T’was the season to be jolly for blog-followers on Tuesday (“Tuesday Races: Fortune favours the brave”), with a win single and a place double offering 9/1 and 7/1 returns respectively. Might Bite’s King George win leaves our Christmas Eve double (“It Might be a merry Christmas”) in good shape.
The challenge for Wednesday, weather permitting, is the annual Somme-like war of attrition that is the Welsh National in the bogs of Chepstow.
Whilst we like the chances of Beware The Bear, this ground will surely make this much harder. Our shortlist comprises Raz de Maree, last year’s runner up who might just be too old but should place; Folsom Blue who will love the ground and comes from a handicap king; and top choice Vintage Clouds.
Vintage Clouds first caught our eye in battle with blog favourite Bigmartre early in a novice hurdle career. He has looked good over fences and is on the kind of upward curve that could have him ahead of the handicap. He goes well on heavy, and should enjoy the longer trip here, a good racing weight helps, and he’s a fair price.
(A nod here to the analysis of Adam and the boys at the Eagle Ale House during an enjoyable pre-Xmas racing drinks night).
Over in Dublin, the Leopardstown Christmas festival hosts an even more tricky handicap chase – the Paddy Power.
We do like the each way chances of Forever Gold who will hopefully give a boost to the form of blog-icon Presenting Percy and looks overpriced.
But this may finally by the day for massive-gamble-failure horse Squouateur. He was once an amazing 9/4 for the Martin Pipe at Cheltenham (6th), and was favourite again when unseating late in the Kim Muir there this year.
It can be easy to dismiss a horse after expensive failures but he actually ran well both times, and for all that this is a huge handicap it is no harder than the Festival. The horse is only six so can be forgiven not landing the gamble yet.
This could be his day with trip and course to suit, a good low racing weight, a tidy warm-up effort over an inadequate 2 miles at Fairyhouse, and crucially Barry Gerraghty up top.
The two big Cheltenham gambles came in apprentice and amateur events, and indeed Barry has only ridden him once, to victory in his only other Leopardstown appearance. It seems significant he’s back in the saddle for this lucrative prize.
Vintage Clouds, (1450 Chepstow), 1pt each way, 14/1 Boylesports
Squouateur, (1500 Leopardstown), 1pt win, 6/1 Stan James, Betfair
Vintage Clouds & Squouateur, 0.5pts each way double, approx 90/1
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