Sunday 4 December 2016

'Poets' to keep Doncaster rivals at bay

Take a punt on 33/1 outsider to upset Yucatan and Irish raiders

Johnny Ward

Published 22/10/2016 | 02:30

Marracudja, with Nick Scholfield up, on the way to winning the Novices Chase at Cheltenham. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire
Marracudja, with Nick Scholfield up, on the way to winning the Novices Chase at Cheltenham. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

And so there was Yucatan. Money talks, as they say, and the plunge on the son of Six Perfections in the antepost market this week for the Racing Post Trophy at Doncaster today, predictably, was not misplaced. And, as expected, original antepost favourite Capri stays nestled in Ballydoyle.

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These antepost markets render bookmakers lambs to the slaughter in theory but much of their purpose relates to PR over anything else. Yucatan's price was slashed across the board - but it would not have taken fortunes of cash.

Yucatan had been pleasing Aidan O'Brien at home. His progression is hardly a shock, considering his page. By Galileo - who else? - his dam, Six Perfections, was a top-class filly for Pascal Bary. In 14 starts, she was first or second a dozen times and won three Group Ones.

He can probably take the beating in this final Group One of the campaign but whether or not he is backable at even-money is another thing. That Beresford second to Capri confirmed that he is improving, though the bare form is not easy to assess, with three Ballydoyle runners finishing in a pack together.

It has been a relatively staid year for the Charlie Appleby barn in Newmarket. However, his horses are in splendid form just now and Bay Of Poets is put forward at a fancy price.

He looked quite promising when winning on the all-weather in September and, after travelling easily upped in Grade at Newmarket, he cut out as if something were amiss. Appleby reports him to have worked really sharply this week and he is a speculative pick at the prices.

Whether Yucatan is a healthy distance clear of his stablemates in the pecking numbers at Ballydoyle is also up for rumination. The Anvil, yet to win, may out-run his odds for Seamus Heffernan.

There is merely one runner on the card today from Ireland outside of the feature: Tithonus in the sprint handicap. Crack apprentice Killian Leonard takes 5lb off the Denis Hogan-trained steed, which has the bizarre distinction of having both won over five furlongs and finished placed in two maiden hurdles.

This is a hardy campaigner and, while he faces a difficult task, he has a chance.

The Listed sprint has a most open look. The Mark Johnston-trained Comedy School is getting better and may prove the answer.

The weakness of the pound hardly adds to the lure of sending horses to Britain at the moment. Interestingly, the Irish challenge at Cheltenham is pretty limited, though there are a handful of notable runners.

Gordon Elliott tackles the Pertemps Qualifier with both top-weight Taglietelle and Eshtiaal, the mount of Tom Scudamore. The decision to ease Taglietelle's burden, Cian Collins tasked with taking 7lb off, is sensible.

This horse came off the Flat and like many that did, he does not jump fences with much alacrity. However, back over hurdles at a track he knows intimately, he has a chance.

The Randox Health Handicap Chase sees Rachael Blackmore have her second Cheltenham ride, aboard Devils Bride. However, a chance is taken on Rock The World, and there would be some emotional scenes if the eight-year-old were to prevail for the old Moscow Flyer team of Jessica Harrington and Barry Geraghty.

Savello could be interesting too, having scored at the track in the 2014 Grand Annual when with Tony Martin.

The opening handicap chase has a nice pot and features the teenager Any Currency. Even though Seefood has a fair bit to prove at this stage, he is relatively well-treated if he can recapture the best of his form in Ireland. A good gallop looks assured in this.

There are a couple of Group Three events at Newbury. The Horris Hill can go to Executive Force, which did very little wrong when a promising second in what looked a classy Listed event at Dundalk earlier this month.

The St Simon is quite open and Lady Of Camelot is one of many in with a chance. This Montjeu filly can appreciate the extra quarter-mile after a pleasing second at Newmarket last time when beaten by Laganore.

Watching Brief...

It was disappointing for Thurles patrons that Prince Of Scars was scratched, but it was encouraging for the months ahead that he was declared to face Alpha Des Obeaux on Thursday.

Gigginstown suddenly has jumpers scattered about the country and November is closing in. Horses are itching to run. And Gigginstown was happy to pitch two of its best novices against each other.

Today, we have an intriguing situation where the useful Attribution takes on his stablemate Identity Thief in the two-mile maiden chase, presumably dictated more by owner than trainer: Henry De Bromhead cares for both horses. And in the subsequent beginners' event, Gigginstown runs three: Catalaunian Fields, Crest, and the hugely promising DIsko.

Given the operation's squeaky clean campaigning of its horses - they are always out to give their best, be it in maidens or handicaps - this situation is good for the game.

It favours punters, who can weigh up the value on offer about a second-string; the layers, too will welcome the prospect of occasional upsets. And we, as punters, are treated to very good horses taking each other on.

20: Successive races won by the incomparable Moscow Flyer at the peak of his career (in which he completed). He won 13 Grade Ones and will go down without question as one of the most popular jumpers of all time.  RIP to a legend.

Irish Independent

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