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Angus McNae

Captain's Blog - Friday 28th December

The William Hill Winter Festival was dominated by the Nicholls and Henderson teams and their domination of the sport is becoming even more evident as we move from one big meeting to another.

Seven of the thirteen races were won by one of those two yards and the figure was the same in 2011.

I do not have a problem with this, but those that feel that the the Dubai International Carnival is not competitive because it is dominated by Godolphin and Mike De Kock would do well to look at our own National Hunt sport first.

I wonder just how many races they will win at the Cheltenham Festival this year? The figure would be much bigger without the Irish competition. Last year they had nine winners between them at the Festival and I would not be at all surprised if they surpassed that figure this year. 

As for the action over the two days here are some thoughts for you to chew on.

1. Long Run ran his usual solid race to win the King George. He has been rated too highly in the past, but is a top-notch stayer who won despite giving away ground throughout the race and making jumping errors. A top effort.

2. The King George VI Chase though was a race of non-stayers in the conditions. Grands Crus, Champion Court, Cue Card, Riverside Theatre all failed to stay. This should not detract from what Long Run did, but it is worth noting.

3. The Christmas Hurdle was run at a crawl and turned into a sprint up the straight. Darlan was impressive though and is a live contender for the Champion Hurdle. Surely he is too short in the market given the nature of this race, though. A couple shaped well in behind. Dodging Bullets was effectively held up last in a steadily run race so did really well to be third and Countrywide Flame needs a better gallop.

4. Over a trip of two miles the novice hurdler River Maigue ran a time of 4m 7.6s. Over the same trip on the same day Darlan ran a time of 4m 15.8. This comparison serves to show that the Christmas Hurdle was a farce, and also that River Maigue is very smart and wherever he goes at Cheltenham he needs serious consideration.

Have a good day.


Today's Selection:

1.50 Catterick: Las Verglas Star (7/2 bet365)



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