horse racing

What we learned from the weekend: 25th & 26th of February…

Camping Ground smashed back to form at Fontwell!

Did the biggest story of last weekend happen away from the track?

Is Thistlecrack really going to ‘do a Kicking King’?

Is ‘going for a scan on Tuesday‘ code for ‘we’ve been taking the p!ss out of you all for a couple of weeks‘?

Was Thistlecrack’s name meant to be in the envelope instead of Moonlight or La La Land?!?

Who the hell knows anymore!?

Surely connections are not going to take the risk with Thistlecrack and go from ‘out for the season with a tendon tear‘ to ‘nah, he’s fine, let’s run him in the hottest race of season off an interrupted build up‘, surely not…

It will be what it will be though and nothing, lets be fair, should surprise us these days…

That, however, is all to come, for now I need to deal with the actual physical action that took place on the track, in the latest edition of ‘What we learned from the weekend’

What we learned from the weekend: 25th & 26th of February…

1. Camping Ground is back…

Well…let’s not get too carried away, it is, after all, still Camping Ground and he has teased us with latent ability in the past, only to fail to back it up in subsequent starts.

Things may be different this time around, however, as he now finds himself in the capable hands of Gary Moore and the switch of yards has clearly worked the oracle for the underachieving 7yo French Bred gelding.

On Sunday he lined up in the National Spirit Hurdle at Fontwell and without turning a hair turned the race into a one way Camping Ground procession. You can shake it up any way you like but visually it has to go down as one of the most impressive hurdling performances of the season. Sure there were question marks over some of his opponents but even still the way he demolished the opposition by upwards of  29L was nothing if not breathtaking.

The obvious question now is as to whether he can back up the effort. We’ve been here before with him, like when he smashed the field in the 2016 Relkeel Hurdle by upwards of 11L but then failed to show anywhere near the same sparkle in any of his next six starts, and it’s not hard to imagine him following a similar path again, until he randomly decides he wants to go out there and blow our minds again with an out of the ball-park effort.

Then again is his form all that random?

The Fontwell win took his Jan-Feb form to 15511 (all 3 UK wins – he is 4U952F in other months) and that could potentially be the key to him, albeit it is Camping Ground, and it’s unlikely to be that straightforward!!

The talk now, naturally, is of his Cheltenham target(s) and at the minute he is entered in the Coral Cup and the World Hurdle.

Both races that offer up strong Dosage pointers.

Camping Ground’s figures of 4-3-15-0-0 | (20+) | 22 | 1.93 | 0.50 are, unfortunately, wide of the mark for both those races.

He is closer to the Coral Cup Dosage figures rather than the World Hurdle figures, admittedly, so if they are going down the Cheltenham route that would look the ‘wiser’ option, on the Dosage side of things anyway.

I really hope that Moore can get this horse firing at a consistent level as he’s clearly talented and on his day he could be a match for anything.

We just need to see that day more often…

Can Gary Moore solve the puzzle that is Camping Ground?


2. Gigginstown House and Mouse Morris may just have another live Grand National hope…

Despite Gigginstown supremo Michael O’Leary bumping his gums about the weights allocated to some of his horses in this year Aintree National the signs are that he does have a serious contender for the race and one that’s lurking a fair bit further down the weights than the Don Poli’s and Outlander’s of this world.

That horse’s name is Thunder And Roses.

The 9yo fired in his best performance since winning the 2015 Irish National when only going down by 1/2L to the superbly ridden Pleasant Company in the Bobbyjo Chase at Fairyhouse at the weekend. The Mouse Morris trained gelding deserves plenty of credit for this effort as he led the field at a fair old gallop (considering the conditions) and was only done by the winner on the run-in, with the pair of them upwards of 51L clear of the remainder come the line. Despite the fact he’s not won since taking that 2015 Irish National, he has shown on a number of occasions that he’s far from a spent force, with some solid bits and bats of form since then.

