Monthly Archives: October 2011
Long Run might be the superstar many think he is, but I believe he still has quite a bit to prove to merit his 9/4 ante-post Gold Cup price for 2012. The 6-year-old beat Riverside Theatre in the King George with an arguably past-it Kauto Star not running to form, Albertas Run pulling up suspected lame (sound on inspection) with the rest a relatively poor bunch.
Impressive as he was in the Gold Cup, filling the places were Kauto and Denman, almost twice Long Run’s age. Remember that the 2nd fav, Imperial Commander pulled up and was found to be lame as well as bleeding from a broken vessel.
So there has to be value somewhere in the Gold Cup market, but where is it? RSA winner Boston’s Angel, though game and consistent, doesn’t seem up to Gold Cup class (trainer reportedly thought him a Midlands National horse prior to Cheltenham).
Arkle winner Captain Chris’s owner commented after Cheltenham that the horse probably wanted two and a half miles but a crack at the King George would be on the agenda. A fine jumper but his stamina would need to be taken very much on trust.
Wishfull Thinking is in the same ownership as Captain Chris. Despite defeat in the Jewson at the festival, he went on to win at Aintree and Punchestown, showing he’d found his niche with front-running. His trainer says he has bags of pace and he is another likely King George contender.
Plenty pace and good jumping are admirable qualities but a stayer’s what you want for the Gold Cup. The first two in todays’ Bet365 Charlie Hall, have plenty stamina and with 16s and 20s available, you can try and narrow it to the best value, or have a bet on each of them.
William Hill pushed Time For Rupert out to 16s after today’s defeat. He was very fresh in the race, I thought, and ran with the choke out for much of the way. He’s also a big, gross horse who who should improve markedly for the outing.
It’s the first time he has led pretty much throughout. I suspect it was more by accident than design and jockey Will Kennedy decided to let him stride on rather than fight him, but it led to him taking too much out of himself and he’ll do much better held up off the pace in future.
He jumped cleanly throughout apart from a tired effort at the last, though he lugged noticeably left at a few fences and gave Weird Al a bit of a bump two out. Weird Al was giving him 3lbs so on paper it’s hard to argue that TFR can beat him in the Gold Cup, especially as Weird Al is relatively inexperienced and entitled to improve too.
On his record, the ground seems key to Weird Al – Wetherby rode much slower than the official ‘good’ ground, and most of his racing’s been on soft. He’s also one of those frustrating horses with lots of talent but little luck. A fracture kept him out of the 2010 RSA. In this year’s Gold Cup he broke a blood vessel. After an early hurdles victory, he needed oxygen.
The one disappointing run he seemed to have no excuse for was last year’s Hennessy, 8th of 18 beaten 42L. That was far and away the biggest field he’d faced over fences and I wonder if that might be a weakness? Having said that, if Long Run does not blot his copybook, he might scare a few Gold Cup prospects away, leaving a comparatively small field.
After today, Weird Al’s rider Timmy Murphy said he’d barely been off the bridle and idled towards the end. I’ll back Weird Al and Time For Rupert at 20s and 16s respectively. If you want just one bet, Weird Al is probably the better value.
There looks to be at least one serious Gold Cup contender in Time for Rupert (Diamond Harry’s trainer is of the opinion the horse dislikes Cheltenham).
Nacarat is a fair bit below top class, is 8 weeks short of his 11th birthday and has the added problem of trying to give weight to all, including 7lbs to TFR.
The very talented Hennessy winner Diamond Harry, with his 9th birthday looming, has managed only 13 runs in his career, just 4 of those over fences. His dodgy legs on this good ground would make me nervous about taking the 5/2 on offer. Many argue he goes well fresh, I’d say he’s had plenty practice at doing just that.
Cheltenham specialist Poquelin ( 5 from 12 there), will probably be baffled to hear so many non-Gloucestershire accents and he’s never raced beyond 2m 5f. Ruby will also be stroke-counting, no doubt.
Weird Al is the same age as Diamond Harry but with just 8 runs in his whole career, he makes that one look a veteran. This is his first run for Donald McCain but on his only run on good ground, he was pulled up. His record says he needs it softer.
200/1 chance Acrai Rua is well out of his depth but his presence is welcome as it opens the race up to 3 places for EW betting.
Chief Dan George is nearly 12 years old although he has sprung a couple of surprises before in Class 1 races – Aintree at 20/1 and Cheltenham at 33/1 and if I was down to my last fiver and had to raise £200 before midnight, I’d probably risk it on him.
Time For Rupert is forecast to start at around 3/1 and is my idea of the likely winner on form. A high class stayer over hurdles, he was most impressive in his first two steeplechase victories at Cheltenham. He returned there a pretty hot favourite for the Sun Alliance Chase at the Festival where he was never travelling. He broke a blood vessel in the race having been ill with an infection some weeks before.
