Never Underestimate Carlisle Form

November 26th, 2017 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there

It’s a long time since I’ve seen a Grade 1 race won by the margin Bristol De Mai achieved in yesterday’s Betfair Chase at Haydock.

We all acknowledge that on testing ground the distances can be exaggerated, but even allowing for the possibility that Cue Card is not the hrose he was, we know that Outlander in third is a decent performer on his day and this must go down as a performance of great merit. The clock confirmed the impression on the eye, with the time over 10 seconds faster than Chase The Spud off the same weight and over the same course and distance in the next.

Furthermore, although he seems to have been around for a long time, Bristol De Mai – remarkably – is only six.

Cue Card still has a rating of 168, with Outlander on 166 and Tea For Two on 164, so they finished in the right order. At 1lb a length Bristol De Mai, rated on 160 coming into the race, ran to a mark of 225, which is of course ridiculous.

In fact I would suggest that on likely better ground around Kempton the grey could struggle to reproduce this quality of performance. He couldn’t pass Blaklion on his return at Wetherby having finished almost 30 lengths behind Tea For Two and Cue Card at Aintree in April.

I would not wish to imply that this was a fluke but it was his third win from three appearances at Haydock in the mud and he clearly loves the place. As for his new BHA figure, I expect it will rise from 160 to the mid-170s. This would put him ahead of current Gold Cup winner Sizing John, who is rated on 169.

People are starting to get rather excited about Samcro, who retained his unbeaten record when winning today’s 2m 4f Grade 3 novice hurdle at Navan.

The son of Germany, who won his sole start between the flags and each of his three bumper races last season, stayed the two and a half miles very well having won a 2m hurdle last month by 15 lengths at Punchestown.

Gordon Elliott said afterwards the horse would be better still on better ground while his rider Jack Kennedy said the horse gave him the best feel he’s ever hard from a horse. Samcro may skip the Christmas programme to wait for the Grade 1 Lawlor’s Hotel Novice Hurdle over 2m 4f at Naas on 7 January.

As for Cheltenham, I would not expect his connections to commit to either of the two obvious novice options until much nearer the time. At the moment he is a top price of 16/1 for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle but just 5/2 for the longer Ballymore, suggesting the latter race is the target. There is a long time to go until March but as things are shaping up Samcro has the feel of an early banker.

I was initially disappointed with the performance of Big River at Haydock On Saturday. I know how highly Lucinda Russell and her partner Peter Scudamore rate the seven-year-old, but he was never travelling at any stage. It transpired following a post-race examination that he was suffering from atrial fibrillation and also lost two of his shoes.

Mark my words this is a good horse and I just hope he makes a full recovery to good health.

I have always said that jumps form at Carlisle holds up to inspection and we saw an example of that when Count Meribel, who won his first two races this season at the Cumbrian track, followed up under a penalty in the novices’ hurdle which opened the card at Haydock.

Kildisart, who chased him home on the second occasion, won one of the best novice hurdles of the season on Friday at Ascot.  Keep an eye on the ones that followed them home as this is shaping into very useful form.

Bye for now