Sloppy ground is everywhere and it’s not making for the best or most reliable of form. Cyrname flopped at Ascot where a 40/1 chance was about to win but for a last fence fall. A war of attrition also came to pass in the Reynoldstown – I’m not knocking Copperhead’s form but was it was more Welsh national than RSA chase. At Haydock, similar feelings exist with everyone clamouring to praise Emitom, Ramses De Teilee, Sir Psycho and Welsh Saint, but these did not feel like Cheltenham trials, even if the ground rides soft.
If a serious Cheltenham contender emerged from the weekend it was Sporting John, who thundered clear at Ascot to make it 3 from 3. He looks a serious tool and it clearly exciting, but it has been mentioned that he is a headstrong sort and though he could be a serious danger to Envoi Allen in the Ballymore, you’d rather back him late on having seen him take the prelims well.
Another novice hurdle I liked was Punchestown’s 3m Grade 3 on Tuesday. Run Wild Fred paid Monkfish a compliment when beating Lord Royal and looks a nice type in his own right. I don’t think this is bad form and Lord Royal could still make an impression at the big festivals this spring – the winner might want proper winter ground to be at his best.
The Eider Chase is not everyone’s cup of tea and I can understand the opinion of people that can’t bear this sort of spectacle, but I love these races and have long had Glittering Love in mind for this very prize. Nicky Richards knows what it takes to win this race and this horse not only has course form but looked sure to be suited by a step up in trip when rallying under pressure over 3 miles here last time. Brian Hughes’ presence on the plate can only help.
The Dovecote at Kempton has had phases of producing fine winners but this year’s entries look average. It seems Benson’s superb effort when falling at Sandown hasn’t been taken at face value, but if he remains in the same form he has to go close in a winnable looking race back among novices. He is clearly a quirky type, but he’s got as much talent as any of his rivals and is a fair price.
Normandy Soldier (R.Mitford-Slade) – Ran okay at Ascot on Sunday, arrived closely matched with the eventual 2nd on form but finished well behind, not looking at home on the softest ground he has ever seen. Looks a similar type to his sibling Samuel Jackson and one to follow when going chasing. He will rate higher than a mark of 121 in time.
Roseisaroseisarose (K.Price) – Has impressed me with both her attitude under pressure and her consistency in bumpers and made an encouraging start to her hurdles career at Doncaster yesterday, moving clear with 7 others turning in before becoming outpaced, then staying on under a 75% drive late on. Connections have tried her quite highly so I doubt she’ll be looking for a mark – there are some poor mares maiden hurdles from March onwards and she can win herself a race.