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


By and large I was pleased with last weekend, when Rivellino won the good sprint at Lingfield and Join The Clan finished a very good second in the staying hurdle at Sandown. He has already qualified for the Pertemps Final and that is definitely the race for him. He reminds me slightly of Creon, who also represented the Jonjo O’Neill/JP McManus team and won the Final at 50/1 after running over fences.

Rivellino is best caught fresh and went in at 7/1. He underlined how important it is to be out and about early because you would certainly have found 10/1 or even 12s during the morning. Incidentally, I liked Alben Star in the race as well but he never got into the argument. Like Rivellino, he has finished placed in a Stewards’ Cup and is no back number, though I imagine it takes longer to get him ready these days. He will be a price when contesting the Sprint Championship on Good Friday and is worth waiting for.

I go all the way back with the Betfair Hurdle, formerly the Schweppes Gold Trophy, and have enjoyed some good days, notably with Jamesmead, by one of my favourite horses Import out of another, Cathy Jane. Both were trained by Bill Wightman and Cathy Jane was Mick Channon’s first winner. He bred Jamesmead, who went to David Elsworth.

This year’s race is very hard and offers a good example of the way connections can influence a market. Blazer wasn’t mentioned a couple of weeks ago but he won in Ireland last weekend, has been chosen by Barry Geraghty and, of course, has very powerful and successful connections in JP McManus and Willie Mullins. He may win but is poor value now under his penalty and looks saver material more than anything else.

Sternrubin is in great form and may not have finished winning but, if you look carefully at races where he has competed against ZARIB, he has plenty to do at the weights this time. Dan Skelton decided several days ago to go for the 5lb allowance claimed by the excellent Bridget Andrews and this may well be a shrewd move. The 20/1 has gone but may still be available on the Tote. I shall back Zarib, looking for a bookmaker paying on the first five.

A stronger bet is Nicky Henderson’s L’AMI SERGE in the former Game Spirit Chase. He won very easily at Wetherby and, although the time was very slow in heavy ground, he was much too good for the useful Run Ructions Run, who loves those conditions.

Paul Nicholls is happy with Champion Chase winner Dodging Bullets but the horse has been absent for a long time and has to concede L’Ami Serge 8lb. This is the sort of situation where those at Ditcheat will be happy if Dodging Bullets gives L’Ami Serge a race to two out and then looks to turn things around at Cheltenham.

Lingfield has been very good to me this winter. I’m not keen on anything there on Saturday but would be inclined to oppose Si Senor in the Ladbrokes Handicap at 3.45. He scrambled in last time but needed all of Adam Kirby’s strength to get there and will struggle off a higher mark.