An interesting thing about regular blogging is to know how to deal with the “what to write about on a wet Tuesday” syndrome.
Perhaps the best thing today is to take a look at the weekend ahead as there are some exciting entries, especially with three G1 novice races.
The Finale at Chepstow is not a race I’ve ever particularly liked. Typically on very heavy ground I’ve never thought of it as a great pointer to the Triumph – though of course Defi Du Seuil won them both last year. Looking at the list of winners you have to go back to 1994 to find Mysilv as the previous horse to have achieved that particular double, though both Franchoek and Walkon won the Finale and were second at Cheltenham. Interesting also that Bristol De Mai won the Finale as recently as three years ago. I bet the going was heavy that day.
Having rescheduled (and presumably reopened) the race, the Finale seems much stronger than it looked a week ago, with no less a juvenile as Apple’s Shakira among the entries, as well as the other very decent looking Henderson juvenile We Have A Dream. If either of those runs then that would be the horse to take all the beating.
I have seen Apple’s Shakira twice at Cheltenham and while she’s won both races really easily I was visually more impressed by We Have A Dream’s win at Doncaster. But you can’t get away from the way the trainer talks about Apple’s Shakira as the next coming.
At Sandown they run the Tolworth Hurdle. Now this race does have an illustrious roll of honour, including the mercurial Yorkhill, and going back two brilliant Cheltenham novice winners, Monsignor and French Holly. Saturday’s contest looks up to scratch with easy Ascot winner Claimantakinforgam, Amy Murphy’s very promising Kalishnikov and the aforementioned We Have A Dream. Look forward to that, and if I can shake off this cold I might be there to see it.
But perhaps the best novice race at the weekend will be at Naas on Sunday where they run the Lawlor’s of Naas Novice Hurdle, a G1 which includes this season’s hype horse Samcro – already for some people the Irish banker for Cheltenham. Willie Mullins says that Next Destination is also heading there and pretty much all the good novices from Ireland hold an entry at this stage. So that could be some clash!
Incidentally of the 15 entered at Naas, 8 are owned by Giggingstown, 7 of those 8 are trained by Gordon Elliot (who also has another entry), and only 3 are trained by Willie Mullins. I wonder whether that underlines the shifting sands in Irish NH racing?
So if it is wet and dreary out the window then there is some exciting novice action to look forward to this weekend, and plenty of pointers for the Festival – now only 10 weeks away. Scary how close it is already.