I’m hoping to go out with a bang with Milansbar
Thistlecrack – what can you say? The 21,000 or so at Kempton on Monday, me included, were treated not to a race but a display that amounted to a double lap of honour!
Over 40 years I’ve been going to Kempton on Boxing Day, I’ve been lucky enough to witness Dessie’s quartet and the legendary Kauto Star’s five and many greats sprinkled throughout, but never have I ever seen anything like that.
Thistlecrack possess an engine that we are very unlikely to witness in full capacity. Having kept the other four runners company for at least a circuit, the novice pulled his way to the front and then just galloped relentlessly towards the line. It must be remembered that it was only his fourth start over fences.
His jumping was breathtaking, stuff for analysts to fantasise over. If ever there was a manual to be printed about how to win a King George then Thistlecrack just provided the content.
Irish challengers were conspicuous by their absence - they are not silly. Do you think they knew the potential talent and thought best and preferred to wait until Cheltenham in March? Just who can beat him now? He is 5-4 generally, and given he is odds-on in places, which seems more realistic, it also seems big! Coneygree, Djakadam, Cue Card, Don Cossack, and Valseur Lido are his only rivals priced at under 20-1 in the Timico Cheltenham Gold Cup.
Near the start of the season in this blog I hinted that Colin Tizzard should be backed in the top trainer market at 33-1. He quickly shortened in to 20-1 that week.
After continued success, and the general realization that his stable is full of stars who can claim big prize funds, he is now only 5-1!
Tuesday is Chepstow, but not as we know it, as the ground is good to soft, where normally we expect the extreme of heavy on Coral Welsh Grand National day. Mudlarks such as Houblon Des Obeaux, Firebird Flyer, Bishops Road and dual winner Mountainous will feel like they’re running on firm!
Native River has top weight to contend with, but given the form Team Tizzard is enjoying at the moment weight seems almost immaterial.
The Hennessy Gold Cup winner can jump out in front and it would be no surprise to see that is where he stays. Milansbar also likes to be ridden prominently. He just failed to carry top weight in the Midlands Grand National, having conceded 7lb and given an eight-length beating to Three Faces West in February.
In early December he had a decent run out in fourth at Chepstow, which should put him spot on for this massive task and in some respects I believe his price is an insult, as hopefully he can find his way into the frame at least. I’ve only given him a cautious each-way pick, as Native River could be in a different league and readying himself to assist Colin Tizzard achieving a 1-2-3 in the Gold Cup.
My work is now done on Channel 4 and as a weekly columnist on this website. I’ll leave you with a line from a recent film I watched: “Wherever life takes you, there’s always a place where your heart remains”. I bid you farewell and all the best for 2017 and beyond.
Tanya Stevenson's Tuesday tip:
Tanya Stevenson's Tuesday pointers:
12.40 Kempton - 32Red Casino Introductory Juvenile Hurdle:
Paul Nicholls has won the race four times from his last seven runners
Six of the last seven favourites have won
1.45 Kempton - 32Red.com Wayward Lad Novices' Chase:
Since 2005 no winner has been older than six
From his last nine runners Nicky Henderson has won the race four times - Altior
(Under all the race’s different guises and distances Nicky Henderson has been successful eight times since 1988)
Eight of the last ten winners came from the first two in the betting
Eight of the last nine winners have gone on to run in the Arkle both Sprinter Sacre and Simonsig were victorious
The last six winners won on their most recent run
Altior has won both his races at Kempton
2.20 Kempton - 32Red Desert Orchid Chase:
Four of the nine winners went on to win the Champion Chase Voy Por Ustedes, Finian’s Rainbow, Sire De Grugy and last year Sprinter Sacre
Five of the nine winners had run in the Tingle Creek in the previous race
Six of the nine favourites have won
In the nine runnings only one horse older than eight has won – Sprinter Sacre last year
2.40 Chepstow - Coral Welsh National:
Eight of the last 10 winners finished no worse than fourth on their most recent run
Since 1983 only three horses older than nine have won
Over the last 30 years only Bonanza Boy in 1988 & 1989 and Mountainous 2013 & 2015 have won the race twice
Carvill’s Hill was the last horse to carry top weight to victory in 1991
None of the last ten favourites have won
Since 1993 only four horses have carried 11stone or more to victory
Only three of the last ten winners had run more than twice prior in the current campaign
2.00 Chepstow - coral.co.uk Future Champions Finale Juvenile Hurdle:
Nine of the last ten winners finished no worse than second on their most recent run
Only three of the last ten favourites have won: Adrien Du Pont last year, Hollow Tree in 2011 & Franchoek 2007
Five of the last ten winners had run in at least a Grade Two Hurdle
Four of the last 10 winners were making their British Debut –2014, 2013, 2006, 2005
3.15 Chepstow - coral.co.uk Best Price Guaranteed On Horse Racing Handicap Chase:
Nine of the last ten winners were older than nine
Eight of the last ten winners came from the first three in the betting
Venetia Williams is attempting to win the race for a fourth time in five years