Upping The Ante – Episode 7

Black Op at Aintree

The honeymoon is over and it’s back to the hard work for David Jennings who has returned from his Christmas hiatus to keep us up to date with all things Cheltenham, a job that is as important as ever with little more than eight weeks to go until the festival starts. There were the usual reflections on the previous week’s racing, with racecourses as diverse as Punchestown, Clonmel, Wetherby, and Kempton discussed, with the pair revealing the performances that caught their eye, and will matter come March-time.

It is a relatively quiet time of year for National Hunt racing, what with the proximity of the spring festivals combined with the recent introduction of the Dublin Racing Festival, however we can still look forward to a Grade One this weekend, with Lynch providing a 1-2-3-4 for Saturday’s Clarence House in which we will see once more the best horse in training, Altior. We will also be treated to David Jennings favourite horse, Brain Power, who is due to appear at Haydock at the weekend, as well as the competitive Peter Marsh Handicap on the same card.

Attention then turned, as usual, to March and this week’s focus was directed at the novice hurdling sphere, with Lynch and Jennings struggling to find too many surefire selections. Nevertheless, the pair still provide some welcome insight, with discussions on who’s who, and where the protagonists will end up. Half of the puzzle is working out who won’t win come festival time, and Lynch easily reveals who will not be achieving festival glory, some because of injury and others because of a lack of class. He chooses Champ over Battleoverdoyen, both of whom are Grade One winners in their own right, as the most likely winner of the Ballymore, although he reveals that he wouldn’t back Nicky Henderson’s charge just yet, and reveals a Paul Nicholls’ trained four-year-old who looks to play a big part in the Triumph.

As we are accustomed to, there is the usual market insight from sponsors redzone.bet, including the prices at which they expect the current market leaders of the Champion Hurdle and Chase, Stayers’ Hurdle and Gold Cup to go off, as well as providing this week’s enhancement –

  • Black Op – Stayers’ Hurdle from 12/1 out to 16/1 – for Jennings, the decision to return him to hurdling, aiming him at a rather weak division, is a shrewd move by Tom George. The trip certainly holds no fears judged on his wide-margin point win and his performances over two-and-a-half miles, when always shaping as if he wished to be aimed at further. If the selection takes part in the upcoming Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham, and wins nicely as Jennings expect him to do so, we can expect him to be slashed into favouritism.
  • Ok Corral – National Hunt Chase – there is no enhancement from the sponsors for this selection, however that only serves to reinforce his credentials. Lynch provides a shorter-than-usual tip, at odds of just 3/1, although there are very many reasons to suggest this price remains decent value. He is nine-years-old, however he’s had just nine starts under rules and only finished out of the first two on one occasion. He’s had just two starts over fences, winning both in decent style, including when scoring authoritatively at Warwick this weekend. He looks sure to keep improving, and has been earmarked for the race by Nicky Henderson, with Derek O’Connor’s presence in the saddle this week being a great sign that he’ll be getting a cracking ride in the four-miler.
Please Gamble Responsibly