Week EIGHT was another disappointing one but stable star We Have A Dream (50pts) did win the Grade 1 Juvenile Finale Hurdle to nab double points. Rathlin Rose (0pts) ran very respectably as the rank outsider to finish sixth in the Welsh Grand National and at one point looked to be going well enough in the bonus race to land a blow. It wasn’t to be though and he still ended as one of two duck eggs, with Western Ryder (0pts) really disappointing in the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown. With Samcro missing the Grade 1 Novice Hurdle at Naas and favourite Next Destination winning, it meant the stable dropped down to 120th!
Looking at transfers this week it has had to be tactical. News broke in the week that Death Duty will be out for the rest of the season so he is taken out and replaced by Diese Des Bieffes who will run in the Lanzarote Hurdle (50pts) at Kempton, this weeks bonus race. He looked tapped for toe over two miles last time out behind promising novice If The Cap Fits and off a mark of just 135, with Mitchell Bastyan claiming a very useful 5lb he looks a solid contender to grab at least some points if not all. He gets a valuable 10lbs (without claim) off the next two in the betting so he will also be this week’s stable star!
The next to get the chop is Rathlin Rose who was never going to have long-term value. It means the Willy Mullins trained novice chaser Invitation Only comes in. On his chase debut he jumped big and fell in what was a hot race, but next time out he beat a very good yardstick in Any Second Now “comfortably” and on all form he only has to get the better of The Storyteller to win the Grade 2 Kildare Novice Chase (20pts) at Punchestown. He was highly tried as a novice hurdler and hopefully has too much class for these rivals.
Finally, a chance has been taken. Western Ryder flopped at Sandown but will be given another run on better ground before going to a Festival race. That is likely to be the Sidney Banks Memorial Hurdle at Huntingdon in early February, a race the stable has won the previous two years. For that reason, he stays in! As do Faugheen, Footpad and Samcro who all head to Leopardstown Winter Festival. It means that Fox Norton, who is unlikely to be seen again until Cheltenham gets the chop. That target is yet to be decided after his flop in the King George but it will either be in the Queen Mother Champion Chase or the Ryanair Chase, where he would have chances on his best form in both. His last two runs haven’t been ideal though and he supposedly tweaked his back which could potentially be a longer-term issue. It means Getabird also gets the call-up, as he takes on Mengli Khan in the Grade 2 Moscow Flyer Novice Hurdle (20pts). He was a good bumper horse and won nicely on his hurdles debut. Mengli Khan will be a tough nut for him to crack but that rival was on the pace in a fiercely run race just 17 days ago and has to give away 6lb in what will be testing ground. If points are to be made upon others then this looks a good opportunity as many will likely look to Gordon Elliott’s likely favourite.
As well as the three, Waiting Patiently also lines up in Listed Chase (20pts) at Kempton. He has to give weight to God’s Own but receives 2lb from the other two main players, Josses Hill and Smad Place. If he is expected to be Grade 1 class then he needs to win this. If he doesn’t then he will relatively be in “no-mans” land.
Points need to be scraped together this week and positions up the table gained to have any chance come Festival time…..