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Wednesday 30 January 2013

Picking up the pieces

Have you ever picked up a piece of a jigsaw and thought it was the one piece you had been looking for only to find that although it looked like it was the right shape or colour it didnt fit the gap when you've tried to put it in place. Well thats what Cheltenham form study may be like over the next few weeks and during the festival itself. We will probably find horses that we think are tailor made for their respective races only to find that they fall short of what is required to win the event. Of course you may have one or two winners along the way but we will all need a certain amount of luck on our side even to do that.

The problems in finding a winner have been compounded this year by the weather with the constant soft/heavy going that we have experiencing for a while now. This means that we dont have any current good ground form to go on and come the festival, presuming it's faster ground than now, we will either have to guess that our selections will act on the surface or use form from last season.

This last week has seen several big names out as they tune up for their big moment in March and Katenko is a fine example of a young improving horse that we have not got to the bottom of who could figure at the festival. Wyck Hill who beat him at Ascot receiving 1lb (4-6 in chases) by 4 lengths is another that could also figure although he may run in the Racing Post Chase first for which his trainer thinks he will be favourably handicapped as Katenko followed up off an 11lb higher mark at Cheltenham last time having also won at Sandown in between. The third at Ascot was Roberto Goldback who was 35 lengths behind Katenko and Wyck Hill, RG had previously won at Ascot by 9 lengths off a mark of 150 and was going well in the Hennessey when unseating his rider midway down the back straight on the second circuit off 162. On his first start of the season Wyck Hill (OR122) had beaten Sue Smith's Fill The Power (OR125) at Wetherby by half a length, WH ran off 135 at Ascot having been 5lb out of the handicap and he is now rated 140. Next time out at Doncaster at the end of December Fill The Power (OR130) finished 2nd to another improving chaser Handtheprizeover (OR108) who had won his previous two starts albeit the first was 12 months earlier. Handtheprizeover then went to Kempton in January (OR116) and was pulled up with his trainer reporting that he was visiting the well too quickly but that he should keep on improving and win again.
Fill The Power is entered for the Grade 2 Novice Chase at Wetherby on Saturday and is 100/1 for the Royal Sun Alliance at the festival although both look a step too far.

Looking back at Katenko's race over 2m 5f it was run in a time 4 seconds slower than that of the preceeding Novices Handicap Chase won by Gary Moore's 8yo Vino Griego by 19 lengths from Renard D'Irlande on his eighteenth attempt. Interestingly Vino Griego was 19lb lower in the handicap and will head back to the festival for his third attempt at winning there and maybe his new training and race tactics will pay off there also, although the handicapper has upped him 10lbs to and OR of 138.

Our Mick was another to show up for a long way with Katenko before jumping left into that rival and unseating his jockey. His trainer McCain said the following pre race "It's a very competitive race for him to be running in first time back but these are the sort of events he has to run in and he seems to be in great form at home. I am sure that the run will bring him on and he's going to be better back over 3m but he's got plenty of form at this trip and the track is no problem. There's no big plan for him down the line at this stage - it's just a case of getting this under his belt and seeing how he comes out of it". I am sure he will be heading back to Cheltenham after this promising run.