CeeBee previews Saturday's horse racing with bets advised at both Aintree and the Badger Ales meeting at Wincanton, with Bob's Worth and Simonsig returning.
The Betfred Hurdle (14.30) will be the big talking point at Aintree.
The once brilliant now useless Bobs Worth returns. Over 2m4f on good ground around Aintree, seriously? He’ll be a long last.
Royal Boy last seen beating Josses Hill to a G1 also returns after 2yrs off. Now in the care of Rebecca Curtis (after being picked up for 8k!) she’ll be eager to prove she can get him back to the top level. At a guess he’ll be straight enough, but this is tough company after 2yrs off.
The biggest talking point however is the return of Simonsig after 970 days off. After so long laid-up with various niggles I’m expecting this fella to be a shadow of his former self. If he races as keenly as when we last saw him, which is quite possible, he’ll struggle to see this out, assuming he’s not nearly 100% fit. Nicky hasn’t managed to bring his other stars Sprinter Sacre or Bobs Worth back to a decent level after injury. At 13/8 Simonsig is creating this market.
Amazingly Purple Bay is rated higher than Simonsig ever was and Commissioned is rated only 4lbs behind Simonsig. I’d expect the Ferguson duo to fight this one out. Purple Bay went up 7lbs for winning the Elite Hurdle this day last year. It was a harsh rise as the race fell apart upfront and he stayed on strongly to win by a big false margin. Even his Kempton run last season was a little fortunate as Blue Heron went far too fast and Sign of a Victory was below bar. Purple Bay is no more than a mid-150s horse. Giving 4lbs to the 154 rated Commissioned, after a year off, won’t be easy.
Commissioned should have a fitness edge on all of these. His narrow 2nd off 151 at Perth in August was a very good run that has worked out well. A stayer on the flat, this step up in trip shouldn’t be a problem. The big issue is his last run at Market Rasen. After losing his place when squeezed out on a bend he seemed to sulk and spit the dummy out. Perhaps he was feeling something but it was so bad I’m happy to put a line through it. Wisely he was pulled up once his chance was gone. If putting his best foot forward he represents some value at more than twice the price of his stablemate.
2 points win Commissioned – 14.30 Aintree – 6/1 with Betfred and Betfair Sportsbook
Over at Wincanton a sub-standard Badger Ales (14.05) chase could be heading to Ditcheat for a 4th time in 8yrs. The 7/2 favourite The Ould Lad has plenty going for him. The move from Tom George’s to Nicholls being the obvious positive. I’d be very surprised if this didn’t bring about some improvement. His form tailed off after Christmas last season meaning the once 130 rated gelding now runs off 125. He has winning form at 3miles and on good to soft so ticks plenty of the boxes. However his price is plenty short enough for one who must bounce back and make the assumed improvement.
There’s each way value in Alfie Spinner. He was 2nd in both the last two cunning’s of this race (after TYM was disqualified last year), he obviously acts around Wincanton and returns off a lower mark this year. He raced off 126 in 2013, 127 in 2014 and now 122 tomorrow. A horse that has never made an impact when fresh, his seasonal reappearance was more than adequate to blow the cobwebs off. No win in 20 starts is worrying, but there have been 9 placed efforts in that space of time so he is a relatively consistent 3m chaser. He was placed in the Beecher Chase after Wincanton last season. Nick Williams has also had 5 of his last 7 runners placed so despite not firing in the winners stable form is not an issue.
Benvolio will just be prepping for the Welsh National. Theatrical Star has been running consistently well in staying handicap chases and is another who could go close but may need a career best to win. Doing Fine came up a little short when stepped up in class last season. Similar comments apply to Carole’s Destrier who looks on a stiff mark for what he’s achieved.
1pt e/w Alfie Spinner – 14.05 Wincanton at 16/1 with Stan James and BetVictor
0.5 points win Forecast The Ould Lad to beat Alfie Spinner
Another race in Wincanton that Paul Nicholls has farmed recently is the (13.30) Rising Stars Novice Chase. 5 of the last 8 winners which included some of his best staying chasers. Arpege D’Alene represents him here and I expect this fella to be a star for team Nicholls this season. Just the 3 starts for the 5yo last term with a view to saving him for chasing. He’s a half-brother to Hennessy winner Triolo D’Alene. Firstly at Ascot he won a maiden easily, then as quite an inexperienced novice he contested a red-hot Challow and wasn’t disgraced. All bar one in the race have won since or else been G1 placed, the odd one out is a dual G2 winner. It was a very good run in the circumstances. He signed off for the season defeating the then 153 rated Lanzarote winner Tea for Two. Arpege D’Alene was arguably one of the best novice hurdlers not to be seen at the Spring Festivals and that could pay off for him this year. It possibly puts him slightly under the radar here. The previous chase winners must concede a few penalty lbs to him here which won’t help their causes.
The Elite Hurdle at Wincanton looks very tricky. If pushed I like Zarib and don’t like All Yours. But Irving and Francis of Assisi could easily steal the show. Concentrate on the chases.
3 points win Arpege D’Alene – 13.30 Wincanton at 15/8 with Bet365