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What we learned from the weekend: 4th, 5th & 6th December…

Altior, Altior! Wherefore art thou Altior?

So Altior decided not to grace us with his presence in the Tingle Creek on Saturday, or more to the point Nicky Henderson decided not to let his stable star out to play in the soft conditions (HEAVY ground you imbecile, it was definitely Heavy!! OK mate, calm down, heavy ground, jesus…)…

But you know what, I don’t really care. It was one horse in one race on one Saturday of the season…there was more than enough going on (without Altior) to keep us entertained over the weekend and with that in mind, here’s the latest ‘What We Learned From The Weekend’ post…

What we learned from the weekend: 4th, 5th & 6th December…

1. CHRIS’S DREAM continues to tally up the Grade 1 losses…

The John Durkan on Sunday provided us viewers with some of the best displays of jumping we’ve seen since…nah, who am I kidding! We couldn’t see bugger all! Hell, even the commentator stepped out for a fag when they were going down the back-straight! 🚬

Visually we gained very little from the race, but regardless of that we can still add some more pieces of the National Hunt puzzle to our knowledge banks. One thing I did take from the result was the fact CHRIS’S DREAM (H De Bromhead) still hasn’t managed to crack those G1’s races, meaning he is now 0/6, 1p at G1 level. He’s not been unfancied in those races either, starting at 6/1 or less 4-times and never bigger than 20-1.

To be fair to him I was starting to come round to the fact he could possibly be a G1 animal after his second in the Ladbrokes Champion Chase at Down Royal last time out, but the G1 ‘defeats’ are starting to tally up and I just don’t ever see him really being a multiple G1 winner, albeit he could sneak one somewhere along the line, if he can avoid the proper G1 players out there.

Off the back of that John Durkan it is also worth noting that Chris’s Dream’s trainer Henry De Bromhead is now 3/72 | 4% S/R | -£56.38 LSP – 64% below exp in Grade 1’s at Punchestown, which I must say I’m slightly surprised by, but facts are facts, and the facts are that HDB runners do tend to struggle to get their hooves on Grade 1 prizes at Punchestown…

Will Chris’s Dream ever manage to get his hooves on a Grade 1?

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2. SANTINI flattered to deceive…again…

Last season’s Gold Cup runner-up huffed and puffed his way to a 1L defeat in the Many Clouds Chase on Saturday, running a bit of strange race, with the 8yo being niggled at on and off for plenty of the race. The omission of fences probably didn’t help him (none in home straight were jumped) but in fairness he didn’t look the sharpest on seasonal debut last term (beating the 144-rated Now McGinty by a head at Sandown) and maybe he just needs a pipe-opener to blow the cobwebs away. He’s a big unit so you’d expect him to improve significantly for the outing, like he did last season, improving almost 20lbs on the RPR scale from race 1 to race 2.

Personally I wouldn’t be judging him too harshly on this effort and he’ll be better judged on his next start. There’s possibly also a line of thinking (in my head anyway) that he’s ideally suited by Cheltenham, with form at the track of…

1st (G2 Nov Hurdle)

3rd (G1 Nov Hurdle – Albert Bartlett)

2nd (G1 Novice Chase – RSA)

1st (G2 Chase – Cotswold Chase)

2nd (G1 Chase – Gold Cup)

…and if you look at the RPR figures he’s recorded for his chases you see that the top two performances have come at Cheltenham and three of his four best performances have come at Cheltenham. He maybe just needs the harsh undulations of Prestbury Park to get his motor fully running.

Until further evidence is compiled I wouldn’t have Saturday’s effort denting his Gold Cup chances any, far from it. I’m not saying he’s a definite Gold Cup winner in waiting, but he’s certainly a player in the big one…

Expect improvement from Santini as we reach deeper into the season…

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3. FLYING ANGEL could be a sneaky one for the spring…

I’ve had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the Twiston-Davies 9yo over the years…he’s one of those I thought I had a handle on but then he just didn’t quite deliver when I expected him to.  I’ve not backed him for a while in all honesty but he does keep appearing on my radar most of the time he runs and I’m now beginning to wonder if he’s a Topham Chase winner of the future…

He ran a fine fourth in the Sefton Chase over the National fences on Saturday and he’s now completed the course all four times he’s been over the big fences…

10th in 2018 Topham

6th in 2019 Topham

4th in 2019 Sefton

4th in 2020 Sefton…

…those runs giving some kind of hope that he might manage to snaffle a Topham or Sefton at some point, especially as the races pretty much fall under his Prime Conditions…

Feb-Nov | OR 150 or less | 2m5f or less | flat-slightly und tracks

…where he is…

6/14, 3p – all 6 career wins

….so you’ve only really that Handicap mark to look out for (he’s currently OR 140). If he drops a couple pounds more before the Topham in April he would become even more appealing, over fences he clearly loves to negotiate.

