstacles he starts this winter on what looks still a decent mark. Appreciates deep winter ground all his career wins have come on soft and heavy and he is 4 wins from 10 start 7 places in December & January. His running style makes him vulnerable in big fields and he is 5 wins from 15 runs in field sizes 11 or less. Will be a lot fitter with this run under his belt and it’s worth bearing in mind he is still unexposed horse over distances 3m +.
Saturday December 10th
Fourovakind – Henry Whittington – The veteran is another horse that likes the mud. Last seen pulling up in the Midlands Grand National in March, prior to that run he had been a clear cut winner of the Devon National over 3m 6f. Starts the season 6lb higher but could still defy this sort of mark on testing ground over marathon trips. Three miles, on good to soft ground on a sharp track like Lingfield wouldn’t play to his strengths but he was staying on into, an albeit well beaten, 4th at the finish. Tends to need a race or two to come to hand so will strip fitter for this seasonal reappearance. The veteran is 4 wins from 13 runs 7 places when racing 16 to 60 days since his last run and 4 wins from 12 runs 6 places between January and March.
All that’s left is to wish you a profitable weeks betting.