There was a plethora of racing over the weekend so let me focus on a couple of the big horses. The obvious place to start is with SUTTON PLACE (163), who fairly romped away with the Grade 2 Boyne Hurdle at Navan on Sunday. The sectionals in the four hurdle races ran are shown here, with the cumulative times taken for the equivalent 2 mile sections in the table after.
|Miss Mardan||Sutton Place||Mad Brian||Miles To Memphis|
|Miss Mardan||Sutton Place||Mad Brian||Miles To Memphis|
As you can see Sutton Place clocked by far the fastest time for the 2 mile section. This is hardly surprising considering the average fayre of the other races but it was the manner of his victory that was most impressive. He came home from 3 out in 42.2s, with the next best time 44.71s recorded by Miss Mardan, and it wasn’t as if they went a slow pace in the Boyne Hurdle….they in fact clocked the second fastest time to that point (195.38s). Furthermore, Sutton Place was only fractionally cajoled into the straight and fairly cruised up to DE PLOTTING SHED (157) and with one crack of the whip bolted away from his rivals. I would say he is capable of a fair bit better than the number I have given him here, in fact I gave him a bigger number in his previous victory. To this day I will never understand why they didn’t run him in the Betfair Hurdle, I guess connections thought they had the race covered with Movewiththetimes. If this horse ran in the Champion Hurdle I would fancy him but it sounds as if that won’t be on the cards. Either way he is a top prospect for novice chasing next year.
There was a somewhat controversial renewal of the Ten Up Novice won by ACAPELLA BOURGEOIS (142), with him seemingly strolling away from some decent rivals to record a remarkable 32 length winning margin. The clock provides some insight into the renewal, though the only comparison available on the day is the 3 runner novice chase over a shorter trip where the favourite fell. The sectionals for the equivalent 2m1f sections are as follows:
|Ball D’Arc||Acapella Bourgeois||Ball D’Arc||Acapella Bourgeois||Difference|
As you can see, Acapella Bourgeois was always around 5-6s behind BALL D’ARC (153). Adjusting this for the relative difference in distances points to a number of 142 for Acapella Bourgeois. However, considering that both horses were seemingly under little pressure to record these figures I wanted to get a better handle on Acapella Bourgeois. Happily, his last run was over the same course, albeit over 4 furlongs shorter last month.
As you can see, he was clocking faster sectionals this weekend, and this was done on softer ground and a longer trip….but carrying 9lbs less. Adjusting for all of this I rate him 10lbs better than his run in January, putting him on the same number 142. So, I am happy to go with this figure for this performance. He is though clearly capable of better considering how well he travelled here and does rate a solid chaser on soft or heavy ground…though he would likely bump into Our Duke in such conditions who would be in a different league altogether.
It follows then to ask just what were the other jockeys doing….horses like Haymount and Anibale Fly should’ve been able to lay up with the winner comfortably here and the conclusion has to be that they gave the winner too much of a lead.
JEZKI (148) was beaten in the Red Mills Hurdle by TOMBSTONE (152), and would now look likely to go for the Stayers Hurdle at Cheltenham. He hated the heavy ground here and would be a different prospect back on better ground. That said though, I only gave him a mark of 155 for his comeback win and the conclusion would have to be that he is just not the horse he was.
BACHASSON (152) won an interesting Beginners Chase at Gowran, travelling well and easily winning this race from some decent horses. The winner himself was a decent novice hurdler and got off the mark here over fences impressively, though connections seemed unsure as to his Cheltenham prospects. There were three races over fences over the same trip and Bachasson clocked the slowest time of the 3 but they went much slower in this race as shown in the table below:
They ran to 6 out in 203.02s here, much slower than the other two races, but came home from there in 115.33s, 9.33s quicker than BALLYCASEY (154) over the same distance. Bachasson is capable of stepping up from this and rates yet another strong Irish novice chaser.
There were a couple of horses to note in behind, namely MALL DINI (136) and JETT (129). It would seem to be a rather poorly kept secret that Mall Dini is a dark horse for handicaps at the festival and his chances are obvious considering his Pertemps win over 3m on good ground, wherever he runs at Cheltenham he is of interest. Like his full brother Jezki, Jett fairly hated the heavy ground here and considering that his run was impressive, and it was nice to see him travel well enough but not being able to pick up in the ground. He ran a huge number in behind the awesome Yorkhill last time out, and back on better ground he is a top class novice chaser that one shouldn’t ignore. He is 50/1 for his only entry at the festival, the JLT chase and he is much better than that and the place part of that would be of interest. Equally, if he ran in the 2.5m handicap chase on the same day he would be way ahead of whatever mark Phil Smith chooses to give him.
In Britain there was a key Grand National trial run at Haydock and won by VIEUX LION ROUGE (155), who beat BLAKLION (158) over 3m4.5f. Comparing this with the other chases on the card over the equivalent 20f distance they all covered the sectionals are as follows:
|Vieux Lion Rouge||Captain Redhead||Wonderful Charm|
They went a good pace in the Grand National trial before understandably tiring towards the end over 8.5f further. Adjusting for this and the weights points to a strong performance by both the winner and runner up, who would both look to have about 6lbs in hand on their national marks based on this run. I would’ve thought there will be something better handicapped but they are both likeable sorts who should run well in the big race.
AQUA DUDE (142) travelled like much the best horse in the novice handicap chase before going down by the narrowest of margins to the ultra tough CAPTAIN REDBEARD (143). Depending on what the handicapper does (they were 20 lengths clear of the third), they would be of interest should they sneak into the novice handicap chase at Cheltenham. Aqua Dude especially is certainly well handicapped (ran here off 130).
WONDERFUL CHARM (131) fairly cruised away with the Foxhunters Chase and is well fancied for the Cheltenham equivalent. I remember in previous years, connections being convinced he needed a flat track to be at his best so that would be a concern even given his obvious class in this sphere.
Over hurdles at Haydock there some interesting runs. DADSINTROUBLE (144) won the Pertemps from BIG RIVER (141), and THEO’S CHARM (146). All three look progressive and capable of running well in the equivalent race in March. They ran a good time in comparison to the other races on the card when timed from the first hurdle (though there is a long run to this which I have accounted for).
|Zarkandar||Dad’s In Trouble||The World’s End|
As you can see, the three races over the same trip were ran remarkably similarly and so the Pertemps runners come out well and worth bearing in mind in the Cheltenham version.
ZARKANDAR (152) has been around for it seems a lifetime, and is best fresh as he was here. He is capable of running this sort of solid figure and could pick up another soft race when lined up for one. AUX PTITS SOINS (148) hasn’t lived up to the hype Nicholls has lavished on him, and remains a frustrating horse. He’s always run to this sort of number, but if anyone can unlock the potential in him it is Nicholls. AGRAPART (156) has long been a horse I’ve loved, though probably prefers softer ground…he comes out the best horse at the weights here and if it was a bog at Cheltenham he could run a big race when others might not fancy it so much.
THE WORLD’S END (146) won the novice hurdle on the card, and ran with credit going a faster pace than the other two races before tiring. The Albert Bartlett seems to be his target and he would be the type to run well in that race.
DON BERSY (139) won the juvenile hurdle that opened the card, which was a strongly run affair. It would seem connections aren’t thinking of running at Cheltenham, though he would be of major interest in the Fred Winter should they change their mind. He could be one to bear in mind for Aintree, as he is capable of running better than this mark.
At Ascot BEYOND CONCEIT (140) just beat TOPOFTHEGAME (140) and DE DOLLAR MAN (140) in the novice hurdle. Topofthegame is the one to take out here, and is a smashing chase prospect for next season.