Race Time: 2.05pm Meeting: Wetherby Day: Saturday 16th January 2015 Full Race Name: 188bet.co.uk Handicap Chase Class Two
Not the easiest race of the day to even try to second guess and we suspect the result will be more dependent than normal on jockey tactics with a hell for leather start dooming some to failure, as they struggle to get the two miles on the predicted heavy going. Upsilon Bleu (9/2) has to carry top weight now and at first glance has no hope, but if you delve a little deeper he actually has a realistic chance. We may be seeing things that aren’t there but he looks as if he may have been aimed at this race for some time, with a run over too far on his reappearance at Newbury followed by a return to hurdles for no apparent reason at Musselburgh when he was beaten less than ten lengths even if he did finish sixth to Aristo Du Plessis.
Although campaigned over further of late, his best form seems to be over this sort of trip and includes a second to Mr Mole at Newbury and a win from French Opera over this course and distance, while he will handle the ground having won on very soft and heavy in France on no less than five occasions, fences and hurdles. Rated 144 today, his last win was here off of a pound less so we aren’t asking that much more of him (basically, a length), and he arrives here with a far better chance that we suspect his odds will imply, and he looks the value call to us today to pick them off from a likely faster than normal early pace.
Gardefort (9/2) is next on our list and with Venetia Williams boasting a 27% strike rate here he has to arrive on the day with a decent enough chance. Lightly raced for a seven year old, he has only had the six runs over fences since arriving from his native France in early 2014, and only the one of them successful when scoring at Ludlow so on paper doesn’t have a lot going for him, but he has clearly had a few minor problems of some sort, or would have been seen more often, though that does mean he could have a lot more to offer with a clear run, and if he has been intensively schooled since a poor run on his comeback when pulled up at Newbury in November after some shoddy jumping, he could yet be involved in the finish.
Micky Hammond is having a pretty good start to his season and sends Yorkist (7/1) here with Brian Hughes booked to ride, and he would have a squeak at his best -but whether he can reproduce that is in some doubt. Put down a couple of pounds after finishing a well beaten fourth to Clan William here last time out, he races off of 134 today and has won off of 139, though that was back in January 2015 and seven races ago, but he is only eight years old so there is no reason why he should be incapable of reproducing his winning form, with the heavy gong just what he needs to be seen at his peak.
On the basis of their Leicester form, Whispering Harry (4/1) cannot reverse a thirty length beating from Sir Valentino today, even on fifteen pounds better terms, but we note that was his first run in over eight months and it may have been his race fitness that was sorely lacking that day. He did show the benefit of that race when runner up to Grey Gold at Newbury next time out, before falling at Haydock at the fifth, far too early to tell us about his chances. He can’t be called well weighted here but does get in off bottom weight at least, but with Henry Oliver without a winner in the past two weeks we can hardly suggest him as the likeliest winner today!
To end with, Tom George looks set to put Sir Valentino (7/2) back in to handicap company after letting him have a shot at the big time when twenty seven lengths last of five to Sprinter Sacre in the Desert Orchid Chase at the end of December. Prior to that run the seven year old had won three in a row at Leicester and then twice at Ludlow, resulting in weight rises that took him from 122 at the start of his run to 143 this afternoon.