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  1. #21
    Willie Mullins has 5 Ricci horses inside the cut off...worse than figuring out JP's runners

  2. #22
    Senior Member Lester's Avatar
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    Apr 2012

    At this stage Stocktons Wing looks my likely ride in the Fred Winter

  3. #23
    Following the release of the Festival handicap weights, Tony McFadden looks ahead to the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle...

    With 24 inexperienced juveniles charging around the Cheltenham undulations, the Fred Winter Handicap Hurdle may not be everyone's idea of a good betting medium. However, when you consider the following race is the bumper, an even less attractive proposition unless you find a way to perm the 10 horses you have been assured are 'good things', salvaging the second day's losses suddenly rests on finding the winner of the fiendishly-difficult four-year-old affair!

    Paul Nicholls and Ruby Walsh successfully combined to win the race in 2010 with Sanctuaire and they could be represented by a horse with a similar profile in recent Ludlow scorer Ptit Zig. Imported from France, Ptit Zig has only been given the one run by Nicholls, winning a low-key, all-aged novice hurdle at Ludlow. He has been awarded a lenient-looking mark of 130 following that decisive success, a figure that could significantly underestimate his ability. The form has subsequently taken a knock as the second-placed New Year's Eve disappointed badly at Doncaster, though it is worth noting John Ferguson's horse reportedly bled on that occasion, so it may not be a good idea to be too pessimistic about the merit of Ptit Zig's win.

    Saphir du Rheu, who is also a Nicholls-trained French import, was slightly underwhelming on his British debut at Newbury, failing to meet market expectations in finishing a well-beaten third. However, he stepped up appreciably on that form at Taunton, always travelling well and quickening up to score decisively. He gives the impression that he is capable of a lot better, and it would be significant if Walsh elected to ride him over his promising stablemate, but, at this moment, Ptit Zig looks to hold marginally the stronger claims of the pair.

    Venetia Williams hasn't enjoyed too much success at the Festival, operating at a strike rate of just 3% during the past decade, but she has been in sensational form this season, a potent force in handicaps in particular, and appears to have a nice prospect in Zamdy Man. The fact Zamdy Man was thrown into Grade 1 company on his first start over timber says plenty about the regard in which he is held, and he went on to produce an improved effort at Huntingdon, travelling like a good horse for a long way. It was perhaps slightly disappointing that he couldn't justify strong support at Haydock on his latest start, but he was possibly still feeling the effects of the Huntingdon run, sweating up markedly in the preliminaries, so my inclination would be to forgive that run and concentrate on the conspicuous promise of his earlier efforts.

    Another horse currently trading at a big price that looks capable of better is the Kim Bailey-trained Milord, a useful Flat performer in Germany that has shown steady improvement over hurdles, progressing with each run. His latest effort at Newbury was particularly promising, possibly flattered to finish so close to Chatterbox and Lac Fontana given the sedate gallop, but it was a good performance nevertheless. He looks especially interesting granted better ground and a strong gallop to chase and it could be a mistake to dismiss him.

    As you would expect for a race of this nature, there are a number of horses that boast strong Flat form, and a couple possibly worth considering are Totalize and Bordoni. The former was very much unexposed on the Flat, having had only the four starts, and he has taken well to hurdling, not needing to improve on a highly-encouraging initial effort to score on his two most recent outings. His latest success at Kelso was particularly impressive, overcoming a positional bias to win with more in hand than the winning margin would suggest, and he would appear fairly treated with the promise of more to come. John Ferguson's Bordoni is evidently a horse that possesses plenty of ability, jumping well and travelling with real enthusiasm when scoring by a wide margin at Market Rasen, though it is a slight concern he ran out on his penultimate start with victory in sight at Ludlow.

    Looking at the Irish angle, Willie Mullins unsurprisingly dominates the entries, responsible for six of the possible contenders; interestingly, these include two French imports that are unraced in Britain or Ireland in the shape of Kalmann and Viconte du Noyer. The phrase 'the market may offer the best guide' is an over-used term in racing, but there is little else you can really say about these completely unexposed recruits, and, given Mullins' exceptional record at improving horses, they would merit serious consideration were they the subject of market support.

    To summarise, Paul Nicholls looks to hold a strong hand with a pair of French imports in Ptit Zig and Saphir du Rheu, the former granted slight preference based on a taking British debut success at Ludlow. This is a highly competitive renewal, however, and, at a price, we will also take a chance on the strong-travelling Zamdy Man relishing the fast tempo and getting back on the right track following a slightly 'flat' effort last time. Milord and Totalize are others that make significant appeal in a very open contest.

    Back Ptit Zig @ 10.0
    Back Zamdy Man @ 38.0

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    Last edited by Old Vic; 2nd March 2013 at 11:45 AM.

  4. #24
    Senior Member Lester's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    A few thoughts on runners and riders ...

  5. #25
    Stable Fat Jockey (Moderator) Old Vic's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    I’m very optimistic about the chance of MEGALYPOS in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap Hurdle (4.40). I was elsewhere when he ran in the Finale Hurdle at Chepstow after Christmas and would have gone close to winning that but for getting hampered at the last.

    He’s had his wind done since and there’s no question it has had a very positive effect on him. He’s a lovely big horse that pleased me when I schooled him recently, jumped really well, and will handle the conditions fine.

    I see him as a big chance in a tricky race.

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