As much as I love the Cheltenham Festival, it has, in recent years, largely revolved around a small number of trainers who operate exceptionally large training establishments, and this can often mean that many of the ‘smaller’ owners and trainers can struggle to get a look in.
With Cheltenham drawing ever closer, this weekend’s action was truly all about the feel-good stories involving those who are often out of the spotlight.
At Kelso, the two feature races – the Morebattle Hurdle and the Premier Chase – were both won by Sandy Thompson and his son in-law, Ryan Mania; a big result for a local yard who continually punch well above their weight.
Those holding ante-post Grand National slips on Le Milos will surely be concerned about how dramatically he weakened in the closing stages of the Premier Chase, although it’s plausible that he was short of peak fitness.
At Doncaster, it was a big-race win for Seamus Mullins and James Best as Moroder scooped the Grimthorpe Chase. The winning jockey wouldn’t look the most stylish in the saddle, but he delivered a ride that contained the perfect balance of aggression and patience to help his willing partner repel the sustained challenge of Undersupervision, who narrowly failed to retain his Grimthorpe crown.
I’ve bought a few mares from the winning trainer, Seamus Mullins, in years gone by and it would be no exaggeration to say he is one of the nicest and most straightforward men I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. This Saturday winner will have meant a lot to him and is thoroughly deserved.
Onto Monday’s racing and I have managed to find three selections at Wetherby which will be shown live on Racing TV. Best of luck.
If you’ve been reading my tips for a while, you’ll probably understand by now that I have no issue forgiving a horse a bad run (sometimes even two) and I long ago learned to develop a thick skin when tipping – it’s a fact you’re going to tip plenty of losers along the way!
However, I have to confess to feeling a small bit of dented pain when a selection pulls up (ouch!), and this was the case two runs ago when Chris Cool made a dramatic jumping error before being pulled up.
I kept the faith on his next outing and was rewarded with an each-way return, though, truthfully that was disappointing given how quickly he weakened having jumped and travelled impressively.
The handicapper has appeared to have responded generously by dropping him 4lb, and his weight is further lightened courtesy of Toby Wynne’s 3lb claim.
This trip should prove optimal, and in a race comprised of largely exposed types, I’m prepared to side with Chris Cool once again.
This Tim Vaughan-trained gelding has become largely underwhelming in recent seasons and, after making an exciting start to his chasing career in 2021 where he recorded back-to-back wins over 2m and 2m3f, I was keen to follow him as I thought those victories came at a trip short of his best.
Amongst a host of laboured efforts since, he has managed one more win, with that coming at Chepstow last season over just a half-furlong shorter than he faces here.
His moderate recent form has seen him drop down to a rating of 115, which is just 2lb higher than his last winning mark, and while he was well beaten last time out, he did show a step back in the right direction as he plugged on into second over 3m2f.
Vaughan has enjoyed a small resurgence in form this season after two poor seasons and can be satisfied with his current strike rate of 24 per cent in the past fortnight.
At a decent price, I fancy Silver In Disguise to post yet another improved effort.
I was surprised to see Percussion installed as the early favourite for this as he’s looked a thorough stayer over three miles, and therefore I can’t see this drop back in trip, on this track, playing to his strengths.
Famous Bridge is yet to recapture his best form and remains on a rating 4lb higher than he has ever won off, while Enzo D’Airy looks a hard horse to catch right plus comes from a yard that is experiencing a quieter period.
That leaves Beakstown who is far from prolific, but he now drops back into a class three contest, and that can be the catalyst for an upturn in fortune.
He last contested a race in this grade at Doncaster over 12 months ago where he found only the exceptionally well-handicapped Erne River too good, with the pair pulling twenty lengths clear of Sam Barton.
This flat track and trip provide optimal conditions for Dan Skelton’s charge and against questionable opposition, I fancy him to land this under the excellent Bridget Andrews.
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