Racing's respected commentator gives you his views on issues in the sport.
Glamorous it is not.
Ok I accept that there are worse places to be than Paris on a sunny, warm (do you remember warm?) afternoon but I am currently cooped up having to commentate on the delights of Vincennes...trotting. Matt Chapman on Attheraces would always say "if you don't want the shift, then someone else will" and he's right, of course. But it’s still a bit dispiriting to be huddled in a little cupboard watching Petit Pouchet do battle with Paulo Cherry with nothing but a weary copy of Paris Turf for company.
However I do have access to Racing UK who are currently showing the Cheltenham Festival again so please allow me two final observations from Prestbury Park before we move on.
Firstly, exactly how well was Twist Magic going in the Arkle before capsizing at the second last? I know how impressive My Way De Solzen was but the more I watch it; the less convinced I am that he would have won anyway. Twist Magic had been asked precisely no question until his fall, indeed Ruby Walsh throwing his whip to the ground was the first time he voluntarily moved during the race. If the two were to meet again, I believe there would be a massive difference in their prices and that being the case I would not hesitate to back the Nicholls horse. I honestly don’t believe there was much to choose between them. Roll on Aintree.
The second eyecatcher was Mister Hight in the Coral Cup. He travelled like a class horse for much of the trip, held up right at the back of the field by Ruby Walsh. In hindsight, they appeared to ride him like a non stayer to get the trip. Ultimately, I don’t think he did get home, but still ran a corker for one so young, finishing in fifth place. His best form is over two miles and when returning to that distance, I will look under every cushion at home to have a decent bet on him.
From top class horses to two lesser individuals who ran in the week and look ones to take on. The first one, Scupio, ran in the two year olds race that opened The Curragh’s' card last Sunday. Now on the plus side, he clearly has a lot of speed as entering the final furlong, he looked the likely winner. However in the final two hundred yards he cocked his jaw so badly that his head was almost to one side. He duly lost momentum and his lead soon whittled away. Now young horses can be forgiven a lot but this was a bad sign only compounded by the fact that he ran on again once he was half a length behind.
Be a little careful as he can clearly trap but I will be hovering over that lay button next time out.
The second unfortunate to catch my eye was a chaser of Paul Nicholls' named Lord Of The Road who finished second in a handicap chase at Taunton, again last Sunday. If he could only jump straight he would have won but even around this, the tightest of right-handed tracks, he still found a way to jump violently right-handed at just about all of his fences. This became particularly noticeable when brought under pressure. Wherever he runs next I will be a layer, especially if he is sent to a left handed track in which case he looks a cast iron candidate to go "a over t".
I leave you this week with one who is surely about to regain the winning thread. Once again we pick a Paul Nicholls trained beast, this time Bold Fire who after one or two shaky efforts over fences looks a horse to follow once again. Remember what a good mare she had looked at Wincanton last November, slamming both United and Refinement on good ground? Well after taking a tumble twice at Kempton in warm novice chases since, the evidence at Newbury last Saturday was that she had been intensively schooled to good effect. She jumped magnificently but also pulled far too hard hence giving herself no chance of competing at the business end of the race. However we know that she can truly operate over fences, the drying ground we have now is a plus. The trip may well be an issue but I would be quite happy to see her drop back to two miles; the form she is in at present she could have a modest race won at halfway! I hope Paul avoids the big meetings with her for the time being as I would love to see her grow in confidence. With her hap-hazard record there will be plenty taking the opposite view to me so we should get a price about her. I’m sure, given that she has proved how well she can jump, we'll have some glory with her in the weeks to come.
Back to Pearl Oceane v Pamela Du Parc!!
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