As the main event last week was Champions Day, the focus was predominantly at Ascot. But there was still some noticeable racing in the National Hunt sphere which is well worth taking a note of. There was a Grade 3 Chase over at Punchestown on Wednesday which provided a good winner who could be worth following for the remainder of the season. In the UK there was the Welsh Champion Hurdle at Ffos Las and also horses to take away from Market Rasen and Kempton. In addition to all that, it was a successful week here at myracing with a 12/1 accumulator winner on our Greyhound tips and an 11/1 winner for the horse Accumulator tips!
Could Sub Lieutenant be heading to the Gold Cup?
The Irish Daily Star Chase at Punchestown has been a race to keep an eye on, with War Of Attrition and Don Cossack emerging victorious before going on to Gold Cup glory in March. Sub Lieutenant ran out a ready winner of the race on Wednesday, beating three-time Grade 1 winner Outlander in the process. The fact Road To Respect and Snow Falcon were withdrawn puts a little bit of doubt into the mind regarding the strength of the form, but Sub Lieutenant jumped well and galloped strongly to the line. That was his first win at over three miles and there could be more to come from him at the distance.
He’s shown his best form on a sound surface, which he may well get at Cheltenham in March and given his close second behind Un De Sceaux in the Ryanair Chase in 2016, clearly likes the track. He’d need to improve to be a Gold Cup contender, but it’ll be interesting to see how he gets on next time.
Silver Streaks away in Welsh Champion Hurdle
Silver Streak has been a revelation since joining Evan Williams, winning 5 of his 9 starts for the yard. He’s certainly improving, gaining a Grade 3 victory in May before powering clear of a smart field after the final flight at Ffos Las on Saturday. He’s proving a very valuable handicapper but deserves his chance in a higher grade now, whether he’s up to it only time will tell. A Champion Hurdle is perhaps a bit of a stretch at this stage, but you never know! If things don’t go to plan for that race, you’d have to imagine the County Hurdle could be ideal for him.
Nicholls trio triumph
Dynamite Dollars made a stylish debut over fences at Market Rasen on Saturday. Jumping boldly, he readily skipped clear of Highway One O One, who is a decent horse in his own right, giving the form a strong look to it. Dynamite Dollars is certainly a novice chaser that Paul Nicholls can be excited about heading towards the big races.
Nicholls has done notably well with French recruits in the past and he may well have another good one on his hands with Quel Destin. The three year old lost out on his stable debut at Chepstow but coming out just a week later at Kempton, he did what was expected of him and asserted his class. He powered clear after the second last hurdle in no time at all and was simply the best horse in the race by a long way. A step up in class beckons and if handling it, should be a live Triumph Hurdle candidate.
The final Paul Nicholls horse to touch upon is Copain De Classe. He showed bundles of promise over hurdles in beating Shantou Rock and Azzuri, but failed to fire when switched to the larger obstacles last season. However, a wind operation over the winter may well be the making of him. He won at Kempton on Sunday, pulling a long way clear with Casablanca Mix (who is a more than solid yardstick) before that one pecked at the last and handed the race to Copain De Classe. Nevertheless, it was a much more assured performance and it’d be no surprise to see him kick on into a decent handicapper.
Ground the key to Verdana Blue
Nicky Henderson has kept no secret of the regard in which he holds Verdana Blue and that was evident last season when she would have run in the Champion Hurdle, had the ground not have been heavy. She cantered all over her rivals in a Listed contest at Kempton on Sunday, running out a decisive seven length winner. Top of the ground seems to be the key to her and when she gets it, is a high class mare. If the ground has ‘good’ in the description at Cheltenham come March, she may well be in the Champion Hurdle again. But if she were to run in the Mares Hurdle, she would be a huge player.
This Week’s Racing
Racing returns to a couple of Britain’s most elite courses with Cheltenham and Aintree both hosting fixtures this week. There are plenty of exciting entries at both tracks as the big guns are starting to come back out and there will be plenty of clues of look back on from those two meetings. We’ll have Cheltenham tips and Aintree tips on site the evening before the races!