What a super animal Bristol De Mai is! Jumping for fun, last week’s EW selection, maintained his 100% record at the Merseyside track when winning The Betfair Chase by 4L from the Gold Cup victor, Native River. From turning into the straight, the outcome was never in doubt, and if the Twiston-Davies yard can keep the galloping grey sound, (difficult to train because of niggling problems) his chances of landing that £1million bonus (needs to win The King George at Kempton and Cheltenham’s Gold Cup) for his lucky owners, messr’s Munir And Souede, is not such a remote possibility. With a roll of honour that boasts nine individual Gold Cup winners, Newbury’s Highlight on Saturday, might just unveil another serious contender for Cheltenham honours, and Irish Maestro, Willie Mullins, who amazingly has yet to land “The Big One” at Prestbury Park, will be hoping that it is one of his upwardly mobile, 6yo contenders, Kemboy or Al Boum Photo who pass the winning post in front.
Kemboy, a winner of 4 of his 7 starts over fences, was going well enough when blundering away his chance at the 9th in The Grade1, JLT at Cheltenham in March, and 18 days later didn’t get past the 1st, when brought down in The Irish Grand National. However his next two runs saw a serious improvement in his fortunes, winning a Limerick Grade3 by 8L from the useful Tombstone, and 15 days later winning a valuable handicap at The Punchestown Festival. Racing off a mark of 147 he won very comfortably indeed. Following a 202 days break, he returned to action 16 days ago to beat the 154 rated Alpha Des Obeaux over an inadequate 2 1/2miles, and this son of the hugely successful, but alas deceased, National Hunt stallion, Voix Du Nord, (sire of Vaniteux, Vroum Vroum Mag, Taquin Du Seuil, and Defi Du Seuil to name but a few) is beginning to emerge as a pretty serious tool, and if he does prevail at the weekend, the 33/1 now available for The Gold Cup will be but a distant memory.
Willie’s second contender, Al Boum Photo, had Punchestown’s Grade1 Growise Champion Chase at his mercy, when pilot Townsend, inexplicably decided to alter course at the final fence,and crashed out through the wings. Al Boum Photo had had some jumping issues in 2 of his previous 4 chases, (fell twice) but looked the finished article until pilot error robbed him of a well deserved victory in that Punchestown heat, so riding arrangements for Saturday will be interesting. However he is undoubtedly a talented individual and as one who goes well after a break, and relishes soft ground, is hard to ignore.
The Anthony Honeyball trained mare, Ms Parfois has improved substantially since being stepped up in trip, and she ran the race of her life when just edged out by Saturday’s opponent, Rathvinden,(another contender from Willie Mullins’ Closutton Yard) in the 4miles, National Hunt Chase, at The Cheltenham Festival. She might have won but for hitting the 2nd last, and the pair finished 21L clear of the 3rd horse home, Sizing Tennessee, strong form indeed! and she showed what a tough mare she is when going on to finish 2nd in an Aintree Grade1 a month later. The 7yo meets Rathvinden on a pound better terms and having only raced 7 times over fences further improvement can be anticipated. She has a nice racing weight of 10-12 and my slight concern would be her lack of a recent outing and the yard’s poor form.
Colin Tizzard’s Elegant Escape, and Tom Lacey’s Thomas Patrick fought out a ding dong battle up the Sandown hill 20 days ago, with the Tizzard horse prevailing by 1/2L.
They were both having their first run of the campaign, so both can be expected to come on for the outing, but on 5lbs better terms one has to fancy the course and distance winning Thomas Patrick to come out on top.
It has to be a great compliment to Tom Lacey’s training skills, that he has produced an animal, whose only success from 6 attempts in the PTP field, came when given a walkover, is now a leading fancy for the second most valuable Handicap Chase in the entire calendar. No immediate improvement in the ex pointer was obvious on joining the Lacey yard, as he was well beaten at odds of 40/1 and 200/1 in his first two races under rules, but hints of the hidden potential were revealed next time, when finishing second at 100/1 in a Class 3 Novice Hurdle. He has now won 3 of his 5 starts over fences, which included victory in the 16 runner Grade3 Mildmay Handicap at Aintree in April, demonstrating that Saturday’s large field should hold no fears. He has a nice racing weight of 11-0, handles heavy ground, and it would be a great feather in Tom’s hat if the 6yo could win on Saturday.
Alan King won with Smad Place three years ago, and he has another likely looking type in the 6yo Dingo Dollar. He won twice over hurdles, but was always going to make a chaser, and has won 2 of his 5 starts over fences. He put up an excellent effort in Ayr’s Novices Championship Handicap last April, going down by only 1L, off a mark of 143, conceding 12lbs to the now rated143 winner Crosshue Boy, which makes Dingo Dollar, on a mark of 148, look very fairly treated on Saturday. He had a nice pipe opener 3 weeks ago, has won over the course, and with an entry in The Welsh Grand National, one presumes connections have no stamina doubts for a race that is invariably run with the choke out.
Selection : Thomas Patrick
EW. : Kemboy