SAFE VOYAGE 28/1 generally – 0.5 POINTS E/W (6 places, 7 places Sky Bet)
MONTASSIB 14/1 generally – 0.5 POINTS E/W (6 places, 7 places Sky Bet)
We have 2 selections in this race.
A bit of a minefield with 22 runners and the ground is soft, probably bordering on heavy ground with today’s rain.
I am happy to play 2 horses at a price in this race and I will start with SAFE VOYAGE who is an absolutely huge price in conditions he is going to love. If you are a trends man then he goes against all the trends of the race with him being a 10 year old. Having said that SAFE VOYAGE is the only 10 year old to run in the race over the last 10 years, it may be the first ever 10 year old but I have only gone back 10 years. I have also looked at 8 and 9 year olds in the race and there are only a handful of horses but the majority have run well and into the places, without winning. Anyway I am not a trends person and I believe records are there to be broken but I still do my homework nevertheless.
SAFE VOYAGE is a horse who quite clearly has his best days behind him but at the start of last season ran in this race when rated 108. He came home 10th of 22, beaten 4 lengths on good to soft ground. He lines up this season rated 99 by the handicapper which is 9lb lower than last season and this time around he has his beloved soft or heavy ground.
If we go back to last season, SAFE VOYAGE was sent to Leopardstown in September, on soft ground and was heavily backed. He flew home to come home 2nd and it shows just how good the horse is when ground is in his favour. His final start of last season was at Ascot where he came home 4th of 20 in the Balmoral Handicap, off a mark of 100, and you could see he was unlucky with traffic problems.
Given he is now a 10 year old, I can’t see them having a long term plan where they will look to get him handicapped and for that reason I can see him being 100% primed for this race.
I am expecting him to finish with a wet sail and whether he bumps into a couple with younger legs, we will have to wait and see but I can certainly see him filling the places at the very least. E/W.
MONTASSIB is a 5 year old who has only had 8 career starts. We followed him last season and he ran so many good races in defeat. For me he didn’t run a bad race and his best form came in big handicap races at Ascot and Newmarket, off a handicap mark of 97. A season on MONTASSIB would have matured over the winter months and I am sure William Haggas has got more improvement out of the horse. He lines up rated 98 by the handicapper and he could still well be ahead of the handicapper as he was an unlucky loser on his final start of last season, when 2nd to another of today’s runners in Wanees, beaten 3/4 of a length. MONTASSIB is 7lb better off at the weights with Wanees today so I can certainly see that form being turned around. A first time tongue tie is fitted and I can certainly see that helping him improve a few pounds and it is certainly not put on for nothing. The one slight concern I have is the ground but he did win on soft ground last year and his 2nd on his final start was on good to soft ground.
With 6 places on offer I think he makes the frame at the very worst but I wouldn’t at all be surprised to see him win and with young Cieren Fallon on board, he is a jockey who is strong in a finish. E/W.