UN DE SCEAUX BRILLIANT ON HIS GROUND AGAIN
The Clarence House was run at a startling pace, and gave us another opportunity to see just how brilliant UN DE SCEAUX (168) is when he runs on soft ground. The extent of this performance is evident when comparing it on the clock with the other chase runs on the card.
|Drumcliff||Acting Lass||Un De Sceaux|
From the first fence he jumped to the line, he clocked a time 5.82s quicker than Drumcliff, and 6.72s faster than Acting Lass. There was a frantic early pace on in this race, and Un De Sceaux actually reached two out around 9s quicker than the other two winners on the card. The other two made up some time from there, but Un De Sceaux was just ridden out under hands and heels to the line. When all the factors are taken into account, I’ve given him a mark of 168, which is a bit below his best but he could probably have gone faster in the latter stages.
He is clearly brilliant on this soft ground, in fact I don’t think there is horse that can live with him over two miles on this sort of ground. I was interested to see him marked up at 6/1 NRNB for the Champion Chase, and if you don’t mind tying up your money that looks worth taking. The only way he is going to run in the race is if we get soft ground on the Wednesday, and in that case he surely goes off favourite. With the usual faster ground he will surely run in the Ryanair and you’d get your money back. Even if he did still rock up in the Champion, he’d probably be shorter than 6s in an open year. Don’t forget the one time he ran in the race he was only beaten by Sprinter Sacre, and had future winner Special Tiara just behind him in third.
He’ll probably go for the Ryanair on better ground though. The problem here is that he is already 5/2 NRNB, and with that in mind I’d probably chance that he isn’t as adept on quicker ground. He is ten years old now, and his legs may struggle to rattle off a sounder surface.
The frantic early pace was set by SPEREDEK (160) who put up a fine front running effort to finish second, and he probably had the beating of BRAIN POWER (158) before that one came down. He looks set to go for the Ascot Chase back here in February and if he can translate this sort of form over the longer trip he’d be a live contender for it. He’s only just turned seven and clearly going the right way and has in fact already won over 2m7f.
LA BAGUE AU ROI COULD WIN A STAYERS WITH HER ALLOWANCE
Over hurdles on the Ascot card, LA BAGUE AU ROI (149+) won the Grade 2 hurdle easily and suggests she could be a threat in the Stayer’s Hurdle.
|Nayati||La Bague Au Roi||Jenkins||Vinndication|
The overall time she clocked was a bit slower than Jenkins (2.85s) and Vinndication (1.64s) as you can see above. But those two races were over shorter distance, and La Bague Au Roi was eased in the closing stages. With that in mind I’ve only been able to rate her 149, which coincidentally was her official rating going into this race. She is capable of better than this and with a weight allowance in the Stayers she should be capable of being in the mix.
She has been beaten in her only run at Cheltenham to date in the mares novice last year, but that was over 2m1f, and she has now won both her starts over three miles. On pedigree that trip looks to be fine for her, and she’s won on better ground too… she could provide her trainer with another Stayers Hurdle.
IS THE NEW ONE REGRESSING?
Whilst it was good for the soul to see THE NEW ONE (148) win the Champion Hurdle Trial for the fourth year in a row at Haydock, looking at it from a purely analytical point of view I find it hard to get too excited about the run.
|Joke Dancer||First Flow||The New One||Donna’s Diamond|
In comparison to the other race over the same distance, starting with the novice hurdle winner First Flow, he clocked an overall time just 0.4s quicker from the first to the line. He was actually only six seconds quicker than Joke Dancer in the opening handicap, and that horse was winning off a mark of just 115. However, he was quicker in the closing stages from two out to the line:
|Joke Dancer||First Flow||The New One||Donna’s Diamond|
As you can see he was 2.24s quicker from two out to the line when compared to First Flow, however the was just 0.74s quicker over this section compared to Donna’s Diamond who was winning over just shy of three miles.
Factoring all this together and I’ve given The New One a mark of 148, which is a pound lower than the figure I gave him for his run in the Christmas Hurdle. In fact his marks so far this season give me cause for concern that now he has hit double figures in age he may be regressing. His marks in chronological order this year are 164, 166, 153, 149 and now 148. He has a good record on soft ground, and I did in fact have one of my biggest each way bets in a long time on him in the Greatwood Hurdle, but his form on the clock since then has looked below par to me.
He now looks set to go up in trip for the Stayer’s Hurdle, and whilst he has an excellent record on the new course, I struggle to get too excited about his prospects.
CH’TIBELLO (140) was one of my outsiders of interest in the Champion Hurdle last year, and indeed was on my radar for this year’s renewal. He tried to win this race with one late move, but was outstayed on this ground on the long run in to the line. On better ground he can be in the shake-up in the Champion….albeit a respectable distance behind Buveur D’Air. I’ve rated him around 160 before, and hopefully he can find that form again on better ground.
SAINT CALVADOS A THREAT IN THE ARKLE
Before those races, earlier in the week we saw a fresh name enter the Arkle picture as SAINT CALVADOS (165) won a novice handicap chase impressively at Newbury.
|Horatio Hornblower||Saint Calvados||Difference|
The other chase on the card was run over 2m7.5f by Horatio Hornblower, but as you can see from the above Saint Calvados clocked a time 13.36s quicker from the first to the line over the two mile course, and was carrying 8lbs more in weight. Even allowing for the shorter distance of the race this was a red hot performance from the winner. He was even eased in the latter stages so he could have gone faster too.
I was intrigued to hear his trainer say he was 10lbs better than his previous star horse Arzal. I rated that horse 166, so if he is capable of that sort of run then this horse is a major threat to Footpad who has looked the best two mile novice around this season.
As ever, things are never that straightforward. This was just the sixth run of his life, and the second he’s had in this country, and all of those efforts have been on soft ground. This leaves some doubt about his ability to handle potentially quicker ground for starters, as does his ability to handle the undulations of Cheltenham. If he can adapt to the different conditions he is a live player in the Arkle.