Ben Linfoot presents the second edition of 'Weighed In' featuring eyecatchers from Aintree and Wincanton, analysis on the Badger Ales Trophy and all the major BHA ratings amendments.
Aintree and Wincanton served up some interesting autumnal jumps action on Saturday with Present Man starring once again in the Badger Ales Trophy at the latter track.
That race comes under the spotlight this week as we look for future clues, while there were several horses to consider adding to your ‘My Stable’ trackers on both the Wincanton undercard and at Liverpool.
Plenty of rain fell around the country as Friday turned into Saturday, but conditions at Wincanton were Good while the ground at Aintree was only slightly easier (officially Good, Good to Soft in places).
My Stable Eyecatchers
SMAOINEAMH ALAINN >>>> Down 4lb to 131
You might not be able to say her name or even read it (try Smeenah All-in) but the Robert Walford-trained mare that finished a 25-length fifth in the Unibet Elite Hurdle at Wincanton is worth keeping an eye on.
Run as a Grade Two instead of a handicap for the first time this year, Smaoineamh Alainn undoubtedly suffered for the switch as she would’ve got more weight from her rivals if it had been run in its usual guise as a limited handicap.
However, connections have gone on record as saying they wanted to try and gain some black type with this six-year-old mare and with half a mile to go they’ll have thought she had a chance as she kept tabs on the leading trio.
She weakened late on and was well beaten in the end, but she showed plenty enough encouragement to be of interest at a lesser level and especially so now the handicapper has dropped her 4lb to a mark of 131.
That’s a rating just 2lb higher than when she won a handicap hurdle at Cheltenham’s December meeting last year and it’s well worth noting that win was further evidence that she goes really well on soft ground.
There are loads of options for mares like Smaoineamh Alainn now, but that same race at Cheltenham could well be on the radar given she could now get the chance to tackle the same test off a similar rating.
WARRIORS TALE >>>> Down 2lb to 147
Two and a half miles around Aintree on ground with only a little bit of ease in it was never going to play to Warriors Tale’s strengths, so he shaped encouragingly with a staying-on fourth in the Rewards4Racing Handicap Chase on Saturday.
Won by Philip Hobbs’ War Sound, who has gone up 10lb, Warriors Tale was a long way away from troubling him at the weekend, but for a horse that needs at least another half mile this looked a lovely pipe opener for the season ahead.
Ridden prominently by Sean Bowen, Warriors Tale soon lost his pitch and with just less than a mile to go he was ridden along in seventh with seemingly little hope of improving upon that position.
There was an element of a few of those in front of him tiring, but still, he deserves plenty of credit for sticking on into fourth in the closing stages and the subsequent 2lb drop to 147 gives him a chance on his best form when granted a sterner test.
Indeed, last season he was beaten a head over three miles in soft ground in the Sky Bet Chase at Doncaster in January (off a mark of 147), and while Paul Nicholls has stated before that he’s a better horse on good ground, he’s clearly versatile on that score but does want an emphasis on stamina.
There are options aplenty for this type of horse in the coming weeks and months, but given he ran in the Grand National, and considering his owner is Trevor Hemmings, a crack at the Becher Chase over the big fences back at this track in December could be his calling.
Others to note from the weekend
Vision Des Flos >>>> Up 2lb to 150
If The Cap Fits >>>> Up 3lb to 150
The Organist >>>> Remains on 139
Tommy Silver >>>> Down 2lb to 133
A few others didn’t quite make the tracker but are on the radar nonetheless.
It will be interesting to see what route Colin Tizzard goes with Vision Des Flos. An unseat on his fencing debut at Ffos Las saw him revert to hurdling on Saturday and he ran well, splitting the 158-rated Wholestone and 159-rated Unowhatimeanharry.
Up to 150, he could be ideal for something like the Lanzarote if he stays over hurdles and his sights are lowered.
Talking of top horses running in handicaps, Harry Fry’s If The Cap Fits would fit that bill. He made a really nice reappearance in the Elite Hurdle when second to Verdana Blue and, up 3lb to 150, he could well be aimed at the Racing Welfare Handicap Hurdle at Ascot, a race his trainer has won before.
The Organist qualified for the Pertemps Final when running second to the thrown-in Abolitionist in the qualifier at Aintree. She stays on 139, stays three miles well and looks likely to be aimed at the Pertemps Final itself following a good fifth in the Coral Cup last season.
Finally Tommy Silver is down 2lb to 133 and I thought he was worth a mention after jumping so well at Aintree. He found disappointingly little, as usual, but he’s become very well-handicapped now and the usual tongue-tie was left off on Saturday. There might be an angle with him in a weaker race if it reappears.
Big-Race Analysis: Badger Ales Trophy
It was a case of same again in the Badger Ales Trophy with Paul Nicholls winning his ninth renewal of the race and Mr Badger Ales himself, Mark Woodhouse, winning ‘his’ race for the second year running with PRESENT MAN, again under Bryony Frost.
Like last year, he just about made all, taking a lead from On Demand at one point before taking over again with three to jump where a trio of fluent leaps sealed matters from Sumkindofking, who ran well in second.
The pair of them had the contest between themselves in the closing stages but you felt it would take a mistake from the winner to let in the runner-up and it wasn’t forthcoming, a 7lb rise fully deserved although a mark in the 150s now asks new questions of him.
Sumkindofking is up 4lb to 135 following a career-best effort and he travelled and jumped well without quite having the guns to get to the leader. He’s gone some way to proving his stamina on his last two runs and looks one to bear in mind for handicaps in the spring, as he liked this ground and I’m not sure he’d want it any softer.
Fingerontheswitch stays on 122 and is taking advantage of the ground staying as dry as it is for as long as it has, and you can apply an identical comment to Aunty Ann (also stays on her mark of 128).
The one to take out of the race is Ramses De Teillee. David Pipe’s charge was having his first run since wind surgery but he shaped well despite a couple of jumping errors and wasn’t beaten far in fifth in the end.
He’s a much better horse on a softer surface and has been dropped a pound to 140. Every little helps and he’s on the radar for any soft-ground handicap in the coming weeks.
Principal BHA Ratings alterations from the weekend November 10-11
- Abolitionist >>>> Up 13lb to 134
- Bags Groove >>>> Up 6lb to 151
- Buster Thomas >>>> Up 2lb to 122
- Capeland >>>> Up 3lb to 130
- If You Say Run >>>> Up 9lb to 140
- If The Cap Fits >>>> Up 3lb to 150
- Kalashnikov >>>> Introduced at 152
- King’s Odyssey >>>> Up 2lb to 141
- Litterale Ci >>>> Up 2lb to 140
- Present Man >>>> Up 7lb to 151
- Romain De Senam >>>> Down 1lb to 137
- Secret Investor >>>> Introduced at 143
- Sumkindofking >>>> Up 4lb to 135
- The Organist >>>> Remains on 139
- Verdana Blue >>>> Up 5lb to 151
- Vision Des Flos >>>> Up 2lb to 150
- War Sound >>>> Up 10lb to 146
- Warriors Tale >>>> Down 2lb to 147
- Wholestone >>>> Remains on 158
- Yorkist >>>> Up 6lb to 136
The 'Weighed In' My Stable
- Born Survivor (added 6/11/2018)
- Go Conquer (added 6/11/2018)
- Larry (added 6/11/2018)
- Smaoineamh Alainn (added 13/11/2018)
- Warriors Tale (added 13/11/2018)
Previous 'Weighed In' columns
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