Cobden’s claim is so important on Alcala

March 12th, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

Maybe I should have had the courage of my convictions regarding Sametegal at Newbury last week, though in fact the French challenger Pythagore also ran very well to be fourth. In the end Sam Twiston-Davies rode the winner whereas I’d have been relying on Harry Cobden’s claim to a degree. Sametegal did it well and will have a chance in one of the Cheltenham handicaps, though last week’s prize means connections will not be too worried either way.

I shall stay with Paul Nicholls this weekend, when the nap is SEMPER INVICTA at Chepstow. The champion trainer often chooses this venue for young hurdlers with plenty still to prove and this maiden hurdle should be the right task for Semper Invicta, who was pushed wide when last seen finishing behind the placed horses at Ascot. On the face of it that was a pretty ordinary effort but he has been given time, remains lightly raced and may justify a short price on this occasion.

The Sandown card looks very tricky and the right approach is to back at least a couple in the Imperial Cup. I can’t see anything obviously ‘tucked away’ with the race in mind and maybe the winner will come from among the prolific topweights. In fact, the much-improved Rayvin Black is by no means out of it when Tom Garner claims his 3lb and Oliver Sherwood continues in great form.

I think Rayvin Black will make the first four, justifying an each-way investment, though you might argue that Sue Gardner’s Sirop De Menthe is entitled to run him close. Beaten 5 lengths by Rayvin Black here on more testing ground not so long ago, Sirop De Menthe is an extra 7lb to the good this time and should not be far away.

Cobden’s 7lb allowance also brings Nicholls’ ALCALA into the picture. Easy winner of a modest affair last time, this will be immeasurably harder but the claim in a competitive event of this nature can be highly significant. Alcala was set to run off the same mark, so Alcala is effectively 7lb well in with the lad worth every ounce of his claim.

Otherwise I am happy to leave everything to the opening day at Cheltenham, when I expect The New One to go close in the Champion Hurdle and Polly Peachum to reward each-way backers (with a very fair chance of winning ) in the Mares’ Hurdle.