Cheltenham’s day one ground policy means Overturn might as well stay in his box in March
Well done to all those who had faith in Grandouet. One experienced forumite on TRF thinks getting Grandouet running a bit further out would benefit the horse. But B Geraghty (very little between him and Ruby I think in a fine era of jockeys) seemed almost frustrated after the race that he hadn’t been able to hold him up for longer.
When he put Grandouet under pressure, the horse visibly lengthened stride I thought – most impressive – while also still looking a bit green, to my eye, if that doesn’t sound daft. I think the inexperience of pressure caused that and perhaps that’s why some might want to see the horse begin his run a bit sooner.
Geraghty would need nerves of steel and huge confidence to pull off both a hold-up ride (which he seems determined to give the horse in future) and getting him running from some way out because he’d have to lie way off the pace to accomplish both, a very risky PR strategy on such a strong traveller.
I’ve little doubt Overturn has improved substantially as a hurdler and he ran a fine race today giving the winner 4lbs and running him to 4L. His rider reported the ground a bit dead and the horse not showing his usual spark.
If that’s true, under normal circumstances, he’d make huge EW appeal at the 20s on offer, especially if prepped specifically for the race rather than today’s ‘afterthought’ strategy. But Cheltenham’s policy of producing good to soft ground on day one means this potential CH winner might as well stay at home. I’m aware of all the PR and safety arguments but I think it is a flawed policy which discriminates against top-of-the-ground horses at the biggest meeting of the year.
Finally, in all the rightful celebration of Grandouet. I wouldn’t forget that Zarkandar absolutely slaughtered him in the Triumph. No question that Grandouet has improved enormously but Zarkandar is the same age, a more compact and, arguably, symmetrically built horse than Grandouet, and has every chance of having also made at least the same improvement.
What is in no doubt after today (Brampour ran a sound race too) is that we have a very talented handful of four-year-olds. Strict interpretation isn’t quite fair, I know, but given that today Grandouet beat Menorah farther than Hurricane Fly did in the Champion Hurdle, and that the wellbeing of the Irish horse is unknown (he’s had splint problems in the past) the Fly is lousy-looking value at 7/4.