Can Affair make the headlines for Ward family?
The field sizes at Naas on Thursday are enormous, so those fed a diet of these small field novice chases of late have plenty of each-way options today with two handicaps blessed with over 16 runners, and in the four races comprising of maiden hurdles and a beginners’ chase, there are three with 20+ in the field.
Some of the races might be so cramped, it will be like the cabin in the Marx Brothers’ Night At The Opera, there are that many runners.
The 12:15 Maiden Hurdle has a real dearth of any worthwhile form. Gordon Elliott’s Bancroft has been well beaten in two of his completed starts, but he’s only priced at 10/3 purely because of Elliott. Ten of the others have a rating around 90 or below, so it’s low-grade stuff.
But I am going to have a bit of a leap of faith moment in going for Another Affair for Vincent Ward. He was priced at 25/1 on the Sportsbook last night, although it’s a race I would have hated making a book for.
The 6yo showed some ability in a bumper won by Willie Mullins’ Ramillies. It was a race in which a complete rag was ignored in front, but Another Affair stayed in touch with the pack for a large chunk of the race, in a position where he was always trapped on the outside, seeing too much daylight. Ramillies is fairly smart hurdler and had far too much pace, but it was an encouraging start considering he was a 50/1 chance.
He was shorter in the betting thing on his next start, but was well beaten there, as he was at Wexford on his final bumper start, but soft conditions again might help and there was enough in that first run to suggest there is some ability.
His jockey Paddy O’Hanlon is a fairly experienced 7lb claimer and actually rode his first-ever winner on the Flat at Dundalk. Ward also trained the selection’s mother End Of The Affair, who was a fairly consistent runner on the Flat, and would be some story today, as the veteran Meath handler only has six boxes and is a farmer with over 300 stock.
Alphonse deserves one more Grande chance
The great cricket writer Neville Cardus said he could sense when Don Bradman was about to embark on another great innings, and while Jabbar against Alphonse Le Grande is hardly a titanic battle of Ashes proportions in a moderate 2yo handicap, I do get the feeling it’s about time the latter wins a race.
I backed him last time and thought his jockey Paul Mulrennan was totally outridden by Davie Probert at Newcastle. Jabbar was in virtually an identical position to Alphonse held up, but Probert switched him to the outside and had a clear run, where as Mulrennan met all sorts of traffic problems despite travelling well.
Backing these sort of horses is not a good idea most of the time with unlucky runs, as he is now 0-7, but this is a winnable race and going up in trip an extra 2f to 1m2f will suit him as a son of Sea The Stars.
The way he moved through that race last time suggests he is well handicapped from 67 and Tom Marquand takes over. He really ought to be better with the pedigree he has. And hopefully STS can do it again.
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