Ante-post betting, especially over jumps, is something I have always enjoyed and, at the risk of sounding a clever dick, I haven't done too badly. Halfway through the current National Hunt campaign things were looking promising with the Cheltenham Festival in mind. However, they have certainly taken a turn for the worst in recent weeks with Capodanno taken out of the National Hunt Chase and it looks increasingly likely Henry De Bromhead will steer Journey With Me towards the Ballymore Novices' Hurdle, especially after stablemate Shantreusse's victory over three miles at Clonmel. My one remaining hope for him is if the ground dries up and the unbeaten gelding contests the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle instead. When it comes off, it can be very satisfying but at the moment it is frustrating to say the least.
On the same card at Clonmel on Thursday, Hors Piste was an easy winner of the mares' maiden hurdle. Featured in the French Revolution section in One Jump Ahead, the daughter of Kapgarde was narrowly beaten on her Irish debut at Tramore on New Year's Day. Dropping in distance, she jumped well and always looked in control scoring by sixteen lengths. Entered in the Dawn Run Mares' Novices' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, she has a lot more to offer and could make her mark in Graded contests before her summer break. The five year old is the sixteenth individual winner from that section in the book.
On Thursday afternoon, I interviewed Michael Dods for Ahead On The Flat. Based near Darlington, the Group 1 winning handler has a fine collection of sprinters for the new campaign. Michael was telling me that he has had a big clear out with over 30 horses either being sold, retired or rehomed. These include stable stalwarts Get Knotted and Que Amoro. Denton Hall Farm has plenty to look forward to in 2022 though with some smashing young horses.
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