A very nice win for us today with Wakanda, and despite the issues we had getting the email out last night I hope all of you got the 9/1 available before his price got completely smashed into 11/4 fav.
We have fantastic racing tomorrow with good jump meetings at Ascot, Down Royal and Wetherby, and the second day of the Breeders Cup from Kentucky to boot!
We have a busy day with four selections and hopefully we will come out of the day with multiple winners!
The Cleeve team
14.00 Wetherby - bet365 West Yorkshire Hurdle (Grade 2) (CLASS 1) (4yo+)
There are a couple of decent chasers in Splash of Ginge and The Druids Nephew making their seasonal bows here over hurdles, but I cannot fancy either. Horses dropping back to hurdles tend to balloon over them losing vital seconds in the air. Grumeti is likely to be a fairly warm order having won the Cesarewitch on the flat, but I have never been convinced about him as a hurdler as he is a bit hesitant and that leads to errors.
Rock on Ruby has to prove himself at this distance, but I expect him to cruise round and have too much class for this field and to win pretty comfortably.
14.15 Ascot - Byrne Group Handicap Chase (Listed Race) (CLASS 1) (4yo+ 0-150)
The main challengers to our selection are likely to be Bellenos and Baby Mix; however I expect both to come up short. Baby Mix has not won for two years and has been second in his last three races when having chances to go on and win so may be turning into a bit of a thinker. Saying that Gavin Sheehan’s choice to take him wide all the way round at Market Rasen (where he was a selection for us) cost him many more lengths than he was beaten by.
Bellenos should be fit and comes from a stable in form but I believe he is just a bit below this level Sgt Reckless representing Mick Channon is likely to start favourite, but his chase wins are at a lower level and his jumping may struggle if this race is run at a true pace.
Ulck du Lin won this last year with Sean Bowen claiming seven pounds and this year is partnered by Harry Cobden; again claiming seven pounds. Ulck du Lin goes well fresh and can win this race again under similar conditions
15.05 Wetherby - bet365 Charlie Hall Chase (Grade 2) (CLASS 1) (5yo+)
This is a top class renewal of the Charlie Hall and it is likely to be a tactical race with Cue Card, Dynaste and Menorah all trying to lead.
I do think the winner will come from one of these three, but Menorah who won this last season is now ten and may struggle to go the pace here. Dynaste was run on very soft ground in France three weeks ago (in poor judgement in my view) and he could have left his best there, especially as he is pretty fragile.
Cue Card on a flat course is very, very hard to beat and the ground looks to be perfect for him. Colin Tizzard may have left a little to work on with the Betfair Chase in mind (our antepost selection for this comes out on Tuesday), but if he is anywhere near race fit I expect him to win this comfortably. His jumping is generally wonderful and has only suffered when he has to race further than three miles so should be ok here.
15.25 Ascot - Sodexo Gold Cup Handicap Chase (Grade 3) (CLASS 1) (4yo+)
This should prove to be a key race for this season with a good range of experienced and improving animals on show.
Virak could prove to be another star for Paul Nicholls but has to improve to win this. He has plenty of scope at the age of six but his wins have generally been with more cut in the ground than this. Le Reve is another I expect to challenge but he has shown his best form at Sandown and this may be a bit sharp for him. Fox Appeal represents the best of the rest.
Houblon des Obeaux runs well at Ascot and is back on a more reasonable mark than he had for most of last season. He finished second to both Coneygree and Many Clouds which shows what a class horse he is. I find it hard to believe he won’t place at least tomorrow and top weight should not be a problem. The only concern is that Venetia has not had many runners yet so we’re not 100% where the stable is, but Houblon has won first time out three times so has already proved that he can strip fit for this seasonal debut..