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Hunter Chases - 4.55 Newton Abbot & 8.35 Perth

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I am going to start at Perth because to me that race is simple. Mr Mercurial should be about 1/2 for this contest. On form he has loads in hand over this lot with the only real concern is his jockey timing it right, but I find it hard to see how he will throw it away against this lot. This race is weaker than the one he won over course and distance last month and he looks a good thing. Black River is close to him in the betting, but his even though he has lots of 1s and 2s in his form this season it isn't anywhere near as strong as Mr Mercurial's. He beat Snow Castle last time and that one was 2nd at Hexham in the Heart Of All England which wasn't a strong race. He was beaten a head by Dark Mahler and we saw at Southwell on Tuesday that he isn't up to the sort of standard Mr Mercurial can run to. The beating of Ravished in February does look good as that has run well in 2 Hunter Chases since, but he has improved a lot since that run so again I don't think it is strong form. 

Killer Crow seems to be going backwards and even so his form isn't good enough to win. Greyed A didn't run too badly on his first start for new connections on Bank Holiday Monday when 3rd at Witton Castle. His rules form prior to that was useful in the context of this race if you take out the fav although I just wonder if he might prefer softer ground. The other two are hard to fancy at all. 

It all points towards Mr Mercurial winning another Hunter Chase here. Black River should be good enough to follow him home and Greyed A could well be best of the rest.

Mr Mercurial 4pts @ 5/6 with Bet365 and William Hill

The Newton Abbot race is a bit trickier. Dineur would have to really bounce back to form to play a part and it is hard to see happening based on what he has done so far this season. Im All Set shouldn't be good enough and the outsider wouldn't win if he started now!

Herbert Park is an even trickier ride than Mr Mercurial as he showed at Exeter last month. He beat Saffron Wells last time back in a point which is a useful enough effort. Ultimately he probably needs the front two in the market to disappoint to beat them, but on a line through Master Baker he is closely matched with Southfield Vic. Having said that though he disappointed at Fontwell on quick ground after that and surely the ground will be riding on the fast side of good which would be a concern for me. It seems some people are taking a chance on him as he is blue on Oddschecker as I write this, but I am happy to pass over him.

Road To Riches would win this if he repeated his 3rd at Aintree which was a superb effort. The problem is he went to Fairyhouse and was a massive disappointment and pulled up. Even though that was a better race than this one if he put in the same sort of effort he certainly won't be winning this. I also wonder if he needs softer ground nowadays. His market rival Southfield Vic made hard work of winning at Wincanton although he wasn't entirely helped by the fact he was hampered by Woodfleet and nearly came to grief. In the end he was a fairly comfortable winner and the Newbury run when just beaten by Master Baker was good. 

I think this is a hard race. Road To Riches might win, but there seems enough doubts to take him on. I can see why people are taking a chance with Herbert Park, but he doesn't make things easy for himself and I wonder if he might need softer ground as well. Southfield Vic is a course and distance winner who has no ground concerns so that tips the balance in his favour for me.

Southfield Vic 1pt @ 6/4 with Bet365 and BetVictor


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If I had known Ballotin was going to go off 11/10 I certainly wouldn't have worried about looking for a forecast in the race. It was a crazy price as he should have been at least the 4/7 he was the night before and given the way he won even that would have been value. He never looked in any danger and he clearly still has a high level of ability. Not sure there is too much left for him this season now. Shimla Dawn jumped to his right and as Ballotin was going the better he took up the running much earlier than I thought he would and it meant Shimla Dawn downed tools and had no chance of finishing 2nd after that. At the right level if he can get an easy lead then he will win again. Dark Mahler was really well backed, but he wasn't in the same league as the winner. It is hard to think he achieved a great deal really. I think Martha's Benefit is getting fit for a summer handicap campaign as well as running to get her handicap mark down. She should dip below 100 after this and I suggest keeping a close eye on her over the summer.

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