Wayne Bailey: ''Reserve' should have plenty in the Tank'
We normally bookend the Flat season this week with the November Handicap at Doncaster, but torrential rain in the South Yorkshire area brought a lot of flooding on Friday, and the track was left waterlogged. It's a pity really, as it's a race I really like getting stuck into.
So a week or so earlier than usual, attention turns back to the jumping game and there's a reasonable amount of good racing on offer with Graded contests in Ireland at Naas, and in England at Wincanton.
Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.
At the latter course, I reckon you'll be lucky to get even money about Reserve Tank in the John Romans Park Homes 'Rising Stars' Novices' Chase (2.25) for Colin Tizzard under Robbie Power.
Of course, not all hurdlers transfer their good form to fences, but his record over the smaller obstacles is top-notch with Grade One wins at Punchestown and Aintree.
Having gone off at 4/5, it was disappointing to see him finish second to Jarveys Plate in listed novice at Chepstow on his chasing debut in October, having traded at 1/10 in-running, and some commentators have questioned whether he's going to be as good as we thought - but I think he has excuses.
Firstly, he was a little bit keen throughout and Power may have to keep him in check today - and, secondly, it was his first run following a 162-day break so may not have been quite as fit as he could be. I reckon that race will have warmed him up nicely for this and I'm looking forward to watching him take on If You Say Run, which is expected to go off at 100/30 or thereabouts.
Under the guidance of Paul Nicholls, that horse gets a sex allowance which will come in useful, and although she won her chasing debut against her own sex at Worcester recently, it was an easy enough assignment and I'm not sure we learned a lot from that race. Over timber, she was a little inconsistent and she has a tendency to hang left under pressure so I reckon the favourite has her measure here.
At Naas, I'm going to take a chance on a Tony Martin-trained horse at a very big price in the Grade B Brown Lad Handicap Hurdle (1.40). Noble Emperor has not been seen in over three years and regular readers will know it's not my usual policy to back horses after a long lay-off but I've a sneaky feeling about this entry as it's a good quality race to make a comeback in, and he's also quite good on the expected soft to heavy ground.
He had been fined as a non-trier in the past which was eventually overturned. I could be miles off but Tony Martin can often find good opportunities after a lay-off and at 40/1, there's not a whole lot to lose with a fun-sized punt each-way.
Rock De Baune will most likely go off as favourite around 7/2 for John Kiely's yard and he's another one which could be very well treated, coming from the Flat, although these are the type of eyecatchers that punters will get stuck in to and I doubt there will be much value around. If I could get him at 5/1, I'd take it but I'd say that's quite unlikely.
Back at Wincanton, White Moon is tipped around 7/2 for the Listed Badger Beers Silver Trophy Handicap Chase (12.40). Another one for Colin Tizzard and Robbie Power, he was well supported in the markets after a 272-day break in a handicap chase here off a rating of 137 and he looked like the winner before he went and fell at the last.
He's gone up 5lbs in the weights but he's surely got more to come and this looks a good opportunity to get back on track.
The one I'm most worried about is Present Man for Paul Nicholls under Bryony Frost. He's going for a hat-trick in this race although at 148, he's 4lb higher than last year and 6lb higher than the previous win in this.
He struggled badly when rated 150 in the later stages of the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown when last seen back in April, and as he gets that little bit older he may find life more tough around this mark.
Stablemate Give Me A Copper is also worth a mention and put in some good shifts around this level last season without actually winning.