sadly Pym did not turn up for his race last Saturday. Nicky Henderson withdrew him at final declaration stage and has decided to wait for him to have a festival prep race. We shall see if that was the correct thing to do in missing a race that was winnable after the hot favourite Laurina flopped again as we expected might be the case.
Our selected race this week is a competitive handicap chase at Warwick. It does look like it could be used as a prep race for one of the handicap chases at the Cheltenham Festival... however, as a decent prize it is well worth winning in its own right.
Our selection is coming down the weights and will be suited by soft going and the distance of the race.
The team at Cleeve
8th February - 3.15 Warwick, Warwick Castle Handicap Chase (Class 2) (0-160 5YO+) 2M 4F Soft.
Belami Des Pictons has now run eight times over fences, winning three times and placing on one other occasion. He is a nine-year-old bay gelding trained by Venetia Williams. His sire is Khalkevi and his dam is Nina Des Pictons.
Granted his last win was back in February 2017, however he has dropped down the weights and his shrewd trainer has given him a break since Christmas to freshen him up after a couple of pipe-openers earlier in the season.
Belami Des Pictons will be suited by the forecast soft ground at Warwick, and his run behind Happy Diva in November was a good effort over this distance. On the face of it his run at Christmas was disappointing, he was sent off as the 2/1 favourite but struggled to get home over three miles. The Stewards enquired into his running but connections could offer no explanation and nothing was found by the course vet. He could have just had an off day and I’m prepared to put a line through it.
This is a competitive handicap chase. Gala Ball and Katpoli won last time out. Robinshill is lightly weighted but does struggle to win. Knockgraffin has had a pipe-opener and will come on for it for the in-form Olly Murphy stable. The Unit makes his seasonal debut here but Alan King will have left something to work on for next month. Northern Beau has won twice this season but may want further than two miles and four furlongs. Paul Nicholls is represented by Brelan D’As but he has not won for a while and looks overrated in the market.
This race is Belami Des Pictons only entry before the Cheltenham Festival and on soft ground, back in trip, it looks a target for horse and trainer. Charlie Deutsch takes the ride here. At 7/1 with three places to play for our selection looks good value each way.