UK racing this weekend
Sadly I am back in the UK now after a trip to Hong Kong and instead of the best turf horses running on the flat at Sha Tin at the HKIR meeting, my focus switches to Cheltenham over the jumps – but then again that is the fun of this game, the variety we get here in Britain and Ireland.
I do feel sorry for those countries who do not understand the lure of National Hunt racing, but then again their flat stars are not rushed off to stud and are around long enough to build up a fan base.
The big news this week, is it even news, has been the three-month ban handed out to Hayley Turner for betting while a licenced jockey. Rules are rules I suppose, but apparently she never had a bet while actually riding or on any race she participated in, so is it time the BHA looked at a change of rules.
I fully support a ban on anything you can potentially influence, but if you cannot as in this case, where exactly is the harm.
On to Cheltenham and I feel guilty for daring to desert The New One as he looks for a fourth International Hurdle, but maybe it is time for the next generation to take over.
Melon does not have the form in the book just yet to suggest he can compete at this level, but trainer Willie Mullins has always held him in the very highest regard at home and he did win on his return at Down Royal albeit by overcoming far too many mistakes. Whether he should be as short in the market is a different question as he has nine pounds to find with The New One according to official ratings, but I get the feeling we still haven’t seen the best of him as yet and today could be the day he comes of age.
Earlier on the card the old romantic in me cannot resist a little each way bet on Sire De Grugy in the 1.20pm when the now elven-year-old looks to recapture the sort of form that saw him win the Queen Mother Champion Chase from Somersby back in 2014.
Since then Gary Moore’s gelding has won three more races but has dropped down the ratings from a peak of 172 to the 159 he runs off today, which follows a poor last of eight at Ascot last month. Those mug enough to back him like me will be putting their faith in what is undoubtedly a winning handicap mark if he can be brought back to anything near to his best. But that is wishful thinking and you have been warned before you decide to follow me over the cliff.
One more suggestion from me. A little birdie tells me that Topofthecotswolds is highly regarded back at the Nigel Twiston-Davies stable (who I work with via my position with Myracing.com), and although he can only get better with experience, the 3.45pm at Hereford might not take that much winning, in which case he could get off the mark at the second attempt.
Melon 3.05pm Cheltenham Saturday
Sire De Grugy each-way 1.20pm Cheltenham Saturday
Topofthecotswolds 3.45pm Hereford