Race Time: 1.45pm Meeting: Wincanton Day: Saturday 9th January 2015 Full Race Name: Bathwick Tyres Yeovil Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase Class Three
With just the one race of history to go on we have no statistics to use to help us in our hunt for the likeliest winner, but we do have the form book to go on plus trainer form and so on. As a novice handicap chase we need to carefully balance form, experience and promise, so we will start with Kassis who is one of the few last time out winners engaged in this contest. Trained in Lambourn by Jamie Snowden, the son of Derby winner Kalanisi was admirably consistent toward the end of his hurdling career with two thirds and a win in Class Four handicaps at Plumpton, Chepstow, and Ffos Las, but he looked destined for even better on his fencing bow at Towcester when a one paced second over the minimum trip. Sensibly stepped up by half a mile or so at Bangor next time out, he won by three quarters of a length as he pulled out more when challenged, and as he has only been put up a solitary pound for that win and at the age of seven has age on his side, we are confident he won’t go down without one heck of a fight this afternoon.
Sadly, decent hurdling form is no guarantee of success over the larger obstacles, but Nicky Henderson will be hoping that Aigle De La See can follow up wins at Sandown and Ffos Las over hurdles with a successful chasing career. Sent off the 11/4 jolly for his first chase at Aintree he was a bitter disappointment when only fourth of six to Bally Beaufort but ran as if he was badly in need of the run and we may be best off using that as an “excuse”. Next time out at Newbury he was stepped up in trip to two and three quarter miles and was gong pretty well until brought down at the eleventh, though it was too early to suggest he would have won. He was a good deal better than Kassis over hurdles and is relatively lightly raced for a seven year old but does have to give weight away and it could be pretty close between the pair.
As big fans of Oliver Sherwood and his openness with the media (for which we are always grateful), we had to have a second look at Romulus Du Donjon, despite a couple of poor efforts in his last two races. Prior to those lacklustre efforts, the grey gelding had finished in the first four home in eleven consecutive races, starting in his native France, and including one win at Market Rasen, and as he has placed in novice hurdles off of 119 he could be well in here off a mark of just 117. Presumably connections feel he is ready for fences at the tender age of five, possibly with the handicap hurdle route beyond him, and if that is the case the maybe we can expect more over the larger obstacles and he could yet be a major player today.
As we write the Paul Nicholls yard aren’t firing on all cylinders to put it politely, but if that changes overnight (and these things happen), then The Brock Again comes in to the equation. Yet another French import, he has only had the two races since moving to the UK and was third over hurdles on both occasions, once in a Sandown handicap and again in a Listed Novice Hurdle at Haydock, but has now been off the track for fourteen months, suggesting some minor issues. Put down four pounds for his chasing debut we suspect that in the long term he will prove to be a good deal better than that, and if he is race fit and if the stable are firing (too many “if”s to recommend a bet), then he is certainly a very interesting each way option.
Lastly, for those looking for an each way alternative, we suggest that the David Pipe trained Willem could run a big race even if he looks like a no hoper at first glance. After being purchased by his new connections for 60,000 Euros he has had eleven races in this Country without one solitary success but has placed a coupe of times and has kept his perhaps too high rating of 125 or thereabouts throughout with the handicapper refusing to relent despite his lack of prize money. That may well be the influence to change codes and it could well be that a new career will spark the son of Turtle Bowl in to life, and he may yet pay out to those who support him each way today.