Ante-Post Clues

The big news this week was Envoi Allen, a horse who continues to look like an absolute beast. At Naas on Sunday he pulverised his field, strolling past the likeable Elixir D’ainy in a fast time. While the winner makes little ante-post appeal for the Ballymore at cramped odds you’d be brave to take him on, it’s hard to remember a more impressive sequence since his stablemate Samcro who also landed the Ballymore at a short price. The runner-up did little wrong and he himself could be dangerous when he doesn’t have to take on the winner.

The Tolworth at Sandown has a rich history, but this year’s field looked poor. The winner, Fiddlerontheroof was impressive and the time was good, he has come in for sustained support for the Supreme since the race and while ante-post market leader Abracadabras looks well opposable this isn’t my idea of the winner. Fiddlerontheroof seems to have improved on deep midwinter ground of late and he was beaten for speed by Edwardstone on a sounder surface at Wincanton, it’s hard to believe something wouldn’t do him for a turn of foot at Cheltenham in March unless the ground comes up very testing for him.

Back on New Year’s Day at Cheltenham Champ’s awful jumping has made his position at the top of the RSA market look tenuous at best. He has a serious engine but needs a complete overhaul of his jumping technique – if he were mine he would be rerouted toward the Stayers Hurdle. I was impressed with Roksana’s effort in the Relkeel Hurdle, not positioned suitably in a slow run race but showing good pace to get involved at the death. She would have undoubtedly been bested by Benie Des Dieux in last year’s mares hurdle, but she is a year younger than the Mullins horse and has confirmed her wellbeing this season – she looks a fair 10/1 for the big race in March.

Obscure Eyecatchers

Ashington (J.Quinn) Well backed to win the feature handicap hurdle at Musselburgh on New Year’s day and looked the likely winner for much of the contest before backing out late on to finish 3rd. He tracked an unsustainable gallop there and found himself in front much too soon, a mark of 121 looks highly exploitable and he can find compensation soon – a lucrative spring could await him.

Roycano (M.Easterby) Another to catch the eye from the Musselburgh New Year meeting, I have liked this horse for a long time and he is finally being given some respite from the handicapper. He was well beaten here, but the race wasn’t run to suit his hold up style and he was forced to make an over ambitious move at about halfway to get involved. Understandably unable to sustain that effort he has been dropped another 2lb now and can find compensation in a faster run race.

Top Man (C.Gordon) Has caught the eye on a couple of occasions this season and again so on Sunday, not really placed to challenge in a slowly run race. He boxed on well without having a hard race and has preserved a fair looking handicap mark of 118 as a result. A strong, chasing type he could be a very exciting horse for next season but could easily take down another prize or two over hurdles first, especially up in trip.

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