If he goes straight to the Aintree Grand National off the back of this run he will be high enough on my trends for the race although I wouldn’t mind seeing him win a race between now and then just to make him an absolute prime fit on the figures.

Whether we see him again before April or not he’s certainly a highly interesting contender for the big one as we know he stays and jumps for fun and on the Dosage side of things he’s a comfortable fit, as his pedigree is simply bogged down with stamina influences.

He currently sits 65th on the Grand National entries, although I suppose that’s technically 62nd if O’Leary remains true to his word and takes his ‘big three’ out of the race, and that, I think, gives him a decent enough chance of slipping into the race on a decent fighting weight.

My only minor quibble would be that damn headgear stat (mentioned in last weeks post) as he is a cheek-pieces wearer…

O’Leary may be causing Thunder but he may still come out the other ending smelling of Roses…


3. Connections of BetBright Chase second Double Shuffle are also gunning for Aintree glory…

Double Shuffle was in danger of turning into one of those that promised plenty but didn’t quite return as much. Until, that is, they stepped him up to 3 miles and stuck a hood on him. Since then he’s ran away with a valuable 3 miler at Kempton and backed that up with a close second in the BetBright Chase on Saturday, a race he could arguably have won had he not clouted three out, albeit giving 19lbs to the winner (Pilgrims Bay) would probably have always proved very difficult.

Three miles has obviously unlocked his full potential and visually he does look a more complete animal, travelling smoothly and firing in some fence devouring leaps on his way round. He’s currently a horse bang in form and connections are keen to capitalize on that and are gunning for a big end of season pot in the shape of the Aintree Grand National.

But I see a bit of an issue with that myself…

He’s a 7yo.

The record of those aged younger than 8 in the last 20 Grand Nationals reads…

0/50, 0 places

That’s pretty damming.

Furthermore the record of those horses that are yet to even contest a race over 3m1f or further is a shockingly poor…

0/85, 6 places

Double Shuffle is yet to race over further than 3 miles.

Add in the fact that if he goes straight to Aintree from Kempton and those making the same trip in the last 20 years are…

0/28, 0 places

…then I just can’t entertain Double Shuffle one little bit for Aintree Glory this spring.

The stats say that it’s best to side with experience over youth as well as one that had at least been tested over 3m1f+ and Double Shuffle, unfortunately, falls down on both those stats. And that’s without me even really properly digging into my stats machine for the race…

Tom George should Shuffle his Double plans and hang fire with the Aintree assault until at least next year…

Ten essential Cheltenham Festival stats you NEED to be aware of…

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If you are not on the free list and want this guide (and if you are serious about betting at Cheltenham then you really SHOULD want this guide!) then simply nip along here or on the link below and follow the instructions for instant download of the guide…

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The second of my free guides will also be released shortly…

Ben (NTF)

2 responses to “What we learned from the weekend: 25th & 26th of February…”

  1. camping ground is coral cup entered not pertemps as he hasnt run in any qualifiers so would is dosage stats fit better in the 2m5f coral cup rather than the 3m pertemps hurdle?

    having followed double shuffle since i backed him in the close brothers last year,i assumed he was ultima chase bound and am shocked they miss that in favour of the grand national.

    i think though he wouldn’t of won at kempton anyway despite his 3 out blunder,he recovered well enough to draw away from theatre guide and the winner travelled too strongly for me to suggest double shuffle would of won without that blunder.

    • Good spot Rob, cheers, not sure where my head was at there!

      His Dosage stats are a better fit for the Coral Cup, yes, although still not bang on for the race. I’d be more confident about him in the Coral Cup though…

      I agree that the Ultima would have appeared a better option this season than the National (for Double Shuffle) but looks like their minds are made up. He ran well enough in the Close Brothers Chase last year to suggest the track and festival environment are no issue to him at all and would surely have been a serious player in the 3 miler. Shame they don’t go…

      Ben (NTF)

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