ROBERT COOPER WRITES

The Racing Paper - - Front Page - ROBERT COOPER

TV man picks his fan­cies for the week­end

In my shel­tered ex­pe­ri­ence the word ‘penalty’ rarely her­alds good news, it bears a puni­tive ring. The trem­bling goal­keeper at­tempt­ing to in­ter­cept a mis­sile from a spot 12 yards away does cer­tainly not wel­come it. A penalty is also very omi­nous for the mo­torist caught speed­ing; you are awarded penalty points but there is no prize-giv­ing cer­e­mony. And in rac­ing, car­ry­ing a penalty can make the dif­fer­ence be­tween vic­tory and de­feat.

Of the three men­tioned above, I can only vouch for the speed­ing va­ri­ety. I com­mit­ted a heinous crime ear­lier this month on the M25 mo­tor­way en route for Ling­field Park.

I was pho­tographed trav­el­ling at 62 mph in a 50 mph limit – I reckon I de­serve a medal for this un­in­ten­tional at­tempt at break­ing the sound bar­rier; achiev­ing any speed above sta­tion­ary is rare on this hate­ful high­way. In rac­ing par­lance, I will be a loser with­out a penalty as I have been in­vited to en­rol for a speed aware­ness course; it’s the first date in my 2019 di­ary.

A win­ner with a penalty is the well-fan­cied EL­E­GANT ES­CAPE, a lead­ing fancy for to­day’s Lad­broke Tro­phy at New­bury. He car­ries an ex­tra four pounds for beat­ing THOMAS PA­TRICK [3.00 NEW­BURY] in a re­cent en­counter at Sandown.

On five pounds bet­ter terms, I fancy Tom Lacey’s young chaser, not only to gain re­venge but win this top steeple­chase.

He was surely the moral vic­tor of a thrilling race, mak­ing all the run­ning un­til collared by EL­E­GANT ES­CAPE in the shad­ows of the post. You may not think that the bur­den equiv­a­lent to a large bag of sugar would make any dif­fer­ence to a strap­ping steeplechaser but cast your mind back 12 months when WHIS­PER failed by a dwin­dling neck to re­pel TO­TAL RE­CALL from get­ting up on the line. He too had a sim­i­lar penalty.

I’d fancy THOMAS PA­TRICK any­way as he has plenty in his favour; the re­cent rain will cerBEDROCK, tainly have been wel­comed by his in-form trainer, he’s won here at New­bury prior to fol­low­ing up in a Grade 3 chase at Ain­tree, and he’s got the cham­pion jockey Richard John­son in the sad­dle. He’s also in the right age bracket – only a six year-old but the same age as NA­TIVE RIVER, win­ner of the race in 2016.

By the time the run­ners for the Lad­broke Tro­phy face the starter at New­bury, it will be around an hour after the re­sult is known for un­de­ni­ably the high­est qual­ity Fight­ing Fifth Hur­dle for many a sea­son. Like last week­end’s Betfair Chase [which I pon­dered in­cor­rectly, although NA­TIVE RIVER ran a cracker] I have been chew­ing over the Fight­ing Fifth while, at the same time, con­sid­er­ing the venue for my Speed Aware­ness Course – it’s not un­like en­rolling for a uni­ver­sity de­gree.

SAM­CRO was might­ily dis­ap­point­ing when beaten by BEDROCK at Down Royal but the Gor­don El­liott camp can bank on a more pol­ished ef­fort to­day, although I don’t think that re­sult was a fluke; Ian Jar­dine’s part­nered again by Rachel Black­more, could be the value joker in the six-pack. Supreme Hur­dle vic­tor SUM­MERVILLE BOY makes his sea­sonal de­but and again Tom Ge­orge’s hur­dler isn’t mak­ing the 500 mile round trip just for fun, nei­ther is the reign­ing Cham­pion Hur­dler BU­VEUR D’AIR [2.05 NEW­CAS­TLE]. He was the win­ner of this race 12 months ago, although his task this time is far sterner.

BU­VEUR D’AIR’s record is 10 wins from 11 races over hur­dles, his sole de­feat was when third to the mighty AL­TIOR in the 2016 Supreme Hur­dle. His light­ning fast speed over hur­dles could be a cru­cial as­set in a truly rivet­ing re­newal.

I’ve be­come a big fan of WHAT­MORE [2.25 NEW­BURY] since his ster­ling ef­fort at Chep­stow when he was third in the Sil­ver Tro­phy Hur­dle, he has since made all the run­ning to win a de­cent hand­i­cap at Ban­gor and Henry Daly’s hur­dler de­serves a crack at this listed hur­dle. He’s tough and the sta­ble has been bang­ing in the win­ners this au­tumn.

I’m hop­ing that LADY BUT­TONS [3.35 NEW­BURY] makes the long jour­ney from Phil Kirby’s North York­shire base a win­ning won. She re­turns to chas­ing after land­ing the listed Mares’ Hur­dle at Wetherby last month. She’s a de­cent hur­dler but I reckon she could be­come a star over fences – she’s won two from three so far – and the two mile trip looks ideal.

Her only de­feat over fences was in a Grade One at Ain­tree, when she was by no means dis­graced.

It’s been a quiet week on the rac­ing front, although I have a few jaunts inked in this month, start­ing at Fak­en­ham on Tues­day. I’ll keep ev­ery digit crossed that the re­cent rain leads to more run­ners than the puny turn out a fort­night ago. This ex­cel­lent lit­tle track de­serves to be sup­ported, es­pe­cially with ex­cel­lent prize money on of­fer.

I’ve watched a few races on TV and by far the most im­pres­sive was MENGLI KHAN’s chas­ing de­but at Punchestown on Wed­nes­day – there’s a long way to go but his cur­rent quote of 7/1 for the Arkle Tro­phy at Chel­tenham is tempt­ing. It was about this time last year that FOOT­PAD pro­duced a sim­i­larly im­pres­sive de­but, and I waded in then and will prob­a­bly do so again with MENGLI KHAN.

It’s a shame I can’t in­vest with my re­cently ac­quired Co-Op vouch­ers. I parted com­pany with £4s worth on some red onions, blue­ber­rys and a bag of toma­toes.

When at the check­out I com­mented to the as­sis­tant that hav­ing spent mil­lions in this par­tic­u­lar branch, the points take a long time to ac­crue, her speedy re­ply of “if you’ve been on a cruise, I’m not sur­prised you’ve got noth­ing to spend” left me flum­moxed.

“On five pounds bet­ter terms, I fancy Tom Lacey’s young chaser, not only to gain re­venge but win this top steeple­chase”

Cham­pion: Richard John­son

De­serves his crack: What­more

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