Monday 22 October 2018

Tip your hat to Double Shuffle for overdue win

The Tom George-trained eight-year-old hasn't won a race since December 2016 despite having six outings since, but he raised a few eyebrows on his penultimate start when a length second to Might Bite in the King George at 50/1, with the likes of Thistlecrack and Bristol De Mai in behind. Stock photo: Getty Images
The Tom George-trained eight-year-old hasn't won a race since December 2016 despite having six outings since, but he raised a few eyebrows on his penultimate start when a length second to Might Bite in the King George at 50/1, with the likes of Thistlecrack and Bristol De Mai in behind. Stock photo: Getty Images

Wayne Bailey

Although mostly worn by men, the Trilby hat, which has a narrower brim than a Fedora hat, was made popular by a woman.

The Trilby also has a distinctive indent in the crown, and the name comes from the stage adaptation of George du Maurier's 1894 novel Trilby, in which the heroine Trilby O'Ferrall wears a hat of that style.

A half-Irish girl in 1850s Paris, Trilby works as an artists' model and the male characters in the book are in love with her.

Although the hat was very popular with men for about 100 years after that play, it has become a unisex clothing item again in recent years and it's still a very common sight at the races, particularly National Hunt racing.

With the jumps season more or less coming to a close this weekend, we will soon pack away the Trilby for a few months as the summer Flat code gets fully into gear next week with the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.

But we've a few Grade Ones left before switching code - although at a price of 2/9, you won't be throwing your Trilby in the air if Altior wins the Grade One Bet365 Celebration Chase (3.0 Sandown).

Superstar

At those odds, it's a race best watched without a bet but it's hard to see any of the five rivals beating Nicky Henderson's superstar, which is unbeaten in eight chases including the Champion Chase at Cheltenham last time, a race he won at the expense of Min.

An outstanding talent, Henderson decided to swerve Aintree in favour of today, and the only other horse priced in single figures here is Henry de Bromhead's Special Tiara, a talented but somewhat inconsistent sort which was pulled up last time in the Champion Chase.

Special Tiara won this in 2015, but it's not overstating it to say last year's winner Altior, rated 175, is one of the best jumps horses we have seen in years.

So we look elsewhere to try make some cash ahead of the Guineas next week, and at odds of 3/1 yesterday evening, Double Shuffle seems a couple of ticks too high in the Bet365 Oaksey Chase (2.25).

The Tom George-trained eight-year-old hasn't won a race since December 2016 despite having six outings since, but he raised a few eyebrows on his penultimate start when a length second to Might Bite in the King George at 50/1, with the likes of Thistlecrack and Bristol De Mai in behind.

Somewhat worryingly, he flopped last time in the Bowl at Aintree, making a number of mistakes, but Tom George has said he simply wasn't there on the day, and he's hopeful he'll bounce back to form.

From a betting point of view, I think his latest run is factored into the price, and 3/1 is a pretty good deal.

Nicky Henderson's Top Notch will most likely go off as favourite around 6/5. Top Notch beat the selection in a Grade Two at Ascot back in November, but he also disappointed when last seen, and could only manage fourth place of seven in the Betfair Ascot Chase, despite going off at 9/4.

Both horses have some questions to answer but both are the type that could bounce back, so at the prices, Double Shuffle is preferred.

Art Mauresque is another one to watch for Paul Nicholls and was a good second to Waiting Patiently in a Listed race in January, but he's struggled any time he's raced at graded level and he may have to stick to some of the better handicap races for now.

Back home at Punchestown, a chance is taken on Gordon Elliott's Farclas in the Grade One AES Champion Four Year Old Hurdle (4.25), priced in the region of 9/4.

It's been an epic battle for the Irish Trainers' Championship against Willie Mullins, who once again produced the goods this week - and this could be a match between the selection and Mullins' Mr Adjudicator, which is vying for favouritism in the early markets.

Farclas reversed the earlier Leopardstown form when beating Mr Adjudicator in the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham last time out, and while both look likely to improve and become very good horses over the next couple of years, Farclas showed a determination and positive attitude at Cheltenham which suggests he'll beat his rival again today.

EACH-WAY

At the time of writing, Relentless Dreamer is friendless in the betting at 40/1 for the Bet365 Gold Cup Handicap Chase at Sandown (3.35), but I reckon that's a little unfair to Rebecca Curtis' gelding which may nab a place if running any way near the form he showed in December, when winning a competitive handicap chase off a mark of 132.

He went up 7lbs for that, and ran reasonably well in the high 130s without setting the world alight, and was mid-division off 137 in another quality handicap chase at Kempton last time.

He's back down a further 1lb today to 136, and although it's fair to say that jockey James Bowen's 5lbs claim almost certainly played a part in his December win, the horse is reasonably consistent and often goes well at a big price.

Rebecca Curtis has had a poor run of form lately, but things took a turn for the better when Joe Farrell won the Scottish Grand National last week at 33/1.

Top-weight Blaklion will prove popular in the betting here having went off at the reasonably short price of 14/1 in the Aintree Grand National.

He fell at the first fence so should still be relatively fresh, and his win in the Becher Chase is a strong piece of form.

TODAY'S SELECTIONS

2.25 Sandown: Double Shuffle

3.35 Sandown: Relentless Dreamer (e/w)

3.50 Punchestown: Apple's Jade

4.05 Sandown: Call Me Lord

4.25 Punchestown: Farclas

Irish Independent

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