Grade 1’s aplenty last weekend with the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle as well as three top level contests at Fairyhouse on Sunday. Newbury also provided some eye-catching displays, particularly in the novice divisions. With 50/1, 16/1, 14/1 and more winners at the weekend, be sure to check out our Racecards section for our full race previews and tips!
Fighting Fifth fallout
In hindsight, the fact the dual Champion Hurdler didn’t go off favourite for the Fighting Fifth is astonishing. But that does show how powerful the hype is surrounding Samcro as he went off the 6/5 market leader. Buveur D’Air had far too much speed and class though, simply breezing by the Irish raider with consummate ease. There is no doubt as to where he’ll be come March, but there are many different opinions about where Samcro should end up. It seems the Champion Hurdle remains the target, although on Saturday’s evidence he has a mountain to climb to get close to Nicky Henderson’s charge. The Stayers’ Hurdle could come into the reckoning for which he’s a 10/1 chance. We have taken a look at the Campaigning of Samcro and what his options are.
Summerville Boy was disappointing in the Fighting Fifth, but given that was his first run of the campaign he is be entitled to do much better than that in the future. A bigger field and stronger pace come March should play into his hands far more.
RSA contenders emerge
Santini has been at the head of the RSA Chase antepost market since the spring and at Newbury on Saturday afternoon, he cemented his position. The huge son of Milan has always had the size to make a chaser and he looked a natural on his debut in the sphere. His jumping was everything you’d want it to be first time out (except for one error down the back). He’s never going to be too flashy, but everything seems to come very easy to him and he appears a more than worthy favourite for the RSA at this stage.
Delta Work was another to state his claims for that contest following a battling win in the Grade 1 Drinmore Novices’ Chase at Fairyhouse. He marginally got the better of Le Richebourg on that occasion over a trip that is likely short of his best. The Pertemps Final winner at last seasons Cheltenham Festival and second in a Grade 1 over three miles at the Punchestown Festival, he should thrive stepped up in trip once again. There isn’t much between himself and Santini on form, so it should make for an intriguing clash.
Could Champ live up to the name?
Having the name ‘Champ’, the son of King’s Theatre has quite the reputation to live up to. But in his short career to date he has continued to progress nicely. He took apart the Ladbrokes Handicap Hurdle field at Newbury on Saturday off a mark of 139, earning himself an impressive RPR of 150 in the process. Considering how keen he was in the early part of the race, it was an exciting performance. Having never finished outside the top two in six starts, the sky is the limit. He has a very interesting pedigree too as his Dam is a half-sister to the legendary three-time Gold Cup winner, Best Mate. Champ has been cut to 10/1 favourite for the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle with nothing else laying down any markers yet. His potential is there for all to see and given his connections, must be respected and would be a very interesting contender in the aforementioned Grade 1.
Apple’s Jade is all class
Beaten at odds of 1/2 and 5/6 on her final two starts last season, Apple’s Jade came into this campaign with a small cloud over her. But in winning her third Hatton’s Grace in a row on Sunday, proved that she’s better than ever and has to be feared wherever she turns up. A twenty length romp secured her place as Mares’ Hurdle favourite with prices ranging between 2/1 and 6/4. However, she has so much talent that the Champion Hurdle (20/1 top price) and Stayers’ Hurdle (14/1 top price) surely have to be considered. The latter would likely suit her more given the stamina and guts she showed to beat Supasundae over three miles at Leopardstown last Christmas. That ultimately looks the more winnable race too, given what Buveur D’Air did on Saturday. It’s likely we’ll see her in the Mares’ Hurdle, where she’d be extremely tough to beat, but no matter what race she competes in at the Festival, she has a big chance.
This Week’s Racing
There are a number of exciting entries throughout the week, but the eye is drawn to Sandown on Saturday. Two Grade 1’s including the Tingle Creek where the beast that is Altior makes his seasonal return. The Henry VIII Novices’ Chase on the same card should give us more clues about what horses to expect to turn up in the Arkle. The Becher and Many Clouds Chases at Aintree along with a number of informative novice races towards the end of the week should make for some fascinating analysis next Monday.