Badger Ales Trophy Odds 3m1f handicap chase Wincanton Saturday – I hope you managed to get on Oddsguru’s 16/1 selection, Irish Cavalier in last Saturday’s Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby. He got a great ride from young Irish pilot, Jonathon Moore, getting to the front after three out, and holding on well from the runner up Menorah. He was always in command, and firmly demonstrated his stamina credentials for three miles in this strongly run race. He is the type who thrives on racing, (ran twice at the Punchestown festival in April winning on the second occasion), so given decent ground at Haydock in a fortnights time, is one to bear in mind for the Betfair Chase.
The man with an outstanding record in Saturday’s Badger Ale Trophy with seven victories, is Paul Nicholls, and with two strong contenders it won’t come as a great surprise if he makes it eight. His 6yo, Present Man, heads the market, and following an impressive win over the course (20f Gd-fm) 22 days ago fully deserves to. Ridden by Saturday’s pilot, the talented 5lbs claimer, Jack Sherwood, he won by 4 1/2L and 8L from I’m in Charge and Saturday’s opponent, Gentleman Jon making all. His two previous efforts over the larger obstacles last Spring, (25f and 24f) resulted in him filling the runner up spot on both occasions, suggesting that shorter than three miles might be his optimum trip, a view, strongly contradicted in my opinion, by his very stout pedigree, (by Presenting out of a Strong Gale mare). His superb trainer feels that he has been a slow maturing type and was very quick to nominate the “Badger Ales” as his target after his last win. With only 10st3lbs to carry, (including Sherwood’s 5lbs claim) he’s going to think he’s loose and is going to take some catching.
The second of the Ditcheat contenders, Southfield Theatre has been unlucky in his last two races. He was brought down when making good progress at the Cheltenham Festival, and next time, but for being hampered by a faller at the 19th fence, must have finished even closer than he did, behind The Young Master, when coming 4th in the Grade3 29f end of season chase at Sandown in April. Saturday’s trip will be well within his compass, and 5lbs better off with the Mulholland runner for that 6 1/2L at Sandown, this three times course winner looks a very serious contender.
Oddsguru tipped The Young Master to win the 2014 renewal of the “Badger Ales” which he duly did, only to subsequently have the race taken off him on a technicality, so I’m sure his upwardly mobile trainer would love to lay that particular ghost by seeing his owner, the 3lbs claiming amateur, Mr S Waley-Cohen, steer him into the winners enclosure on Saturday. The handicapper has only raised him 2lbs for that Sandown victory, and with Whaley-Cohen’s 3lbs claim a serious asset, he has to be on the shortlist.
The ground at Wincanton is currently described as good, good/firm in places, and one animal who certainly won’t mind if the rain stays away is Harry Fry’s grand 11yo Shuil Royle. He ran a fine race on Gd-fm at Worcester in August, going down by a Shd off a mark of 139, and came out two months later, to take a Cl2 Aintree handicap on good ground by 5L off a 4lbs higher mark. He is up another 6lbs on Saturday, and it is 16 years since a horse older than 9 has won this, so he does look up against it, but amazingly, this three times course winner, actually seems to be improving at his advanced age, so is not easy to ignore.
Fry also has the useful Thomas Brown entered but on all known form seems to require an easy surface. However the 7yo looks quite well handicapped, racing off a mark 5lbs below his hurdles rating and he can go well after a break, so if turning up would be worth considering.
Having been pulled up in his three previous runs, Anthony Honeyball’s 8yo, Regal Encore, seemed to have put his problems behind him when running a great race at the Punchestown festival last April. In a very competitive 25f handicap he was only beaten 3/4L by the very useful Pleasant Company, and had the third horse 5 1/2L behind. As that was only his eighth race over fences there is probably more to come, so despite an 8lbs higher mark on Saturday is worth a second look.
Emma Lavelle’s Court By Surprise was the beneficiary of The Young Master’s disqualification two years ago, and I’m sure she took little pleasure in getting the race the way she did. However she runs Set List at the weekend, and this 7yo will be well suited by the forecast conditions, and could get Ms Lavelle onto the roll of honour for the second time. He has been campaigned on the good ground all Summer winning at Stratford in July of a mark of 125. He ran well again at Ludlow 31 days ago, beaten less than 2 1/2L off a mark of 129 and will find find the likely conditions much more suitable than many of Saturday’s opponents.
Vyta Du Roc is a fascinating entry for Nicky Henderson and if turning up would be of serious interest. A three times winner at Grade2 level, he can boast that touch of class, and his 10L 5th to Blaklion in the RSA chase at Cheltenham, (only 2L behind More of That in 3rd) reads particularly well. He looks very well treated off a mark of 143, fully 5lbs lower than his hurdles rating, giving him a nice racing weight of 11st5lbs. However he is another who would benefit from an end to this arid Autumn.
Selection: Present Man
E.W. : Shuil Royale