Welcome to the first week of my new blog for attheraces.com. Over the course of the next few months I will be taking a close look at plenty of action from the ‘Summer Jumps’ meetings; this week I've taken a look at the feature race at Perth on Sunday.
RACE IN FOCUS
This looks like it could be quite a hot contest and I have focussed my attentions on a couple of contenders from the list of early entries. I would suggest that the two I have selected are worth noting in the coming weeks irrespective of how they perform should they happen to line-up in the 4.25 on Sunday
I was really surprised to see Monbeg Legend come down at the eighth fence at Uttoxeter on the 26th May. His jumping has generally been very good in his seven previous chases and this blip at Uttoxeter was the first time he has failed to complete the course in his 13 races under rules; furthermore it was the first time he has failed to finish in the first three places in his eight races over the larger obstacles. The rain softened ground was definitely against him on that last outing so hopefully the predicted showers for Perth will not be heavy enough to inconvenience him too much should he take his place in the line-up on Sunday.
Prior to Uttoxeter this son of Midnight Legend finished third in a grade two chase at Ayr whilst competing on his favoured fast ground. Accordingly I suspect that this performance is a reasonable reflection of Monbeg Legend’s ability level over an intermediate trip. The rain softened ground had been against him in his two previous chases in October at Cheltenham and Chepstow respectively; consequently he has competed on softer ground than ideal in three of his latest four races which may have slightly disguised his ability level and thus kept him on his 143 rating over fences.
He stayed two miles six and a half furlongs well in an average contest at Stratford in September which adds some substance to the possibility of him staying this near three miles around Perth. I hope his connections do not decide to hold him up on this step up in trip as if he is allowed to bowl along as usual I can see him leading until deep into the contest at worst; thus offering the potential for a simple in running trade. Monbeg Legend’s chances will increase further should the ground ride genuinely good on Sunday. Whatever happens to him at Perth I would suggest he is a horse to remain interested in over the next few weeks; particularly when he appears likely to enjoy a relatively easy lead and when competing on a sound surface and ideally over a trip just shy of three miles - I may revise my thinking on that last point after Sunday!
I remember being particularly impressed with the performance of Sumkindofking when he finished runner up in the Listed Badger Ales Chase at Wincanton in November. He was beaten by a horse in Present Man who was competing in his optimum conditions whilst finishing 11 lengths clear of the third horse home. This Tom George trained chaser came from well off the pace on that occasion and would have appeared to be a handicap snip but for the tenacious and classy winner. I felt that Sumkindofking rather got away with one on this day as he was only raised 4lbs to a mark of 135.
I noted at that time that I thought the presence of Noel Fehily and also a sound surface might be two important variables to have on my side when considering his claims. Clearly that first variable is no longer a possibility; however I thought it might be significant that he returned to winning ways last time out at Southwell after having an experienced jockey on board for the first time since November. In some instances I am happy with an inexperienced rider taking weight off a horse’s back; nonetheless, in the case of Sumkindofking, who I do not think is completely straightforward, I favour having experience on my side.
I prefer the claims of this son of King’s Theatre when he is able to settle in behind off a decent gallop on good going. If he gets those conditions on Sunday he might be interesting at what could well be a double figure price. On the other hand, if the rain turns the ground softer than ideal then he is a horse that appears capable of winning a decent prize on another day over three miles plus this season when competing on his preferred good going.
For Jim runs in the 3.15 at Uttoxeter and is now a best priced 6/5 shot after opening up at 2/1 with many firms last night. His contracting in price is mainly due to his main market rival being pulled out this morning. He has the best chance of winning the race and is the correct favourite in my view; even though he is of no interest to me as a betting proposition at such a short price.
That last comment also applies to Stubborn Logic who is currently trading around the 11/8 mark for the second race at Market Rasen. I like the fact that Dr Newlands number one jockey takes over on him today, I suspect he is ahead of the handicapper and he has conditions in his favour.
I notice that Smith’s Bay is entered in the opening race at Market Rasen today and appears to have one serious rival in opposition. Interestingly enough his stable mate Harambe won in convincing fashion over this same course and distance after also disposing of Ferrobin.
Harambe followed up his Market Rasen success by finishing runner up to the highly touted Getaway Trump in a very hot contest at Sandown in late April. As a consequence Harambe is now rated 137 and the Alan King stable will be hoping that Smith’s Bay can follow in his footsteps commencing with a win in the opening contest.
I have no strong view either way as to whether he will be up to beating Red Royalist at Market Rasen; however, what I would suggest is that on the limited evidence available there is still a realistic chance that he will prove to be flattered by his current 123 hurdles rating.
Consequently even if he wins comfortably at odds on today Smith’s Bay might turn out to be vulnerable in a better race next time out when he may well be overestimated in the market on the strength of two successes in a row.