Weekend Eye-Catchers – 04/12/17

Weekend Eye-Catchers – 04/12/17

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We’ve picked out the four horses that caught our eye over the weekend…

Last weekend we saw potentially the two winners of the infamous Cheltenham Gold Cup and Aintree Grand National next year as Blaklion triumphed in the Becher Handicap Chase at Aintree and Sizing John reigned victorious on his season reappearance in the John Durkan Memorial Chase at Punchestown. We’ll take a look back at those two runs along with two others who caught our eye over the weekend.

Blaklion – Becher Handicap Chase

Sent off 7/4 favourite for the race and already 20/1 favourite for the Grand National, Blaklion lived up to the hype with a dominant performance at Aintree. After being held up at the back of the pack instead of making the pace like he did in last years national, he travelled arguably the best of the field and once he’d jumped the final fence cleanly, Gavin Sheehan pressed the go button on him and he flew home to claim a convincing nine length victory. Attentions now turn to how he’s going to get treated by the handicapper. If he stays on the right side of them then the 10/1 odds which he now is for the Grand National could well turn out to be sensational odds come April!

Sceau Royal – Henry VIII Novices Chase

Now for arguably the shock of the weekend as Daryl Jacob steered the Alan King trained Sceau Royal to Henry VIII Novices Chase glory at Sandown. Sent off as 11/1 outsider of the five runner field, he ran a near perfect race which has seen him hammered in from 25/1 to 8/1 for the Arkle at Cheltenham in March. Much was expected from Brain Power and Finian’s Oscar in the race as the two big guns but Brain Power unseated rider Danny Mullins at the last after being out of it and Finian’s ran comfortably the worst race of his career to finish 61 lengths behind Sceau Royal. Beaten by third favourite for the race North Hill Harvey at the end of October, Sceau Royal was held up towards the back until staying on superbly to claim the £28,000 prize. He’s now well in contention for the Arkle and will appeal to most each way fanatics at his current price of 8/1.

Politologue – Betfair Tingle Creek

Arguably one of the weakest Tingle Creeks in recent years, Paul Nicholls’s 6-y-0 grey Politologue shocked odds on favourite Fox Norton to claim the historic prize. A big hole was left in the race during the week as the well backed Douvan was pulled out on Thursday and that all but took the glamour out of the race. Despite being 7/2 second favourite, not many were backing Politologue for this considering how weak he looked in the final furlong of his last race however jockey Harry Cobden was quoted in the week by one pundit on ITV Racing talking up his chances and discussing just how much the horse had improved at the yard and improved he did in fearless style. The victory saw him halve in price for the Champion Chase at Cheltenham but with the likes of Douvan and Altior both rumoured to be aiming for that race, he will once again have to go on improving but he’s most certainly in with a chance at this rate.

Sizing John – John Durkin Punchestown Memorial Chase

Quite comfortably the most significant winner of the weekend, Sizing John proved just too good for the rest of the pack in the Grade 1 John Durkin Punchestown Memorial Chase. In a field of five with 25 Grade wins between them all, he was ridden prominently just behind Djakadam after drifting all day to an SP of 2/1. He then made his move on the final turn as they headed into the straight and Robbie Power never looked back to claim an impressive seven length victory. There are two things that make this win so remarkable. The first one being it was his first race in 228 days. Usually the first run of the season is just one to get the cobwebs off in time for a busy Winter and Spring schedule so for him to win it at the ease he did is some feat. The final thing is the depth of the race. The fact a field that small has had 25 Grade winners between them says all you need to know, it wasn’t a race for mugs. He’s now rightly so 4/1 favourite for Gold Cup glory for the second year on the bounce and if he continues to improve then he’s most definitely going to be the one to beat.

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