TFR’s trainer reports him back in good form but horses who break blood vessels (especially when I’ve had a few quid on that day) make me a bit nervous about risking too much on them. He’s a good jumper and has more potential than anything in the field. I’ve had a small bet on him for the Gold Cup at a decent price as I think there was an over-reaction to his defeat in the Sun Alliance which happily resounded with a similar over-reaction to Long Run’s Gold Cup victory. I believe Long Run has yet to prove he’s the superstar many think – he’s too short at around 9/4 for that race in my opinion.
I won’t bet TFR tomorrow. I want to see him back in full health first and the one I’ll be betting each way if all 8 runners stand their ground is Chicago Grey.
On the face of it, he looks out of his class here, but he’s the one horse in the field who will almost certainly be 100% fit on the back of his run at Cheltenham two weeks ago where he unseated when coming with a strong challenge at the second last. He barely took off and it says a fair bit for what he had left in the tank that he stayed on his feet and completed the course loose.
He has a curious looking jumping style at times and is prone to the odd lapse in concentration at the wrong time. But he managed to negotiate all 25 fences in the 4m NH Chase when beating subsequent Scottish National winner Beshabar (Chicago Grey finished 8th that day at Ayr, running quite flat though given a lot to do, as he often is).
Tom Scudamore rides him for the first time tomorrow (regular jock P Carberry is at Ascot for his main trainer N Meade) and I hope Tom doesn’t drop him out as much as Carberry tends to, especially with Nacarat almost certain to set a strong pace.
Chicago Grey races very honestly and I feel there might well be more to come from him. The long Wetherby straight should help him pick them off steadily and, hopefully, run into a place to give us a small profit at around 10/1. Should TFR not run to his best, the grey might have a chance of winning.
Whatever happens, it should be an intriguing palate-whetting race as the NH season moves up a gear.
UPDATE: on reflection, those with a Betfair account should probably back him in running as his style tends to see him held up. He could trade at quite a fancy price both win and place.
A stronger and taller Long Run exercised today in preparation for his return to action in the Betfair Chase at Haydock Park on Saturday, November 19 and Britain’s top chaser has his first schooling session of the season with Sam Waley-Cohen up at Yogi Breisner’s tomorrow.
Nicky Henderson could not be more happy with his 2011 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner.
The trainer said: “Long Run has grown an inch and is quite heavy at the moment. He is also quite laidback, which is good. Everything is cool. We have not woken him up in his work yet and I really need to get on the grass with him. “He will probably do plenty tomorrow in the schooling session. We all know he can gallop down and jump five fences in a row but he just needs to get the technique right.
“Long Run is nice and relaxed at the moment. He will get a change of scenery tomorrow because of his indoor session at Yogi’s and then in a couple of weeks he will jump five fences before going back to Yogi just ahead of the Betfair Chase. “It is just about getting his technique right – before last season there were plenty of doubters about whether his jumping was accurate and neat enough for English fences but the doubters have wilted a little bit after the King George and the Gold Cup but we have got to keep working at getting Long Run into our style of jumping fences and away from the French style.
“His jumping tends to be little bit French at times. Yogi is a big help to the horses and the jockeys. From Sam’s point of view it is a good session for him because he cannot be riding every day of the week. The horse has got a good attitude to life and so has Sam. Sam keeps fit and never seems to be under pressure going into any of these races – he takes it all in his stride. I think I am the one who lives on the pressure button. “I get asked the question, wouldn’t you love to have McCoy or Geraghty on the horse, and the answer is no. Long Run is Sam’s horse and he has done a brilliant job on him. Sam knows the horse very well.
“I like to think we will get on the grass on Saturday. The horses could just do with two bits of work on the grass. This weekend will be the first real test of our horses. We had a second yesterday at Haydock with Pippa Greene but he had been running all summer so that does not tell us anything. “We really haven’t run much. Of the new ones, I was pleased with Bear’s Affair at Aintree – A P said he thought Bear’s Affair would turn out to be the best horse in the race but he was still green – it was only his third jump race of his life.
”If the horses are behind, they are behind – we cannot push them. Long Run has been back here plenty of time – he came here straight from the field in early July. I think he had a good summer at Robert Waley-Cohen’s, with eight weeks of doing nothing. “I went to see Long Run three weeks before he came back here and I thought he was someone else when coming out of the stable. I nearly did not recognise him because he was considerably bigger and had grown quite a lot. Horses will go on growing but at six they should be getting to full maturity. If a horse has grown, he must be getting stronger. There should be more to come.
“I don’t know what that means but he is a fantastic-looking horse. He is a beautiful horse and it is quite nice when the form book follows the rule book that the correct good-looking horse that does look like a natural athlete is the natural athlete. “Long Run takes his races well – he soon bounces back. The pressure will be on us this season as he has to defend his crown.
