ROBERT COOPER WRITES

TV man picks his fan­cies to beat book­ies

The Racing Paper - - Front Page -

Ev­ery once in a while we dream of how to spend our lot­tery wind­fall; a new gate would be near the top of my list but I don’t think own­ing a string of race­horses would make my top five.

Ev­ery time I shift the wheelie bins from be­hind the above­men­tioned gate­way, a rot­ting seg­ment falls away to the ground like an au­tumn leaf. As with own­ing horses, there’s a fair slice of schmaltzi­ness; con­sid­er­ing how few horses win races, it’s amaz­ing how will­ing own­ers are to fork out thou­sands to keep them in five star ac­com­mo­da­tion. It’s the same with my gates; they were made and hung by my father 25 years ago, and he’s been in the car­pen­try shop in the sky since 1998. Whether it’s a gate, a slow race­horse, or and old pair of shoes, sen­ti­ment usu­ally wins over logic and com­mon sense.

As re­ported last week, ‘my horse’ Royal Sun­day (note mod­est lower case) ran at Sandown Park last Sun­day. Af­ter show­ing up well for half the race, he beat a hasty re­treat turn­ing out of the back straight and was pulled up by Harry Ban­nis­ter two out. De­spite the dis­ap­point­ing run, it was a crack­ing day out and the Sandown hos­pi­tal­ity was first rate, the only thing miss­ing was any­thing to cel­e­brate. Our trainer Alex Hales was quick to point out that the re­cent form of the yard’s run­ners has been some­what lack­lus­tre. Ev­ery rac­ing cliché was aired at the post-race in­quest – in short, there’ll be other days!

The over­all own­ers ex­pe­ri­ence of­fered me a glimpse of the ex­pec­ta­tions and dis­ap­point­ments in­volved. Around the same time on Sun­day af­ter­noon, I guess Si­mon Mu­nir and Isaac Souede wore sim­i­larly longish faces af­ter FOOTPAD’s win­ning se­quence hit the buf­fers at Naas. He re­turned sore and banged a leg af­ter a cou­ple of un­char­ac­ter­is­tic jump­ing er­rors were fol­lowed by an un­seemly exit at the fi­nal fence.

Full marks to Harry Whit­ting­ton tak­ing on FOOTPAD with SAINT CAL­VA­DOS; their only pre­vi­ous en­counter was in the Arkle at Chel­tenham when SAINT CAL­VA­DOS fin­ished as a dot on the hori­zon be­hind FOOTPAD.

I thought FOOTPAD was as awe­some a novice that I had seen for some time last win­ter but al­though there were valid ex­cuses made last week­end (aren’t there al­ways?) I wouldn’t rush to back him at 6-1 to beat AL­TIOR at Chel­tenham next March.

Should the duo meet again, I would side with SAINT CAL­VA­DOS – he was al­ways in to­tal com­mand and the quote of 16-1 is mildly tempt­ing, but AL­TIOR could be in a dif­fer­ent league. We’ll be a good deal wiser af­ter the Tin­gle Creek in three weeks.

To­day’s £160,000 Bet Vic­tor Gold Cup is as fu­ri­ously com­pet­i­tive as you would ex­pect for the money. Look­ing at the bet­ting, the book­ies and pun­ters must rate MIS­TER WHI­TAKER’s nar­row de­feat of RATHER BE at Chel­tenham last March as gilt-edged form. This will be RATHER BE’s first run since the Fes­ti­val, whereas MIS­TER WHI­TAKER looked in tremen­dous form beating HAPPY DIVA at Carlisle a few weeks ago, but the hand­i­cap­per has made it tough for Mick Chan­non’s chaser, rais­ing him 7 pounds.

I’m pin­ning my hopes on Paul Ni­choll’s sec­ond sea­son novice MOVEWITHTHETIMES [2.25 CHEL­TENHAM] who doesn’t im­me­di­ately leap out of the form book as a ready-made win­ner – in truth he’s yet to win over fences af­ter five at­tempts, and the lat­est at Fak­en­ham ended with his jockey Barry Ger­aghty pick­ing him­self up from the Nor­folk turf af­ter be­ing un­seated at around half way.

Jump­ing is cer­tainly an is­sue but he may just be one of those horses who runs best in top class com­pany, in a race run at a fre­netic pace. In fear of my the­ory be­ing doomed, I’ll have a saver on Neil Mull­hol­land’s KALON­DRA who was cruis­ing into con­tention when fall­ing two out at Gal­way – he’d pre­vi­ously run well here at Chel­tenham in April.

De­spite be­ing a cheese and bis­cuit pro­ducer’s dream, there ap­peared to be no fluke about CRACKER FAC­TORY [12.40 CHEL­TENHAM] [rid­den by Daryl JA­COB] win­ning the WENS­LEY­DALE Ju­ve­nile Hur­dle at Wetherby a cou­ple of weeks ago. All that’s miss­ing is a glass of port.

Alan King has a su­perb record train­ing young hur­dlers and CRACKER FAC­TORY has won four from five, and the form of his lat­est vic­tory looks strong as the horse he beat, CHIEF JUS­TICE, had won three times prior to their en­counter. The whop­ping span­ner in the works is Nicky Hen­der­son’s high pro­file French re­cruit NEVER ADAPT but she’ll need to be pretty sharp to beat CRACKER FAC­TORY.

Alan King’s ex­ploits on the Flat in 2018 have re­sulted in 32 winners and earn­ings of more than £430,000. King’s SCAR­LET DRAGON runs at Ling­field to­day in the listed Churchill Stakes in a Fast-Track Qual­i­fier for Fi­nals Day on Good Fri­day. He’s not with­out a chance hav­ing run well in a Group 3 at New­bury and the drop back to ten fur­longs could be a plus – how­ever I must give one more chance to Wil­liam Hag­gas’ ADDEYBB (2.45 LING­FIELD) who was never sighted be­hind ROAR­ING LION in the QE2 Stakes at As­cot, but a re­turn to his spring form would be strong enough for a big run here.

SIL­VER STREAK im­pressed me [3.00 CHEL­TENHAM. SUN­DAY] win­ning the Welsh Cham­pion Hur­dle last month and he’s my fancy for to­mor­row’s £100,000 Great­wood Hur­dle. The way he sprinted clear of use­ful op­po­si­tion was par­tic­u­larly eye­catch­ing. Back in the spring, Evan Wil­liams’ grey pro­duced an­other spring-heeled ef­fort to win Hay­dock’s Swin­ton Hur­dle, and he looks the type to con­tinue im­prov­ing.

Ground per­mit­ting the prospect of FAUGH­EEN, SAM­CRO and SUPASANDAE lock­ing horns in Punchestown’s Mor­giana Hur­dle to­mor­row is one not to be missed. The mighty HUR­RI­CANE FLY won this Grade One three times and FAUGH­EEN won last year – but he got turned over when 6-1 on favourite in 2015. They call him The Ma­chine – but even equine equiv­a­lents suf­fer me­chan­i­cal de­fects now and then.

“Jump­ing is cer­tainly an is­sue for Move with the times but he may be one of those horses who runs best in top class com­pany”

Fan­cied, but his jump­ing is a prob­lem: Movewiththetimes

Tough ask: Mick Chan­non

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