horse racing

NTF 1 to follow from the weekend: Viking primed to pillage a big pot…

A superb 3 days of racing from Prestbury Park over the weekend and needless to say the notebook was in constant overdrive.

The highlight of the weekends action was undoubtedly the Paddy Power Gold Cup. AL FEROF put in an outstanding performance in the 2m4f contest and marked himself down as a major player for the season ahead. GRANDS CRUS and HUNT BALL both failed to finish in the race and have to be marked down as major disappointments, the Pipe horse more so. Will any of that 3 now make an impact in the Gold Cup come March? HUNT BALL is going to have to markedly improve on that run if he is to anywhere near figure as a player, there is a big sense that the bubble has well and truly popped. GRANDS CRUS has never really been on my radar as a Gold Cup player, even less so after this run. The worrying thing was how tamely he folded when the gun was put to his head. Back to the drawing board for him I would say. AL FEROF looks all class but I wouldn’t be convinced he has the tools to make into a Gold Cup player. The Ryanair looks the obvious route and he should more than have the class to get seriously involved in that contest; it will be interesting to see how they campaign him going on from here.

I could have gone a number of ways with my ‘1 to follow from the weekend’ runner but I have decided to go down the stayers route and have plumped for one of the placed runners in the highly competitive 3m3f Henrietta Knight Handicap Chase…

NTF 1 to follow from the weekend

VIKING BLOND (N Twiston-Davies) – Saturday 1.55 Cheltenham – 3rd in the 3m3f Grade 3 Handicap Chase

The Twiston-Davies runner came here off the back of a confidence booster at the track over timber last month and ran an extremely eye-catching race from the front. He was still in there with every chance jumping the last and only really gave way on landing as they settled down for the push up the hill to the line. To the horse’s credit he kept battling al the way to the line and only went down by 2 1/2 lengths.

This 7yo was set some incredibly tough (if not impossible) tasks on his first season chasing last term –

Chase start 4: Welsh National – pulled-up 6/1 favourite

Chase start 5: Listed Limited Handicap at Ascot – well beaten 5th

Chase start 6: Aintree National! – first fence faller

Chase start 7: Bet365 Gold Cup – pulled up when never getting in contention

For a horse in his first season over fences that was a bloody tough set of races after his initial 3 runs in Novice company.

On the plus side, however, it did see his handicap mark slip from 139 down to its current level of 132. I would be convinced that is a mark he can do some damage from, especially with that tough first season under his belt now. Judged on Saturday’s run it happily looks like last season has not left its mark.

He is a fairly small framed horse so he probably doesn’t appreciate being crowded for the lead and it is prudent to note that he was never really over-challenged for the lead on Saturday. I wouldn’t be overly confident of his chances in races where there are a multitude of front-runners to contend with.

The ground almost certainly aided his cause on Saturday and a quick look at his form tells us that we only really want to be with him when there is at least the minimum amount of cut in the ground –

Form on Good to Soft or worse – 312122014P5P23

Form on Good or better – 469P63703F0

He really wants to get his toes into the ground and is much better when there is plenty juice underfoot.

I’m also not convinced that Cheltenham is the ideal track for him despite the fact he has run some big races there –

Cheltenham form – 62307423

8 runs at the track and 0 wins is starting to suggest that whilst he handles the track he maybe isn’t completely at home there.

Chepstow looks more his cup of tea (form of 211P at the track) and it may well be that another tilt at the Welsh National is in the pipeline. This time from a more favourable mark and with a bit more experience under his belt.

Saturday’s effort was a return to form (right in line with his best RPR figures) and the signs are he is coming to the boil and getting ready to strike.

VIKING BLOND ideal conditions – Good to Soft or worse ground | Not too much competition for the lead | 3m+ handicap chases (hurdle races not ruled out if conditions correct) 

Who were the runners that caught your attention and went in your own notebook as ones to follow from the weekend?

Did you see any clear-cut Cheltenham Festival contenders amongst the weekends runners?

Drop me a comment below and share your runners to follow from the weekend with the NTF readers.

Happy Punting

Ben – (NTF)

9 responses to “NTF 1 to follow from the weekend: Viking primed to pillage a big pot…”

  1. As you mentioned on your horses to follow list, GOULANES is a battler and he did it again on Saturday. Travelled really well through the race and again showed those battling qualities up the hill. He’s only had 2 runs so should have some improvement in him, my only concern would be that his sire Mr Combustible has yet to produce a decent 130+ horse

    • Hi Jon

      Yes it was good to see GOULANES score for my – 5 that just missed the cut list – decent price as well.

      Fair point about his sire. I guess it is still relatively early in his sire career but it is something to keep in mind. I would expect GOULANES to improve again once sent fencing and on the limited evidence we have he is well on track to being the best Mr Combustible progeny to date.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  2. hi,i did not have any luck over weekend,but i watched trainer bewley 3 horses none were fancied,but i have a feeling our joey will win,maybe 2 races thank u tony ???

    • Hi Tony

      Yes the Bewley horses were probably pitching well above their heads but hopefully they will all have learned from the experience. I would expect INOOGOO to land a couple on the northern circuit. OUR JOEY is still young but he ran well enough and is another that should be winning soon, back in his own grade.

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  3. Hi Ben,
    I think you may be premature in writing off HUNT BALL,it was desperate ground and also his first run of the season! I know this game is all about opinion,so time will tell.

    • Hi Dan

      I’m always open to having my mind changed. One thing that I did consider was the fact his young trainer maybe doesn’t quite have the ability to get his runners bouncing fit first time out for a race of this stature. I remain to be convinced that HUNT BALL can take that next step but I’m also open to changing my mind should he prove me wrong.

      As you say it’s all about opinions…

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

    • Kelly

      Indeed, FAR WEST was impressive. He looks a long term prospect to me but no doubt he has the ability to land more races this season…

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  4. The most impressive performance was for me on Thursday 15th of November 2012 the 6 year old French bred Tarla ( FR) from the Willie Mullins stable in the
    14:55 Clonmel (IRE), 15 Nov 2012
    2m 4f E.B.F. T.A. Morris Memorial Mares Chase (Grade 3) (Class 1) (5YO plus) Winner €24,374.

    Im a paddock observer or i make my bets according to what i see in the ring not based on form.
    This was not a donkeys race the opposition wasnt too bad with Great Oak and Knockfierna very good horses to the eye. But the presence of Tarla was just intimidating every other horse from the very beginning. It made a huge pace as Front Runner carrying the head in Royal demeneaour, displaying great energy in his running and the stride is really very good. If you pause the video at the bends you will see, that this horse has a really good long stride, but his whole appearance isnt unflexible either, Hisphysical comformation is really good and the way it scooted away in the end with such a ease tells me this is a high class Chaser coming up over the 2m4f distance. The 3miles could be not ideal for this horse, i wouldnt send it to uphill tracks but it has the class to beat a few animals over 2m4f in the Class 1 division soon. What do you guys think?

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