A wonderful weekend of jumps racing was highlighted by the epic dual for the Clarence House Chase between Energumene and Shishkin with the latter’s finishing kick from the last proving decisive.
Willie Mullins suggested post race that it would be difficult for his charge to exact his revenge at Cheltenham and I agree totally. With a cloud hanging over Chacun Pour Soi after his disappointing run in the Tingle Creek last month, the Champion Chase is Shishkin’s for the taking.
Longer term I wonder if Nicky Henderson will consider the Melling Chase over an additional half-mile at Aintree with one eye on the King George at Kempton at the end of the year. Ever since his extraordinary win in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle – nearly knocked over at the third last – I have felt he would appreciate a step up in trip in time. I appreciate that if it’s not broken then don’t fix it, but rather than go to Punchestown or Sandown in the spring I would love to see him step up in distance to the intermediate trip of two-and-a-half miles.
Three all-weather meetings this afternoon including a seven-race card at Kempton which is highlighted by a £25,000 fast-track qualifier for Good Friday over 6f. Kaboo (3.15) has never raced beyond the minimum trip, but he won going away over Newcastle’s stiff track last month.
Mojomaker finished a nose in front of the selection when they filled the places in the listed Dragon Stakes at Sandown back in July, but I believe the Karl Burke colt – 4/6 from Evens with Boylesports – has improved for a switch to the all-weather in recent starts and I believe he will improve again for another furlong.
Shoot To Kill has won his last three and the 5lbs penalty he picks up for scoring at Lingfield on Saturday is more than negated by the 7lb claim of Harry Davies. Do note that the promising young jockey has ridden two winners from just seven rides including one for trainer Robyn Brisland.
He must go close, but he is taking on another progressive sort in Whittle Le Woods (2.45) who appreciated being ridden more patiently when scoring at Chelmsford last time on just his second start for Michael Appleby. He looks capable of defying a 3lbs higher mark. The recommendation is 9/4 from 11/4 wityh William Hill.
Eltham Palace (4.20) is out of a Group 3 winner at today’s trip of 12f and cost 140,000gns as a yearling. He ran poorly on his sole previous start over 12f, but he was not given the best of rides and this fifteen-race maiden will have few better opportunities of shedding that tag. Rossa Ryan takes over in the saddle for the first time, David Simcock has his string in good form, and he is well drawn in stall two. The 3s available on Sunday evening looks fair.
At Wolverhampton, this evening I hope to see Chorus Song (6.30) build on a promising racecourse debut when third here over an extended mile over Christmas.
Today’s additional furlong will suit a filly who is a half-sister to three winners al at middle distances. Hollie Doyle takes over in the saddle and I expect her to make plenty of use of her mount. The main dangers appear to be White Willow and Sous Les Etoiles with the latter suggested as the chief threat to the recommendation who is 11/8 from 2s on Sunday evening.