“We want to start in the Betfair, which is a relatively new race, as it is ideally placed in the calendar before the King George. I want to win the Betfair and then the King George. He will be wound up the best we can but the horses might be a bit behind because of the dry weather we have had.”
Long Run’s schedule is the £200,000 Grade One Betfair Chase, the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day, maybe Newbury’s AON Chase and then the Cheltenham Gold Cup on March 16.
The trainer commented: “I hate looking further forward than one race at a time but if we wanted a race between the King George and the Gold Cup then the AON Chase would be the obvious one. There is a huge gap to Aintree this year (after the Cheltenham Festival) and that might be a target too (Betfred Bowl). “Long Run will remain at three miles and he proved he stays three and quarter in the Gold Cup last season so I don’t think he will be dropping back in trip for the Ryanair.
“It probably wasn’t the best decision to start him off in the Paddy Power last season – going flat out around Cheltenham over two and a half miles. As soon as he got back to three miles, it was so much easier for him to get into his comfort zone.”
Of the potential challengers to Long Run this season, Henderson is most afraid of Master Minded. “I cannot believe that was his form at Aintree last weekend and he would be the standout horse if taking to three miles. “Then there are horses like Wishfull Thinking. I am sure there will be plenty of horses ready to bounce out of the woodwork – it is never easy. We just have to concentrate on what we have to do – anything can go wrong at any minute and getting them there is half the battle.”
Long Run was one of 36 horses out with Henderson’s third lot this morning under regular work rider Nico de Boinville.
The Racing Post reports today that among the plans discussed by jockeys to highlight their case against the new rules, is to stage a race where, when every jockey has used up his quota – (I’m assuming it will be a NH race so 8 strokes), they will all pull up.
At first I thought it was a joke. If they are serious, what it means is that they will set out to deliberately hit each horse in that race the maximum number of times – whether the horse’s behaviour or position in the race merits it or not. In other words, they will abuse animals . . . for publicity.
In case you’d like to read that again. Our jockeys are considering abusing animals for publicity.
What manner of intellect is at play in the weighing room? If the above is true then these people shouldn’t be allowed near an animal, in sport or in any other field.
A new rule of bringing the sport into disrepute needs to be established as quickly as possible. If it is and could be retrospectively applied, the instigators of such an idea should be warned off for a very long time.
I’ve been involved with racing for over 40 years, if such a race ever takes place, I’ll be gone for good, vomiting in disgust on the way out.
A normally very reticent Ryan Moore called in to the RUK studio to comment on the whip issue and defend Kevin Darley. There are gaps in the recording due to broadcasting/satellite issues but all of the interview is there. RUK presenters are Angus McNae and Dave Yates.
Click the link below:
What he said today: What he should have said
“There is now a process of proper consultation and discussion involving jockeys which should have happened before the original announcement by the BHA last month. I apologise for not ensuring that this detailed consultation took place when I was first approached by the BHA
“Had we been properly consulted over some of the important details that relate directly to jockeys prior to that announcement we feel that we would not be in the position we are today. If I had paid much closer attention to the implications of simply signing off an endorsement of the new rules in such ringing terms, we would not be in the position we are today.
“Jockeys have no issues with the restricted amount of times they can use the whip under the new rules. The careers of jockeys are short by definition and the implications of financial penalties and long suspensions are savagely disproportionate. I accept that jockeys careers have not suddenly got shorter since I signed off the BHA press release nor have the savagely disproportionate penalties been changed. With this in mind, I apologise to the BHA for misleading them and to my members for so badly misrepresenting their position. I feel I have no choice but to bring forward my resignation date and step down now”
I hear cries for the BHA to be ‘sitting all night’ to resolve this. Why should they? They spent 10 months and a lot of money consulting. They won the support of the PJA and NTF. If the PJA in particular lacked the foresight to seek a short pilot project before endorsing the new rules, that is not the fault of the BHA.
I agree the timing for introduction was poor. I think Paul Roy is not competent for this job and never has been. But on the single issue of the new whip rules, I think the BHA did a comprehensive, highly professional piece of work. Their track record as whipping boys has allowed the real culprit here – the PJA – to escape virtually scot-free.
For Mr Darley to be trying to now hurry the BHA along is brass-necked in the extreme. His competence, which should already be in serious doubt, is in question again with these veiled strike threats.
A strike would bring public scorn and media humiliation on jockeys. It would set the sport back years. The British public is pretty intolerant of strikes in any sector these days; there is always a degree of sympathy for miners, steelworkers, firefighters etc, but if the PJA believe they’ll be viewed kindly when striking, they are seriously deluded.
The BHA is a long way from perfection, but in this case, they are being very unfairly pilloried. Anyone with a sense of justice should let the bandwagons trundle on without their support.