Keep Flying Angel in mind for spring 2021 and the National fences…

Cheers – Ben (NTF)

10 responses to “What we learned from the weekend: 4th, 5th & 6th December…”

  1. Good review as always. On the Santini front I’m beginning to think he’s not always genuine and doesn’t want to go past I felt that having backed him in the Gold Cup.

    • Thanks Ian

      Not sure Santini isn’t genuine, just have a feeling he needs the tough landscape of Cheltenham to get his motor running and maybe breaks some of the others. The Cotswold Chase is quite an attritional race, maybe that is just the ideal race for him, the Gold Cup is possibly almost ideal but he possibly needs a bit of luck/one or two to underperform to land that (not impossible).

      Ben (NTF)

  2. I really didn’t think much of the Many Clouds race with so many fences missing. To me Santini is definitely a horse that needs a run but also Aintree is likely to tight for him.

    • Hi Kevin

      Yeah, with so many fences omitted it was half the race it should have been and thoroughly changed the complexion of the contest.

      Would agree that the Aintree Chase track wouldn’t be the ideal hunting ground for Santini, good place for him to get his fitness up though 😉

      Ben (NTF)

  3. I thought Native River ran well and could have done with jumping the closing fences. Still a major force on Soft or heavy gr.

    • Hi Stewart

      Absolutely, you could almost see Native River’s heart sink when he didn’t have the fences to jump down the homestraight, horse lives for jumping and definitely knocked his chances of winning the race.

      Think he’s got another Denman Chase in him at Newbury and could possibly see him sneaking a Gold Cup place at best, I’d be surprised if he had another G1 in him though, unless they head to Leopardstown over Xmas for the Saville Chase, that could be a decent spot for him. Be plenty of tough opposition against him mind you but a better spot than Kempton for the King George (doesn’t seem to handle Kempton).

      Cheers – Ben (NTF)

  4. chris’s dream is a classic example of the official handicapper going overboard but that’s not criticism,he had no choice the way they work but ,146 to 160 then 165 winning a hcap easy and then a grade 2 where many ran below form in that.so now he gets a grade 2 penalty if he stays in grade 2 races and 165 means top weight in hcaps allowing improver’s to come along carrying 10 stone or thereabouts.we have saw shattered love who he beat by 2.5 lengths get stuffed in grade 1 as well by the likes of mins by 19 lengths and 24 lengths and he himself took a 23 lengths beating by min in the john durkan.

    • Yes, he’s stuck in a bit of no-mans-land at present. I’d fancy him in Grade 2 company regardless of penalties but grade 1 company, I feel he just needs a weak one or a number of his rivals to underperform…he’s a classy horse but seems just a smidge below proper G1 level…

      Ben (NTF)

  5. regarding the many clouds chase,this was a classic example of never discard the outsiders,like i did with lake view lad.i had a theory on keepers hill anyway that the trainer is just collecting a few thousand by running last in these big races until his hcap mark is down were he thinks he will off,but i had to choose between native river,santini and frodon and totally ignored lake view lad.with santini needing it fto and frodon stamina concerns over this trip on heavy ground,it left native river really who goes well fresh.i would of liked the fences to be there but ,in the future when you look at these races when you see grade 1 types and grade 3 /listed types,look at there ratings

    santini only just won at sandown when 19lb higher than his rival ,minus 8lb in weight so 11lb better off to a 144 horse.he got away with it.lake view lad is a 154 horse and he didn’t get away with despite despite being 12lb better off,roughly the same as last year but taking on a much better horse this time.

    also native river should of beat a 149 horse much easier in the denman last year 15lb better of for a 2.75l win suggests he as regressed as hes got older.

    • At the start of the day Native River looked the bet (I didn’t play in the race personally) but as soon as those fences are removed it’s a different race and you suddenly remove one of his biggest weapons (his jumping).

      On a form perspective it’s hard to draw firm conclusions but at least Santini got a good blow!

      Agree on Keepers Hill, very much looks like they are ticking away at the back of these races getting some prize money (already pulled in nearly 15K from 3 starts this season, never closer than 17L at finish) whilst all the time getting his mark down. Down another 3lbs for Saturday and that is now 5lbs down since start of season. Smart campaigning by Greatrex to be fair…

      Ben (NTF)

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