Last week’s selection in the galliard homes.com Cleeve Hurdle, Paisley Park, proved, in no uncertain fashion, that he is the horse we strongly suspected he might be, when hosing up in the 3m Grade2 heat. Always travelling well in mid division, he needed a little encouragement from the saddle after three out, but made easy progress between the last two, led before the final flight, and showed the runner up, West Approach a clean pair of heels up the Cheltenham Hill. He won by 12L and had the 3rd horse, Black Op, (our EW suggestion) a further 2L back in third. He was superbly ridden by Aidan Coleman, who maintained his 100% record(4/4) on the son of Oscar, and connections will surely be looking forward to Cheltenham’s Sun Racing Stayers Hurdle with some confidence, particularly as both Big Buck and Thistlecrack won “The Cleeve”on their way to Cheltenham glory in recent years. Indeed a strict interpretation of Saturday’s race would give Paisley Park a rating in the low 170’s, which would have been good enough to have won every renewal of The Stayers since Big Bucks last victory in 2012. Unfortunately the bookmaking fraternity aren’t blind to his talent, and have made him their 7/2 Fav for Cheltenham, but with the promise of more to come from the apple of Ms Lavelle’s eye, perhaps even that represents some value.
Unlike The Cleeve Hurdle, The Scilly Isle Chase hasn’t been much of a guide to further success at Cheltenham, but both of the last two winners, Terrefort and Top Notch did finish runners up in The JLT at The Festival. Both were trained by the master of Seven Barrows, Nicky Henderson, who was notching his 5th victory in the race when the former won last year’s renewal, all of which has to make the sole contender from his powerful yard, Ok Corral, of interest.
A 9yo son of Mahler, Ok Corral has only had 9 runs under rules, and has won 5 of them, including both his starts over fences. Very lightly raced, he obviously has had some fitness issues, but coming from the same family as that fantastic chaser,
Tidal Bay, connections have persevered and their patience is beginning to be rewarded as he showed himself to be a chaser of some potential at Warwick 3 weeks ago. Jumping well over the tricky 3 mile course, he showed plenty of pace, and came home a comfortable 6L clear of the 143 rated, Secret Investor. He shouldn’t be inconvenienced by the drop back to 2m4f as he had the speed to win 2 of his 3 NHF races, (2nd to the talented Yorkhill in the third) all over 2 miles, and also won a Novices Hurdle over the same trip. He has won twice going right handed so Sandown’s clockwise track shouldn’t be an issue and I will be surprised if there isn’t more to come from the 9yo.
Also racing in the same colours, (JP McManus, green and gold hoops) is the Philip Hobbs trained, 6yo, Defi Du Seuil and he also looks an animal of some potential. He lost nothing in defeat last time, going down by 1 1/4L to Saturday’s opponent,
Lostintranslation, at Cheltenham on New Years Day. A winner seven times over hurdles, including three times at the top level, this son of the super National Hunt Stallion,
Voix Du Nord, has only run 3 times over fences, (was quite impressive winning his second race at right handed Exeter) and meets his Cheltenham conqueror on 3 lbs better terms so it should be close between them.
Colin Tizzard’s, Lostintranslation’s form, also ties in closely with the warren Greatrex trained mare, La Bague Au Roi. She beat him by 1 1/2L on his Seasonal Debut at Newbury in November, and 3 weeks later, meeting for the second time, the Tizzard horse was going ominously well when hitting the third last so hard he broke the fence.
He nevertheless continued, but finished a well beaten 3rd, 13L behind the mare. We shall never know what might have been but there doesn’t seem to be a lot between them.
Warren Greatrex must be extremely happy with his super mare as she continued her winning run next time, winning The Grade1 Kauto Star Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. This was a super effort, beating the boys, and if she turns up in the same form, with that very useful 7lbs Mares Allowance, she will be difficult to beat. A word of caution though, she seems to preserve her best for the first half of the season.
The Kim Bailey trained 6yo, Vinndication, has won all of his 6 starts, (all going right handed). He achieved a rating of 149 in his 4 Hurdle races (beat the exciting Champ giving him 6lbs, and the 150 rated, Western Ryder, by 3L) and has looked even better in his two outings over fences. He won a minor affair at Carlisle in November, and 33 days ago, jumping soundly, comfortably beat the now 149 rated, Jerrysback, in an Ascot Grade2, (2m5f Soft). The unbeaten son of Vinnie Roe, must have Kim dreaming of the glory days of 1995, when he won the Champion Hurdle with Alderbrook, and The Gold Cup with Master Oats. Such thoughts may be a little fanciful, but there’s no denying that Mr Bailey has a very talented individual in his care.
Selection : Vinndication
EW. : Ok Corral