Overturn can strike again
HORSE RACING can be a great leveller of men and it doesn't let you stay smug for long. Last week, I was feeling a little vainglorious down in the local with the lads when Overturn, which was my main bet of the day, came home at 5/2.
But soon after came the Betfair Chase at Haydock, in which a mate of mine had backed Kauto Star. He asked what I thought of his bet and I told him that Kauto was finished -- and that I wouldn't back him using my mother-in-law's account.
I was bullish about Long Run, but five minutes later my mate was all smiles getting the rounds in while I was sent to the corner of the room to think about what I'd done. But on this occasion, I was happy to be wrong and it was great to see the old battler turn back the years.
I did my dough on it, but as Kauto came over the last, the racing fan in me became stronger than the punter and I actually found myself cheering him on. Win or lose, those type of races remind me why I love this sport.
As mentioned, Overturn took the Coral Hurdle at Ascot last week and I'm happy to stick with the seven-year-old as he takes on Binocular in the Fighting Fifth Hurdle at Newcastle today (2.20).
As pointed out last week, Overturn has got to be one of the most versatile horses in training and we were set for a cracker of a finish before Oscar Whisky fell at the last. Whether Oscar Whisky would have won we'll never know, but Overturn ran a great race regardless, and I was particularly impressed with his jumping this time.
The 2010 Champion Hurdle winner Binocular is a great horse, but I'd have this pair evenly matched, so taking 11/4 over 4/5 is a no-brainer. Indeed, Timeform have them both rated equally and, on official ratings, the handicapper has them only a pound apart.
Binocular's backers have to assume that he's fully tuned up on his first run of the season, as he hasn't been seen since finishing third to Hurricane Fly in the Rabobank Champion Hurdle at Punchestown. He was beaten twice in this race before, so I'm surprised to see the backers get stuck in once again this time around.
On the other hand, Overturn's backers will be hoping that last week's race didn't take too much out of him, although the vibes from the yard are good on that front. While Binocular beat Overturn in the Christmas hurdle at Kempton in January, there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then and I reckon it could be closer than the market suggests.
Celestial Halo is a decent animal and will take them on a good gallop, but it looks like a match between the top two market leaders. At the prices, Overturn is the value option.
I read this week that the inaugural Hennessy Gold Cup in 1957 was won by Mandarin, owned by Peggy Hennessy. Peggy was a member of the family that founded the drink, and it's now the longest commercial sponsorship in British racing.
Trivia aside, though, this is a tricky one to figure out and it looks like Aiteen Thirtythree will go off as favourite.
While that gelding has strong claims, he's a bit short in the betting and preference is for Carruthers, which is generally available at 16/1.
He managed to finish sixth in last year's renewal, which was excellent considering the strong field that included Denman and eventual winner Diamond Harry.
Mark Bradstock's front-running gelding can go the distance, he's a good jumper, and he always gives a genuine effort (3.10 Newbury).
2.20 Newcastle: Overturn
3.10 Newbury: Carruthers (e/w)
8.20 Wolverhampton: Haaf A Sixpence
8.50 Wolverhampton: Circuitous (e/w)