HOLD YOUR HORSES: BACK 17.0 SHOT INSTEAD: Hold your ante-post bets on Douvan. He’s now out of everything this weekend, says Willie Mullins. Meanwhile small yards teaching the big boys a lesson have 17.0 and 5.1 shots on BETDAQ that intrigue Daqman today. They are Richard Woollacott and Ben Pauling.
NO WEEKEND RETURN FOR DOUVAN
Everything comes in threes. After disappointing starts for Yanworth and Thistlecrack, now another ‘unbeatable’ star, Douvan remains under a cloud.
Favourite for Saturday’s Tingle Creek Chase at Sandown until pulled out yesterday, 2-9 Champion Chase flop Douvan will not be seen at least until Christmas.
Douvan sustained a stress fracture at Cheltenham during the Champion Chase and has been in and out at home in his comeback preparation this autumn-winter, seemingly back on song but then not pleasing trainer Willie Mullins in the next gallop.
His Tingle Creek departure was thought to be for a switch to the John Durkan (Punchestown) or the Hilly Way (Cork), both on Sunday, but he’s been ruled out of the entire weekend’s racing.
Djakadam is likely to be ‘deputy Douvan’ at Punchestown, with Un De Sceaux fronting for the stable at Cork.
YOU CAN BET BLIND ON HENDERSON
2.30 Sandown Alan King has won this four times since 2008, a 50% strike rate, and his absence today underlines a lack of top novice hurdlers in the yard, certainly at today’s 2m 4f.
Nicky Henderson (On The Blind Side) never seems to be short of them. This one is unbeaten over hurdles, bought for £205,000 after winning a Point in Tipperary, though the buyer might not have been so keen had he known the subsequent moderate form of the beaten horses.
But On the Blind Side (around 2-1 this morning) has since scored at England’ most prestigious tracks, Aintree and Cheltenham, where he beat a hat-trick winner and a Grade-2 novice. We can only judge a juvenile on what he beats but collateral form is not foolproof.
White Moon has also continued a sequence started in a Point, though only at his local tracks (Exeter and Wincanton) where has beaten just class 4 and 5 winners.
Red River also beat nothing well but he is unexposed and his yard is in fine form. First-time tongue-tie (already worn by White Horse) may create a leap forward.
BEN’S BALLY GOOD TRAINING FEAT
3.05 Sandown Because of his age, blinkers first time for Workbench (after a try in cheekpieces) suggests another meaning, particularly when added to a tongue-tie.
He’s well exposed at nine years old and the Skeltons are trying to squeeze the pips out of him, 3.2 in the BETDAQ orange, after 49 starts and 1-10 this year.
I can’t have him myself. Nor can I fancy Beggar’s Wishes who has to step out of lower-grade handicaps after an overall hike in the weights (30lb improvement says the handicapper but yet to step out of class-4).
Compare that, though, with the likes of Red Devil Star, reckoned not to have improved one iota, running off the same mark today as he was set 13 races ago in March, 2016.
I fancy 5.1 BETDAQ offer Bally Gilbert could improve, not least because the Ben Pauling outfit has a tremendous recent record, aiming at the better prizemoney at the top tracks.
The yard has won at Ascot (twice), Newbury (twice) and Haydock among six hits altogether in the last two weeks. That’s brilliant placing and stable confidence.
Bally Gilbert led for 13 fences here at Sandown on the last day (2m 4f) and drops back in trip now, reunited with Nico de Boinville, potentially able to hug the rail and try to get away from this moderate lot, with first-time tongue-tie to help him full his lungs.
17.0 BETDAQ OFFER HAS THE STAMINA
3.15 Exeter Not one winning favourite in the decade; not a one. And the morning jolly, You Say What, has been thumped 10lb by the handicapper for scoring over 3m.
He doesn’t have to carry all of that today but an interim 7lb penalty is bad enough, and I can’t see that sneaking under the radar for the sake of 3lb is viable.
Tom Scudamore points out that he’s won 7lb higher than this in the past, but there’s nothing in his pedigree to suggest stepping him up to 3m 6f is any other than a bid to beat the overall weight rise, and check him out for stamina. However, David Pipe is on three wins out of four, all chases.
Compare that with ‘Shark’ Hanlon’s poor record when raiding these shores: only one minnow in the net (1-21) this season, with Rare Legend 0-6 in chases, and the stable mainly missing strike, with current figures of 213202.
I shall take a chance on Jepeck, who was 15-8 favourite here three weeks ago when a blunder cost him all chance.
Jepeck is with Richard Woollacott, whose Beer Goggles won the Ladbrokes Long Distance Hurdle at 40-1 at the weekend, beating Thistlecrack and Unowhatimeanharry.
Ten-time Points winner, Jepeck was third in a four-mile hunter-chase at Cheltenham in the Spring
Jepeck (17.0 offers on BETDAQ as I write) and Yanmare (5.8) are the only ones you can be hopeful of, stamina wise. Yanmare is with a trainer of marathon winners, and may have won here at Exeter on his reappearance but for falling two out.
SUPERNAP (win 40): BET 20pts win ON THE BLIND SIDE (2.30 Sandown)
BET 5pts win (to win 20) BALLY GILBERT (3.05 Sandown)
BETS (each to win 20) 4pts win YANMARE, and 1.25pts win and place JEPECK (3.15 Exeter)
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