Sprinter To Spare Nicholls’ Blushes?
A fantastic week of racing reaches its climax, this afternoon, with 6 UK meetings and plenty of Group encounters. There’s action at Haydock, Leicester, Ripon, Doncaster and Wolverhampton, although Sandown is where the big money will be won and the G2 Oaksey Chase is at 2.55.
With over £28,000 going to winning connections, Willie Mullins will hope that Valseur Lido has too much for his rivals. He was well beaten by Vautour in the Ryanair Chase, but finished ahead of both Road To Riches and Al Ferof. Wonderful Charm is Nicholls’ best hope, although even he looks well held.
The G1 Celebration Chase (3.35) is the feature and Mullins appears to have Nicholls’ number in this one, as well. Un De Sceaux’s reputation took a major hit, at Cheltenham, but neither Dodging Bullets, Solar Impulse or Ulck Du Lin should get close to him today.
The elephant in the room is obviously Nicky Henderson’s Sprinter Sacre, who Nicholls may well be already cheering home when he reaches the 2f marker. In a way, this race is a microcosm of the 2015-2016 campaign and duel. It’s quality versus quantity, but the former usually comes off best when Group 1 races are being held. We’ll be much closer to knowing which trainer will finish as champion, when this mouth-watering encounter has come to an end.
Don’t Rule Out Dynaste!
While both trainers have entries in the G3 Gold Cup Chase, others look more interesting. The Young Master stayed on well to finish 3rd in the Cheltenham Handicap Chase, finding only Un Temps Pour Tout and Holywell too strong. Neil Mulholland’s inmate is without a win since 2014, but has only featured in black-type races and has performed well.
If you are looking for value though, surely Dynaste represents it for at least an each-way flutter? This is a proven Grade 1 horse and you can back him at a huge price, today. French-bred horses have excelled in the Gold Cup Chase, recently. You’ll kick yourself, if David Pipe’s charge finishes in the money and you didn’t have a little wager!
In the Listed Select Hurdle we’ll probably see Paul Nicholls’ trio of Ptit Zig, San Benedeto and Silsol being comprehensively outclassed by Willie Mullins’ sole entry, Vroum Vroum Mag. This is already starting to get old, so let’s move on…
Barnes Hoping To Strike It Rich
Leicester’s big race is the Listed King Richard III Stakes. There was a monarch who certainly divided opinion and cases can be made for several of today’s runners. Johnny Barnes is a Deauville G3 winner and also came 2nd in the G1 Criterium International Stakes at Saint-Cloud, in 2014. However, just as they did with the mercurial former Liverpool winger, doubts about his England form cloud the air. Markaz, Here Comes When and Home Of The Brave are all preferred.
Life’s A Beach, For O’Brien
Aidan O’Brien will have high hopes, when the Listed Martin Molony Stakes comes under starters orders at Limerick. Bondi Beach found very little, when 16th of 24 in the G1 Melbourne Cup. The Galileo-sired horse still looks far too good for today’s rivals though and only Jim Bolger’s Altesse may get close to the 4-year-old.
Mar To Star, In The Guineas?
Both the Listed Chestnut Stakes and the G3 Winter Guineas are on today’s card at Kenilworth (South Africa). Marinaresco performed well when finishing 3rd in the Derby (January) and there was some surprise when he was gelded just 4 days later. He’ll be fresh today though and the Winter Guineas looks within his reach.
Take A Global View
Those of you who follow horse racing around the world will find plenty to keep you occupied, today. There’s racing in France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Czech Republic and numerous countries outside Europe. You can bet on all these races at RaceBets, the place for every race!