Racing must unite over whip issue
Make no mistake, this is one of the most important issues that horse racing will tackle in the next decade and folk need to wake up and appreciate the big picture otherwise the sport that we know and love will face a serious and persistent threat to its existence.
Over-dramatic? I don't think so. If a small percentage of people in this country have their way, the whip will become redundant. Do you think they will stop and rest on their laurels if this is achieved or empowered by their success will they make National Hunt racing the next sight in their target?
I would be a short price the latter will occur and those that campaign to change our sport will suggest that jumping obstacles at speed at distances ranging from two to four-and-a-quarter miles with a rider aboard is cruel and puts undue stress on the equine breed.
Racing has achieved a great deal to put their house in order with reference to the whip and should be trusted to govern itself accordingly. It is up to all of us to argue our case with passion and coherence otherwise jump racing may well be staring into the abyss in the not too distant future.
Battleoverdoyen can prove a Festival star
This five-year-old oozed class and quality when easing clear of 20 rivals at Navan before Christmas and looked ready for a step up to Grade 1 company in the Lawlor's Novice Hurdle at Naas. Thankfully, he didn't disappoint and a smooth victory confirmed Gordon Elliott's smart novice is developing into a serious contender for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham in March. Battleoverdoyen boasts speed and stays two-and-a-half miles strongly so appears to boast all of the attributes required for an examination like the festival.
Be patient, wait for Danny to shine over fences
There is every chance we are yet to see the best of Danny Kirwan who has been forced to make the running in small-field novice hurdle events this season. He boasts the size and scope to make a highly-useful chaser when connections decide to send him over the larger obstacles and he could prove a real star in that sphere with connections keen to mind him this term.
Expect more from Magna this summer
A scrambling victory in Doncaster’s Futurity Stakes last autumn didn’t really showcase the best of Magna Grecia, but he could well leave the level of that form behind with another winter behind him. An imposing model physically, he didn’t appear to lack pace last term and the 2,000 Guineas looks an ideal starting point.
And finally . . .
Please indulge your correspondent by allowing me to dream about an FA Cup win for my beloved Wolverhampton Wanderers!
A Good Ground Cheltenham Festival
This is purely fed by my ante-post betting need for “Good” to be the first word in the going description on Day 1 of the 2019 Cheltenham Festival. But we are due one, aren’t we? The 2018 Festival will be remembered for its heavy ground throughout the week, which put paid to the vast majority of my fancies. Once again, I am doing the Sun Dance between now and March, with the likes of Verdana Blue (Champion Hurdle), Supasundae (Stayers Hurdle) and Road To Respect (Gold Cup). The past few years there’s been plenty of rain about and “Soft” in the descriptions, but “Good, Good to Soft in Places” will do me fine in 2019. I think we’ll get it, then the E/w treble is on. The one I want it for the most is Verdana Blue, who will win the Champion Hurdle if it comes up nice & quick.
Missed Approach to win the Grand National
Missed Approach is 40/1 in a few places for the 2019 Grand National and that looks to me like a big price about a recent Cheltenham Festival winner that very much caught the eye over the famous Aintree fences in the Becher Chase last time out. He missed the start of the race by about 20 lengths, but gradually moved his way to the front of the pack. He made 2-3 sloppy errors which stunted progress but for the most part he jumped the fences really well. The Warren Greatrex trained 9yo was also badly hampered just when he didn’t need it, but he stayed on and kept finding at the one pace to finish 6th. This fella is all stamina and with that experience under his belt, I think he’s capable of putting together a far more polished effort. He’s the right age, has great experience but remains unexposed over marathon trips, he’s sure to get into the race and at 33/1-40/1, I think he’s about double the price he should be.
Unbeaten Altior to win the King George
If the 2019 King George was running next week, you’d look at “6/1 Altior” and think someone was handing out enhanced odds offers, or losing their marbles. We already know that a gradual step up toward the 3m Kempton test is on the cards for Altior. I think he will go ahead and win his second Queen Mother Champion Chase in March, before stepping up to 2m4f in the Grade 1 Melling Chase at Aintree, a race I feel will suit him down to the ground. He’ll destroy the field there, with the extra four furlongs just simply providing more turf for this absolute beast to eat up. From there, connections will know that 3m is well within reach. He’ll be put away for the Summer, perhaps have a tune up run somewhere, then head to Kempton for his date with destiny. 6/1 is a big price. If the race was running this week, he’d be a 4/6 shot in the same market. Let’s just hope he stays in one piece and gets there.
The first dual Dubai World Cup winner?
Godolphin’s Thunder Snow beat some of America’s best when landing the $10million Dubai World Cup back in March. With stars including West Coast and Accelerate all retired or heading that way, there doesn’t seem to be much standing in his path ahead of this year’s renewal on March 30th.
Silvestre De Sousa for the four-timer
There are few harder-working jockeys than Silvestre De Sousa, and the Brazilian can make it four Stobart Jockeys’ Championships when the season officially ends in October. Still keen to chase wins, even if it means missing out on the big meetings, he might even improve on the tally of 176 he managed in 2018.
O’Brien to bounce back
A total of 14 Group/Grade 1 wins maybe significantly down on his best years, but a mid-season virus forced a slowdown of operations at Ballydoyle. With Magna Grecia, Ten Sovereigns, and plenty more to look forward to in 2019, he’ll be back with a vengeance.
Winx will stay at home
It’s a bit of a negative prediction, but, despite the carrot of several multimillion dollar races, the connections of Winx seem reluctant to travel their great mare. She’s very likely to be retired after two or three more starts in Australia.
PISTOL will win again in February
He was on and off the bridle in a first-time tongue-tie but stuck on gamely to finish a 16-1 fourth, only missing out on second place by just under two lengths. The ten-year-old has form figures in February of 1566111 (4-7), compared to a 0-35 record in other months. His February record for his current trainer stands at 6111 (3-4) and he should be capable of landing a minor handicap in the north next month, perhaps at Carlisle where the stiff track suits.
BATTLEOVERDOYEN looks a potential champion in the novice ranks
It’s rare for a maiden hurdle winner to make the transition to Grade 1 hurdle winner in a single step but that’s just what the Gordon Elliott-trained Battleoverdoyen did in the Lawlor’s Of Naas novice hurdle on January 6.
Yes, he started as the 2-1 favourite but three others in the same race (9-4, 4-1 and 10-1) were also attempting this trick and they finished fifth of eight, seventh and pulled up. If we include his point-to-point form, he has figures of 1111 (4-4), and he fully deserves his place at the head of the betting for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle.
KACHY to make his mark in North America, perhaps at the Breeders’ Cup, after landing the All-weather Sprint Championships Conditions Stakes on Good Friday
KACHY won the Group 3 Molecomb Stakes at Glorious Goodwood back in 2015 but his six other wins have come on left-handed tracks and he was very impressive at Wolverhampton on Boxing Day, scoring by six lengths on his first start after wind surgery. His full record on turning tracks stands at 1111211 (6-7) and he’d be a multiple Graded winner had he been campaigned in the United States.
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