Week THIRTEEN saw the stable drop a few positions but make ground up on the overall leader (Now just 165pts behind). The trio of victories from Altior (25pts), Saint Calvados (20pts) and Native River (25pts) made up for the disappointing run of Jenkins and the missed opportunity of putting in Kalashnikov. Still, it goes to show how easy it could be to make ground up with the right selections at this stage of the competition.
With the Grade 1 Ascot Chase (50pts) a bonus race this weekend, opinion is bound to be divided with Top Notch and Waiting Patiently sharing favouritism. Most stables towards the top of the table are likely to have both running for them but the deciding factor will be the “stable star” choice. Both will be running for the stable this weekend and I have sided with Waiting Patiently, rightly or wrongly. His form against the likes of God’s Own, Politologue and Josses Hill the deciding factor. With just five runs over fences, he could still be on the upward curve, whereas Top Notch lacks a little more size and, although impressive in his runs to date, may just be holding his level of form. That said, Top Notch does come back in this week at the expense of Jenkins to pick up any pieces.
Over at Haydock there is another bonus race with the Grand National Trial (50pts) attracting this year’s ante-post Grand National favourite Blaklion. He was second in the race last year giving 6lb to Vieux Lion Rouge and being a previous RSA Chase winner he should be able to give 13lb and 17lb to The Dutchman and Wild West Wind who are improving handicappers. He comes in for Native River and should at least grab some points if not all.
Finally, there were plenty of options to score good points. There was a competitive 30pt race at Ascot where Gold Present was going to line up (he is now a non-runner) and over at Wincanton, Ch’tibello looks a solid selection in the Kingwell Hurdle, which is another 30pt race. Both do look beatable though and so a chance has been taken on Dieg Man in the Ascot Spring Garden Show Handicap Hurdle (25pts). He comes in for Getabird and is a horse that I thought could be a Lanzarote Hurdle type after seeing his Novice Hurdle wins. His mark of 130 still looks lenient and he could be heading towards either the Coral Cup or the Martin Pipe Conditional Jockeys race at the Festival after victory here – he looks to just have consistent sort Kildisart to beat.
Until next time…..