Race Time: 1.25pm Meeting: Chepstow Day: Sunday 27th December 2015 Full Race Name: Coral Proud Supporters of British Horse Racing Handicap Hurdle Class Two
We are really being spoiled this weekend with another cracking day’s racing and although heavy going may yet spoil the party, as things stand this looks all set to be a quite fascinating renewal. Starting at the beginning and how can anyone ignore the chances of the Peter Bowen trained Awaywiththegreys -after all, he won this race in 2013 – oh and 2014 as well! Three of his four hurdles wins have been here so he clearly likes the place (or doesn’t enjoy travelling too far from his Pembrokeshire base), and although he has added a 50/1 maiden win at Haydock to the old CV, this looks to be his ideal race. After winning off a mark of 130 in the first place, he managed to come back here last season off of three pounds lower and score at odds of 8/1, and thanks to some below par efforts since is only a pound higher than that in 2015. Both his previous wins were on heavy going as well so no issues there, and he is still only an eight year old so no real reason to believe he is going downhill just yet, while he had a pipe opener here three weeks or so ago with our only sensible concern being the application of blinkers, which he hasn’t needed in the past and we rather hope will be absent again at the weekend.
Poor old Gevrey Chambertin is very much on our list of horses who never really fulfilled their potential (despite eight victories), and had looked destined for the top at one stage only to peak too early. He would have to shoulder top weight of eleven stone twelve today, which may be a bit too much on this going. He has won on heavy ground, and he has scored at this sort of trip, but never the two combined, though he did hack up over two and a half miles or so last time out at Lingfield and is at least at the top of his game and as we have always liked him (and know for a fact that trainer David Pipe feels the same), we wont be quite so quick to write him off as other less informed publications!
Looking lower in the weight and Philip Hobbs has a very interesting contender in the lightly raced Sykes, a six year old son of Mountain High with just the six career starts on the board so far, three of them victorious. This sort of marathon trip seems to bring out the best in him (two of his three defeats were over shorter), including a course and distance win here in early November, though he was well neaten at Newbury last time out even if the winning distance was exaggerated after he clouted the last hurdle. His opponents will suggest his defeat was down to a rise in the weights to his current mark (and they may be correct), but then again we all have off days, and he is certainly open to more improvement than most of these and would arrive here with serious each way chances, though he has yet to encounter going this heavy, and we won’t know for certain if he handles it until after the race is over though on breeding there is every possibility he will.
Course and distance winners continue to dominate our thoughts and Dan Emmett fits the bill for Michael Scudamore, with Tom Scudamore booked to ride. One of the babies of the race at the age of five, he has been put up a ridiculous seven pounds for winning here last time out on similar going when driven out to hold off Moorlands Mist, and although that was only his second run of the season and he could improve again, the handicapper may have him in his grips off his new rating of 125 and all we can see at present is a possibility of a place.
Lastly, and on a very busy day, and we wonder if The Eaglehaslanded can add yet another big race win to the Paul Nicholls list? He is a pound better off with Sykes for three quarters of a length so it should be pretty close between that pairing, and he does offer consistency with three wins a second and fourth from just the six races (he fell at Exeter in his only other race), and with his all powerful connections and room for improvement he looks to have a pretty decent chance and is high on our early list of possibles for the tip come race day.