A PLUS TARD 4/1 generally – 1.25 POINTS WIN
This race might as well be called the JPW Bowl Chase as it has all my favourite horses running in one race. A Plus Tard, Bravemansgame, Shishkin and then Ga Law who won us £308k on the Scoop 6 Bonus Race in November. That half the field who I have a real soft spot for, and so many are pulling on my heartstrings.
That means it is time to think with my brain in a professional manner and ignore any soft spots, whatsoever.
Let’s start with Bravemansgame who was 2nd in the Cheltenham Gold Cup. It was a cracking effort to come home 2nd but he had a very hard race and you have got to think that it may have taken its toll. To come to this race less than a month after coming 2nd in the Gold Cup, is tough going. He also flopped here for the last 2 years and as Paul Nicholls has referenced so many times this season, he is best when fresh. He is clearly a very classy horse to be able to go with Galopin Des Champs all the way to the last fence, but just maybe Galopin Des Champs has broken his heart.
I have said for many years that Shishkin wants 3 miles plus and I was rooting for him to go to the Cheltenham Gold Cup instead of the Ryanair Chase. Looking back at that race, I was probably right as everything seemed to be happening a bit quickly for him which resulted in him making quite a few mistakes. Credit where it is due, to make those mistakes and still come home 2nd, flying up the hill, tells you the weapon of a horse that he is. Even though I wanted to see him run over 3 miles, like Bravemansgame, I feel he had a very hard race in the Ryanair Chase and once again I wonder how much that has taken out of him. You could even go back to Ascot in February, which means this is his 3rd race in 7 weeks.
Conflated also ran in the Gold Cup and came home 3rd, but just like the above 2 horses, he would have had a very hard race.
While Ahoy Senor had a nasty fall in the Gold Cup and I just wonder if he is over that fall, 3 weeks on.
My brain is telling me everything points to A PLUS TARD who although officially pulled up in the Gold Cup, he had his excuses. He was travelling very well at the back of the field, just slowly creeping into the race, when Ahoy Senor fell 6 fences out and hampered A PLUS TARD quite badly. Unfortunately when something like that happens in a Gold Cup, it is very hard to recover and Rachael Blackmore did the right thing in pulling up four fences from home. It means he only ran 2m 5f and didn’t have a hard race. Given that was his first race since November, in the Betfair Chase, I am of the opinion that being pulled up 4 fences from home, in the Gold Cup, would have put him spot on for this race.
This is a small field and given we have Ahoy Senor and Bravemansgame in the race, who will no doubt make the running, he can sit ust off the leaders and get a lovely toe into the race. When the others are feeling the effects of the Cheltenham Festival, Rachael Blackmore will hopefully be sitting pretty and when she presses the button, off he will go into the lead.
I am quietly confident A PLUS TARD can go close here and if the rain stays away and the ground is good to soft, it will be perfect racing ground for him. WIN.
**Since writing this Bravemansgame has become a non runner**
WINGED LEADER 7/2 generally – 1 POINT WIN
I have gone through this race over and over again trying to find something to beat WINGED LEADER and something of a bit value. Sometimes you just have to admit defeat as I can’t find an alternative to WINGED LEADER and bar a fall or a big mistake, I can’t see him losing this race. This race is over the National fences but given he likes to lead we know he will pretty much have a clear passage throughout with the only thing getting in his way, will be the fences. That means he kind of only has himself to beat and will not have to worry about any fallers.
I like the fact that this race has been the plan all season. They purposely missed the Cheltenham Festival in favour of this race which means he has not had a hard race and will come into the race absolutely spot on.
WINGED LEADER is a top class horse in this sphere, he was 2nd to Billaway in the 2022 Foxhunters at the Cheltenham Festival and only the last furlong was where he struggled.
He is an excellent jumper and this drop in trip to 2m 5f over the big National fences are really going to suit.
I expect his class to tell and I would not at all be surprised if he won this race by a distance.
Of the others Famous Clermont has the ability to go well but he was out on his feet at the Cheltenham Festival when going up the hill. I wonder how much that race took out of him. WIN.