What a weekend treat a plethora of jumping’s biggest superstars on show across Britain and Ireland over the next two days.
The BetVictor Fighting Fifth is one of the best renewals I have ever seen so many ramifications for the Champion Hurdle itself pitching up dual Champion Hurdler himself Buveur D’Air, Samcro and Summerville Boy. Normally it is a procession for an odds-on favourite this is not the case, Buveur D’Air (Evens) has his work cut out!
Had Samcro (2-1) not met with defeat at the hooves of Bedrock then that Evens I suspect would be much bigger. Bedrock is back to put the shivers up Samcro, however I feel that Samcro will strip plenty fit enough for this examination. I favour Summerville Boy, if he is going to beat Buveur D’Air it could be when first they meet. It’s a race without pace and I sense that is why Bleu Et Rouge is a runner he may be there to give Buveur D’Air a fast pace but surely that will suit Samcro and even more the Supreme Novice Hurdle winner Summerville Boy who will love this flat track with a long straight to kick on from.
Newcastle also plays host to the Rehearsal Chase run at 3.20, Big River is a horse who has won on any ground from good to heavy, he has met some top calibre rivals and beat them, for example Seeyouatmidnight over hurdles. His initial few runs over fences saw him be laboured at the obstacles and hitting flat spots but he was taking on Warwick and an inform Ms Parfois. I hoping he is better in a race with more than a handful of runners and he can just sit off the pace. The enormity of this course and it’s sweeping bends will allow him to get in a better rhythm.
Now to Newbury, shame only 13 for the Ladbroke Trophy at 3.00 and that Kemboy is a defection due to travel difficulties though at least that means the three that I had narrowed it down to as my picks for the event has reduced to just the two! Ms Parfois is attempting to be only the second mare to win the race since Kerstin in 1959, so you can see the difficulty of her task but this isn’t the strongest of renewals.
Ms Parfois started on a rating of 123 and ended on 146 such was the level of her improvement, her last run saw her putting it to Terrefort in the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase at Aintree, she doesn’t shirk a battle and is a little terrier. She jumps first and thinks second, so she attacks her fences which is her greatest character. She will receive 11lb from top weight and my main pick Black Corton. He may be small but he has a big heart arguably he may have won the Charlie Hall but for the horrendous error at the third fence. He has already beaten Ms Parfois by 8 lengths, favourite Elegant Escape by 1 ½ lengths and boasts a Grade 1 victory plus I sense Newbury’s flat track is more his forte than the undulations of Cheltenham.
Of all the runnings and there have been 61, 24 of them have been won by 7 year old, only 3 by those aged 10 or older.
Weight is generally not an issue as half the winners have carried 11stone or more and eight of those carried top weight. Another big thumbs up for Black Corton. He’ll be up near the front dictating the pace others will have to follow so come on Bryony!
When asked at the start of the season who was my horse to follow without hesitation it had to be Whatswrongwithyou, he oozes potential. Nicky Henderson’s runner won two of his four hurdles and was favourite for the Imperial Cup at Sandown. Oh my word he was so unlucky not helped by his inexperience. His eventual finishing position was third and I don’t know how he managed that! A small, intimate, select field will suit and he runs in the listed Gerry Fielden hurdle at 2.25. I can’t wait!
Oh my what a card at Fairyhouse on Sunday three Grade 1s with the highlight the Hattons Grace Hurdle. Before we get on to that lets check out Carlisle where Rons Dream in the 1.25 may have a chance of landing the Mares Chase at 1.25. An exceptional battler when taking on the boys in handicaps she now runs against her own sex.
Back to Fairyhouse and a day to side in part with Gordon Elliott, the unbeaten Commander Of Fleet (1.05) steps up from a facile maiden hurdle win to running in a Grade 1. He looked very able but we don’t know the depth of what he beat, or its more of a case of being cautious poised to get very excited.
Gordon Elliott again in the Drinmore Chase at 1.35, he has won the race four times in the last eight years and this time round his representative is Delta Work who never completely fulfilled his potential over the smaller obstacles yet he looks as though he could excel over the bigger ones providing the tempo is swift.
The trainer’s Apples Jade is going for her third straight Hattons Grace Hurdle, she’s already won beating Jezki in a Grade 2 at Navan on the 11 November, who would dare go against a real success for the sentimentalists. Keep an eye on Supasundae who was third in the race last year, he could win the Stayers’ at the Festival in March!