Brampour appeals at the price for Saturday’s big hurdle race at Cheltenham (3.05pm). It is a tricky looking race which even Donald Rumsfeld would have trouble describing with his collection of ‘known knowns, unknown unknowns’ etc.
If Overturn lines up it should, at least, ensure a truly run race. I seem to recall many runnings of this in the past (The Bula Hurdle) have turned into sprints.
Overturn looks as though he’s improved a fair bit but he’s a horse I just cannot catch right. I’ve never bet him when he’s won but have done a couple of times when he ran poorly. Mr McCain had a habit of going to the well once too often with this horse although I think young Donald is learning all the time.
Still, even if the horse runs to form, a flat track would see him to better effect. I believe the same applies to Grandouet who ran a perfectly good race in The Triumph but went from cantering turning in, to not finding much on the slope.
I always avoid Menorah because although he is capable of absolutely flying a hurdle, he is prone to walk through the odd one too and I’d rather not chance him because of that.
Clerk’s Choice has changed stables. His reputation rests mostly on a Cheltenham victory in October last year which was very taking to the eye. But that was an unusual race in that two horses burned each other out at a very hot pace on fast ground leaving Clerk’s Choice to almost canter home by more than 20 lengths. He would, arguably, have to get those same conditions again to run close to that performance.
Irish Grade 1 winner Pittoni is interesting too though the classy and consistent Thousand Stars made him look flat-footed last time.
I like Brampour a lot. His form and running style suggest he’ll want a strong pace although young Derham said he was run off his feet in the early stages last time. Still, there’s a chance he wants a stamina test, and he’ll be the one I’ll be watching closest on Saturday. As I’ve mentioned in a couple of recent articles, if the price is big enough, I’m always happy to pay to find out just how far an improving horse can go. Highly thought of last season, he disappointed somewhat then, but one of the famous P Nicholls breathing ops seems to have made all the difference.
He’s shown his mettle in big fields off a strong pace. If he can pull this off, he’ll be a lively Champion Hurdle option for those reluctant to take the 7/4 about the yet-to-be-seen-this-season Hurricane Fly.
And a word here in appreciation of Brampour’s owners, Banks, Blackshaw and Gannon. This is their only horse. Young Derham cannot utilise his 7lbs claim because of the race conditions, and they could easily have given the ride to Ruby Walsh. Many people feel loyalty has no place in professional sport, but I think some owners take joy in being able to make dreams come true for others. To Ruby, it would be just another ride; to 17-y-o Harry Derham, it will be a day he’ll remember all his life.
A fascinating race in prospect.
Update: Brampour ran well – he was 3rd though I didn’t back him EW
My thoughts on the big Saturday Chase at Cheltenham are here