TOMORROW’S Betfair Hurdle at Newbury (3.00pm) seems to revolve around Nicky Henderson’s My Tent Or Yours.
With the stable losing Champion Hurdle contender Darlan in a tragic fall at Doncaster on Monday, it would be great to see AP McCoy, who was on board Darlan when he upturned at the last, and owner JP McManus end the week with some better news.
My Tent Or Yours has always been well-regarded, starting an odds-on favourite in five of his six career runs, and is a leading prospect for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival next month. A win will see him cut for the Festival’s first contest but he was 12/1 when the betting opened for this race and is now just a general 7/2 shot.
So, from a value perspective I can leave him alone, especially as the last five winners all carried less than the 11st2lb the six-year-old has to shoulder.
The two that interest me are RONALDO DES MOTTES and VILLAGE VIC for trainers David Pipe and Philip Hobbs respectively.
Ronaldo Des Mottes hasn’t won since December 2009, but for an eight-year-old he is lightly-raced. His best ever career effort was in this race two years ago, when he just failed to concede 7lb to Get Me Out Of Here.
The Rifapour gelding is just 2lb higher than that second place finish now and he should improve on a satisfactory reappearance at Sandown last month. The decent claimer Tom Bellamy takes off 7lb meaning he is on a very manageable weight of 10st4lb. He’s 12/1 with Star Sports.
Village Vic has come up against three of the most exciting novice hurdlers in his last three outings – The New One, Coneygree and Melodic Rendezvous – but the fact the son of Old Vic has started favourite in two of those suggest connections think he is a lot better than he’s been able to show so far.
A short break should have done him some good and a repeat of his close second to The New One at Cheltenham last October should see him have a say in proceedings. Elsewhere on a brilliant card, Silviniaco Conti (2.25pm), Simonsig (3.00pm) and Unioniste (4.10pm) all look very difficult to beat as they bid to enhance their Festival claims. Paul Nicholls’ Unioniste was mightily impressive at Cheltenham last time, defying his lack of experience to win readily from experienced yardsticks. The five-year-old will at least be odds-against.
Over at Leopardstown, two of Ireland’s most exciting chasers, FLEMENSTAR and Sir Des Champs, do battle once more in the Irish Hennessy (3.20pm).
The bookmakers can hardly split the pair with Peter Casey’s Flemenstar just shading the betting at 6/5 with Coral. Willie Mullins’ Sir Des Champs is 5/4 with Blue Square Bet but was beaten convincingly by the former at Punchestown in December and again just edged out in the Lexus Chase when he was fourth, just a short head behind Flemenstar.
Supporters hope a combination of better ground and slight question marks over his rival’s stamina may see last year’s Jewson winner reverse the form.
Perhaps tactics here at the Dublin course in the Lexus undid Flemenstar, who had them all off the bridal turning for home before weakening in the final furlong and getting nabbed near the line.
He travelled like the best horse that day and on slightly better ground he is worth another chance to show he stays three miles. Sir Des Champs jumped poorly and has it all to prove having yet to reach the heights of last year.
The likes of Quel Esprit and Joncol are held on all known form and it’s a big step up for Roi Du Mee.
Looking ahead, Paddy Power have priced up the Racing Plus Chase at Kempton on Saturday 23 February and make WYCK HILL their 6/1 favourite. That is a great bet considering that Wyck Hill beat Katenko by four lengths at Ascot in December.
Katenko has gone on to demolish his opponents in two decent contests since en route to a crack at the Gold Cup and Michael Bridgewater holds similar aspirations for Wyck Hill, who has to be winning this sort of race if he is to go for Cheltenham’s showpiece event. With Katenko now rated 158, the nine-year-old looks really well-handicapped off 142.
RONALDO DES MOTTES e/w 3.00pm Sandown (tomorrow)
VILLAGE VIC e/w 3.00pm Sandown (tomorrow)
FLEMENSTAR 3.20pm Leopardstown (tomorrow)
WYCK HILL Racing Plus Chase (23 February, Kempton)