CeeBee previews Sunday's racing from Sandown where Coneygree reappears and Navan where Hidden Cyclone is his fancy in the Fortria Chase.
On Sunday at Sandown the bare 3miles on good ground (assuming they don’t get torrential rain like some experience today) won’t be ideal for Coneygree. His optimum trip is beyond 3miles where his relentless galloping renders him very hard to catch. Add in the fact Nico will be eager to give him an easy time and may not go quick enough early enough in front, leaves him very vulnerable. His strength is his stamina, the relentless gallop. He won’t be quickening up and sprinting away from anyone if turns into a sprint up the Sandown straight.
Southfield Theatre and Puffin Billy are decent horses who won their fair share of novice chases last term. If Southfield really is targeting the Hennessy he shouldn’t get too close but that’s not the Nicholls way. He also had a bad cut after the RSA so possibly may need this more than most of the Ditcheat horses’ first time out.
Puffin Billy is actually rated 1lb higher than ST and gets an additional 6lbs here. 3 miles on good ground going right handed look ideal for Puffin Billy. The fact he’s 2pts bigger in the betting helps swing it his way also. He wasn’t at his best early in the season but winning 3 in a row in the spring, the final victory a handicap off 150 marked him down as a well above-average chaser.
Slowboats Harry Topper, Corrin Wood and Bostons Angel have all been beaten in this recently at short prices. I’m not putting Coneygree in their category (not even close, he’s a superb Gold Cup winner) but he has similar traits in that just like them his strong stamina is one of his best weapons. A combination of ground, trip, small field and first time up mean having a small play on Puffin Billy at the prices is sensible.
1 point win Puffin Billy at 13/2 with Betfred
The other highlight on Sunday comes from Ireland. The Fortria Chase at Navan (14.50) is a traditional starting point for the country’s top 2mile chasers. This year’s renewal is a very good standard on paper. Note whilst the ground currently says Yielding there is plenty of rain forecast on Sunday.
Special Tiara heads the market following his Sandown success in April. The summer like good ground would’ve helped him there as he goes so hard in front he barely gets 2miles. The rain is not ideal for him here. With the Tingle Creek his main pre-season aim I wouldn’t expect him to be fully tuned for this. A consistently better horse in the spring, his worst run last term was first time up in this very race.
Bright New Dawn doesn’t do winning, Flemenstar has plenty to prove and Days Hotel has twice been found wanting in weaker renewals of the Fortria. It’s between Twinlight and Hidden Cyclone for me.
Twinlight beat HC at Leopardstown over Christmas but that was a funny race where the leaders seemed to blow-up in the straight. HC (getting 8lbs) easily got the better of the battle at Punchestown 2mts later in February before going on to run (and jump badly) in the wrong race at Cheltenham. Hidden Cyclone ran well at Galway in July and returns now after 3mts off.
His form after 60+days off reads 1112F1 (the F was a likely victory). That’s impressive (considering his trainer is really a cattle farmer). Twinlight is a somewhat inconsistent sort. He threw in an absolute stinker in Cork a few weeks after winning last year’s Fortria. Interestingly most of his runs on good ground have been disappointing efforts so connections will be hoping for plenty of rain. Cyclone won’t be bothered by any rain, the greater the test of stamina the better his chance of victory. His optimum trip is probably 2m2f whereas Twinlight has been beaten every time (7) he’s gone beyond 17f. Having Special Tiara up with the pace will hopefully help HC in this regard. At their best there is very little between Twinlight and Hidden Cyclone, but its Hidden Cyclone’s form when fresh, the fact he’s more consistent and receiving 2lbs that gets him the vote.
2 points win Hidden Cyclone at 10/3 with Coral and William Hill