Thursday 18 January 2018

Solwhit's shrinking value good reason to hunt for alternatives

wayne bailey

ARE the bookmakers proving to be a mean old bunch by cutting Solwhit into 4/1 for the Champion Hurdle? He ran very well last Sunday but he wasn't truly tested and who knows how he'll handle the hill at Cheltenham?

Don't get me wrong, he's still my pick for March and regular readers will know I've been singing the praises of Solon's son for some time. Indeed, I've more than one voucher in my wallet with his name on it, but ante-post betting should be about getting a big price and he's just gone too skinny at this stage with a few weeks left to go.

My advice would be to wait until race-day before backing as some good runs from the likes of Medermit have meant that this year's renewal could be more competitive than we first envisaged.

Solwhit is a great horse all the same and he done me a good turn last week in the Irish Champion Hurdle, for which he eventually went off at 5/6.

Wins on Twist Magic at Ascot and Rock A Doodle Doo at Lingfield made it a good weekend for this column; but I must confess that I blew quite a few bob on an unplanned greedy Solwhit/Quel Esprit double which took me down off my perch very quickly indeed.

I should have known better as quite a few of Mullins' short ones have been turned over lately and I'm not 100pc convinced his string is back to normal just yet. Hastily arranged bets like this are the work of the Devil and I was duly punished for indulging!

It was Bertie Forbes, founder of the famous magazine that once said that "the be-all and end-all of life should not be to get rich, but to enrich the world". Nice sentiments indeed; but enriching the world won't pay the ESB bills and I think we can be forgiven now and then for chancing our arm and trying to earn a quick buck. Anyway, the single bets made it a profitable weekend overall; with the loss on the double quickly soothed by a few creamy post-race pints of Guinness, and all was well in the world once again.

I may have tipped three winners last week but it's hardly worth boasting about as prices were 11/8, 2/5 and 5/6 so I think it's only fair that I try to get a bigger priced nag in the bag this week. I've been through the form for the Listed Sky Bet Handicap Chase at Doncaster (3.25) and odds of around 25/1 on the exchanges for Gone To Lunch look massive.

I'll also give credit where it's due, and yesterday, Paddy Power were the only bookmaker standing out by matching the exchange prices.

The Jerry Scott-trained nine-year-old was pulled up last time out in the Welsh National, but I'm willing to forgive that race for a couple of reasons.

Firstly, the three-mile-five-furlong Welsh National was never going to be ideal and it took him a while to find his feet in the big, competitive field. Secondly, the ground was too heavy and he found himself getting weary when trying to keep up with the pace.

He normally likes a bit of cut in the ground but that kind of heavy doesn't suit and he's at his best at on good-to-soft. If we forget about Chepstow, he's a very reliable sort which has now won seven times and was runner-up on six occasions (from 27 races).

His weight burden is not the worst today all considered, and I'm convinced that he's good enough to place at least. Odds of 25/1 would suggest his chances of winning are less than 4pc but if you ask me, that assertion is way off.

Take him each-way to be on the safe side but a bold run is expected. Seven Is My Number is the obvious danger but a single-figure price makes no appeal at these weights .


I often have more than one running for me in these big races and Nenuphar Collonges is worth a few quid each-way now that Alan King's stable is coming back to form; so early odds of 14/1 have been taken.

I was hoping that King would run Karabak in the Cleeve Hurdle (3.40 Cheltenham) but he scoped badly and will now head straight to the World Hurdle at the festival instead. With no Karabak to contend with, Willie Amos' Lie Forrit is the one to side with now and 11/4 will do nicely.

This progressive gelding has stamped his authority on a number of competitive bumpers and handicaps and I reckon he'll have no problem fighting it out with the bigger guns in Grade Two company today.

Today's Selections

2.15 Lingfield -- Pomeroy

3.25 Doncaster -- Gone To Lunch (each-way)

3.25 Doncaster -- Nenuphar Collonges (each-way)

3.40 Cheltenham -- Lie Forrit

Irish Independent

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