Simonsig’s a lovely horse with a great engine, and the grey drew plenty praise for his jumping in his only two chases so far, at Ascot and Kempton. On the face of it, he seemed to jump well but watching him closely, there were a couple of fences where he just didn’t get his back end very high. Long Run does the same thing, mostly when he comes under pressure, and that horse has always given me the impression it’s a physical ‘fault’. He looks as though he can’t bend his back enough to just get his rear end high enough.
Simonsig certainly hasn’t blundered, but he’s been under no pressure yet. His schooling might have ironed out these flaws and he could fly round like Sprinter Sacre. But for all the stable’s praise about his schooling, I noted they’d called Yogi Breisner in 12 days ago for Simonsig’s schooling session. For those unfamiliar with Breisner, he’s the go-to man for horses with jumping problems, he’s the Monty Roberts of trying to make them pick their feet up. If his jumping was flawless, why was Yogi called in?( No jokes about making too many Boo-Boos).
As you’ll see from the pics, he seems to hurdle his fences at times. There’s nothing wrong with that so long as you can quickly get your back end high enough to skim the fence top on the way down. But, as Long Run has shown a number of times, not getting your rear up quickly enough can cost plenty momentum.
I suppose that even if he’s less than foot-perfect tomorrow, he could still win. He has plenty class and for all Overturn’s front-running flashiness, he’s an all-or-nothing type who looked to me to be less confident at Doncaster than he’d been at Sandown. He fiddled a couple at Donny earning pundit tributes for ‘cleverness’, but if he hits one tomorrow it could be with an almighty clatter. I’m far from convinced Cheltenham’s undulations and tough fences will suit Overturn.
Arvika Ligeonnere lines up having fallen last time – never ideal as you don’t know if confidence has been affected. In his previous run he jumped to his right a few times, something that could lose him ground here.
So, I’ll be having a couple of small win singles and a reversed forecast on Tap Night and Baily Green. The latter, with 15 error-free steeplechases under his girth, is far and away the most experienced fencer in the field, although he too can jump to his right at times. He was third to Arvika L last time and, on jumping and experience alone, is worth a bet at 40s on Betfair.
A few bookies offer 33/1 Tap Night, a JP horse ridden my AP McCoy. He won cheekily at Ayr in the mud last time having disappointed at Musselburgh before that, and I’m always happy to forgive a horse one poor run, especially at this price.
I’m in no doubt that the chances of Baily Green and Tap Night depend on the front three in the market making errors, but, to small stakes, I’m happy to bet them rather than shovel on Simonsig and shut my eyes every time he comes to a fence.
Above everything, as ever, bugger the bets so long as all of them come home in one piece – in the Arkle and, of course, for the whole festival.
Good luck to you and to all horses and jockeys tomorrow.