Three runners at Wolverhampton this evening, and I may go up. King’s Head goes in the 8:50 and both Shepherd’s Warning and Effingham go in the 9:20.
King’s Head comes here mainly because we haven’t had the right ground to run him over the jumps. He doesn’t like it soft and it’s tough finding the right opportunities for him over the winter. He’s extremely well in himself and is capable of winning off this mark – he’ll be held up off the pace in a race where there should be plenty of pace on.
I’ve leased Effingham to the Timeform Betfair race club (www.timeformbetfairracingclub.com), and he runs in their colours for the first time. He’s had a bit of time to come to terms with his surgery and he ran a fair race last time. Shepherd’s has had a few niggles keeping her off the course, but she’s made great physical progress. Both are going well at home and I’d have trouble splitting them. A concern is that Nicky hasn’t had a winner since August.
I’ve spoken to Gary and Nicky this morning – it’s all systems go and I think all three horses will run well. I’ll back them but probably just for small amounts, as they all have a bit to prove. For proper betting interest I’ll be looking at the Ascot card.
There’s plenty of talent on show at Ascot today. In the first the massive Mad Max comes out, and he’s a true sight to behold. The galloping course and longer trip should suit and he’ll probably win, but the price is too short for me. Massini’s Maguire finally returns in the second, and with hindsight his Cheltenham win in ’07 makes impressive reading. I wish him well, but again for me the price is too short. For money I’ll look to the two mile hurdles.
The 2:05 could turn out to be a seriously strong race, and the top six on the card will all have their followers. The first five of these all have hurdle wins under their belts and all carry 5lb penalties. All five are unbeaten over hurdles (all one from one). The two flat recruits were both placed at group level – the remainder all won bumpers. Five top class prospects.
Eddie Harty has had very few runners in the UK – two at Cheltenham and one at Aintree with one winner (Captain Cee Bee) . He runs Baron De’L, a maiden over hurdles receiving weight from the five winners. I’ve got more questions than answers. Why is he in this race (I’m guessing he’s over here looking for better ground)? Why wait so long to go hurdling (did he need to develop?) Whatever the case I feel drawn to him. He’s durable (32 flat runs, 5 wins), he’s improved steadily and finished his flat career on a high, he’s a front runner with enough speed for hurdles. Apparently he jumps “brilliantly”. He showed up well in the mud at Punchestown – he handles testing ground well but Harty once said that he tires on it over longer flat trips. He may be at his best today and is my pick – Secret Tune second.
In the last I like Chantaco, for vaguely similar reasons. He was durable on the flat (5 wins from 23) and had a touch of class. He’s proven he can carry weight. Henderson had him ready to win first time last season – his jumps season started late (maybe he was gelded) and he should be better prepared this time around. The stable is in good form and he might be ready to step up a level.