Sizing Coal looks a talented raider

March 19th, 2016 | Ian Carnaby's Racing News

I had a very poor Cheltenham, the major disappointments being Polly Peachum, Yanworth, who did not receive the best of rides (but in my opinion would not have won anyway), Upswing and, to a lesser degree, Join The Clan. The last-named briefly looked like turning the whole week round when moving through to lead in the Pertemps Final because he would have paid a small fortune but he was easily swallowed up in the end.

It was probably possible to find someone paying out on the first four in the cross country, where Quantitativeeasing naturally came fourth and, of course, if I were into the exchanges I’d have laid Cue Card to the maximum because I didn’t think he’d stay. Quite what Paddy Brennan was doing, I doubt that even he knows. To drive a doubtful stayer between horses three-parts of a mile out, as if about to take charge of the race, was optimistic at best and foolish at worst. Cue Card made a most uncharacteristic error when he should have been lobbing along behind the front two or three, waiting to make his move. Astonishing.

There was, in fact, one way out on the punting front  –  two if you include On the Fringe at a worryingly short price  –  because Superb Story had been laid out for the County Hurdle and the form with Old Guard in the Greatwood brooked no argument. When you look at the way Dan Skelton has brought this horse on, you may consider the wisdom or otherwise of backing anything trained by Charlie Mann. That may sound harsh, but just have a look back at the horse’s record ‘before and after’.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I had a very successful January and February and have been brought down to earth in double-quick time. Over the past few days I’ve found myself thinking of Goodwood and Brighton but maybe everything will be different next year.

Incidentally, I wasn’t too disappointed with Pink Gin at Towcester. He is coming back very slowly and Jim Old, via Nigel Twiston-Davies, will win a race with him, possibly there or at Leicester or Huntingdon. You can’t read too much into distances in NH racing; he was beaten a long way in the end but actually ran quite a bit better this time. Stay with him, and back Aldeburgh on decent ground.

I’m not sure there is anything strong enough for the line on Saturday and things are very tricky at Uttoxeter, where a glut of handicaps may well work in the bookies’ favour after a tough festival for them.

Admirable performer though he is, Shotgun Paddy still makes occasional mistakes and the handicapper gives him no respite, so the Midlands National looks a tough task under 11st 11lb. If you’re going with that form line, Firebird Flyer comes into the argument as well but it’s hard to look beyond Jim Dreaper’s SIZING COAL at the weights. He has form in the Irish National to his credit and may have been let in a shade lightly.

The in-form handicap hurdlers in the preceding contest are ALMOST GEMINI and MUHTARIS, who goes well for young William Featherstone and may defy a 6lb increase for his Newbury success. Backing the pair of them to small stakes each-way might be the best move.