Yes, it’s the first of many that will come your way as we analyse Saturday’s racing with the odd midweek gem thrown in to offer up a long-term ante-post bets weekly for the greatest show on turf.
The idea behind this column is to build a portfolio of ante-post bets together adding a selection each week. We will keep track of all the recommended bets which will show at the bottom of this column.
Don’t worry, this is not a punt and run job either. I will be here come March to round out the column, win or lose, but let’s hope it’s the former!
You won’t see a single figure priced horse in this column before December. I can promise you that. I like to calculate the “will they get there” factor at this time of the year. Many people will undoubtedly disagree on potential targets for horses recommended, but only time will reveal the answers – so let’s get this Sunday Club started.
Sceau spectacular but it’s a no for now
Sceau Royal was outstanding, scoring in the Grade 2 Elite Hurdle by five and a half widening lengths from Teqany to repeat the forecast seen in last year’s contest. The race was run at an end to end gallop, recording a 15.12 length faster time than Knappers Hill’s win in the earlier Novice Hurdle contest.
The Alan King nine-year-old wastes very little time in the air over hurdles, and he now must be considered one of the best 2m hurdlers in Britain, but even that shouldn’t be good enough.
It begs the question, why go back over fences?
The answer probably lies across the Irish Sea, with last year’s dominance at the Cheltenham Festival still fresh in mind, and it’s likely another mixed campaign is on the cards for the excellent double green runner. He is as big as 33/1 for the Champion Chase and not even on the betting list for the Champion Hurdle.
With the 2m hurdle division somewhat dominated by the Irish and the 2m chase division having emerging talents such as Shishkin, Energumene and perhaps Envoi Allen, opportunities will again be few and far between come March.
Short term – One to watch
Knappers Hill built on his debut promise at Chepstow, and although the margin of victory was underwhelming given his 1/10 odds, that race is likely to work out well. He is now as short as 20/1 for the Ballymore Novice Hurdle and the same price for the Supreme Novice Hurdle – but that’s skinny given there are lots to come out of the woodwork yet.
The time figure was good, and he was very comfortable at the finish, but it was his stablemate and runner-up Gala De Corton who could be one for the short term. He made all the running at a relentless early gallop before getting out-paced inside the home straight only to stay on strongly at the finish, and a step up in trip looks on the cards – stick in the tracker please!
Eric drew first blood but is age a concern?
On Saturday, Eric Bloodaxe scored by eight lengths at Naas to make a winning start to life over hurdles, but it was more axe-grinding than axe-swinging.
There was plenty to like about the performance from a visual standpoint, but it was clear to anyone with a set of eyes that his best work came inside the final furlong.
The 2m3f trip will likely be left well behind in due course, and if it’s not, it probably should be. Compared to the 2m4f Handicap Hurdle, he was 8.40 lengths slower, and he ran a furlong less, but he was faster from three-out to the finish by 14.20 lengths. He was always prominent and was out-paced for a split second between the third and second last, but his finishing kick caught the eye.
He has the back form to be a real force in the Novice division, and it’s likely the Ballymore would be a more suitable target for which he is a 25/1 shot on the Sportsbook.
The big concern is his age bracket. He will be seven come to the turn of the year, and only French Holly in the entire 50 year running of the Ballymore Novice Hurdle contest has been successful.
Early talk of the Champion Hurdle for Teahupoo is nonsense
A few times in previous columns, I’ve mentioned that “if a horse wins by a wide margin, the first thing to do is to ask why”, and that’s the case with Fishery Lane Hurdle winner Teahupoo who scored by 12 lengths at Naas on Saturday.
He took the scalps of last seasons Triumph Hurdle winner Quilixios and Boodles Handicap winner Jeff Kidder. Still, the Juvenile form from last season already has an air of unreliability to it, and on all known figures, that was a below-par performance from the runner-up Quilixios.
Running the race side-by-side with the earlier Maiden on the card shows they went a crawl early on, likely because no one wanted to make the running, which forced Rachel Blackmore and Quilixios to take it up at the third flight.
The race turned into a sprint which wouldn’t have benefitted the poorly positioned Jeff Kidder at the rear of the field, and Autumn Flight, who had been brushed aside last season by those dominant in the Juvenile division, including the winner, was upsides making a challenge when falling two-out.
Teahupoo was surprisingly cut into as short as 16/1 for the Champion Hurdle on the back of this performance.
The comparative Maiden won by Uhtred is probably not worth getting excited about either. Quilixios would have won that on the time figures even with this below-par performance.
Incredible stamina may just be Mr’s forte
The most impressive performance on the day came from Henry De Bromhead’s five-year-old Mr Incredible in the 2m3f Mongey Communications Beginners Chase at Naas.
Talk about overcoming adversity. He was almost brought down at the third flight as Farceur Du Large’s fall at the head of affairs brought carnage to those in behind. Mr incredible was just that as he was forced to dodge three that came down at that fence and leapt over a stationary horse to leave him at least ten lengths adrift of the leaders. That included the eventual second, third and fourth.
There were a few hairy moments for him throughout the contest on his chase debut, but he was the only horse to come from the rear of the field in a race dominated by those setting the fractions.
Lots to like about the time comparison
He had 8.76 lengths to make up on the leader approaching the second last fence and 6.64 lengths to make up at the final fence, and considering Naas has a short run-in, this was a remarkable performance to win going away by 2 1/4 lengths.
In comparison to Captain Guinness, who won the 2m Polar Square Chase, Mr Incredible was just 1.57 seconds (6.28 lengths) slower from three-out to the finish line.
From five-out to the finish line, he was only 10.36 lengths slower, and we must remember this horse had run over three furlongs further and carried 11 pounds more on his back.
This was his chase debut, and he could easily be a 150 horse in due course, especially with a solid piece of back form over hurdles behind 2021 Ballymore Novice Hurdle runner-up Gaillard Du Mesnil.
Discorama and Mossbeck, both five-year-olds, won this race before going on to run in the National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham the same season, and stamina certainly looks to be Mr Incredible’s forte.
I could quite easily be low-balling him here with talk of the National Hunt Chase given he has only had three runs.
Henry De Bromhead is not known for having runners in the race, but his team is much larger these days and stacked full of quality. He was quoted after the race saying, ” You would imagine that he will be a real stayer, we will keep finding out.”
He is the first to be added into our season long list and while 16/1 is a little tight, the potential of this horse means I want him in our portfolio.