It was really good to be back at the Chepstow Jumps Opener yesterday, not just because of the thrill of proper national hunt racing, but also due to the fact I got to see a stunning chasing debut with my own eyes.
💭 Chepstow Day 1 Thoughts:
The most impressive performance was easily Chianti Classico for @kimbaileyracing.
Easy to say that he was always a 'chaser in the making', but after he settled under David Bass he jumped like an experienced chaser throughout.
However, what was most… https://t.co/Ns00EUhVMm
— Ash Symonds Journalism (@ASymondsJourno) October 13, 2023
Chianti Classico provided BestofBets readers with some tidy profit yesterday as Kim Bailey’s six-year-old jumped like an experienced chaser and won snugly under David Bass.
His win made up for the agonising defeat of Aye Right in the opener, so it really was a day of mixed emotions yesterday.
Aye Right eight lengths clear at the last… beaten on the line.
Bring back the Flat.
— Ash Symonds Journalism (@ASymondsJourno) October 13, 2023
Looking at today, fewer horses stand out as clearly as they did yesterday, however, three horses still grabbed my attention for the second day of action at the Welsh course.
3:10 Chepstow – Collectors Item @ 10/1 General – 1pt Win
Heavy ground is on the menu at Chepstow today after yesterday’s deluge, something that can only benefit the chance of Collectors Item in the Listed Novices’ Chase at 3:10.
The Jonjo O’Neill-trained six-year-old won on this card last year in the two-mile novice hurdle to beat Hugos New Horse by two-and-a-quarter lengths; Hugos New Horse went on to win four races after this run to frank the form.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) October 7, 2022
This performance over the minimum distance surprised connections as they always thought he would be better over a further distance, though his victory at this track and second at Newbury over two miles in a bumper shows that he has plenty of speed.
After the turn of the new year, the £115,000 purchase won on his first start at three miles to beat Makin’yourmindup, though Paul Nicholls’ six-year-old reversed the form in the Grade 2 Prestige Novices’ Hurdle one month later.
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 14, 2023
When speaking to Jonjo O’Neill Jnr last season, he said that “whatever he does this year is a bonus as he will definitely go over fences” and that he was still growing into his frame at the start of this year.
One can deduce from these comments that he slightly overperformed expectations last year and, interestingly, connections are sending him into this Listed contest on his first run over fences.
Admittedly, Collectors Item has to find a bit on ratings with Knappers Hill and Unexpected Party, however, there’s a chance that Paul Nicholls’ Grade 2-winning hurdler prefers better ground and Dan Skelton’s second-season novice still needs to prove himself over fences.
Although today’s task is over 2m3f, Collectors Item is a proven stayer over further and with conditions set to be in his favour, this unexposed type could take a big step forward today.
4:15 Chepstow – Molly Ollys Wishes @ 8/1 General – 1pt EW
The £70,000 Wasdell Group Silver Trophy Handicap Hurdle highlights the second day of the Chepstow Jumps Opener and plenty here have interesting profiles.
Both Uncle Bert and Sign From Above lured me in for a prolonged look into their form, though the one I couldn’t get away from was Molly Ollys Wishes at 8/1.
Despite her victory in the Listed bet365 Mares’ Hurdle in October, the nine-year-old mare had a season to forget last year as she was unfound in her five subsequent runs, although three of them can be forgiven due to trip and ground reasons.
A real battle here! ⚔️
— ITV Racing (@itvracing) October 29, 2022
Having started last season on an official mark of 143, Dan Skelton’s experienced hurdler rocks up to today’s Silver Trophy off a mark of 134 and with Tristan Durrell’s valuable five-pound claim, she is very well-handicapped on all known form.
Admittedly, one has to go back to December 2020 for her last handicap victory when successful off a mark of 130 under Harry Skelton at Kempton, but from there, Molly Ollys Wishes was pitched into 11 straight level-weights contests and managed to win the Grade 2 SBK Mares’ Hurdle in January 2022 and three Listed-level races.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) January 22, 2022
Of these four most recent victories, all of them came off a break of at least 50 days and two of them were on her seasonal reappearance, so her record when fresh is impeccable.
Furthermore, all four of these victories came on ground varying from good to soft (Wetherby) to heavy (Warwick), so today’s heavy conditions should suit well.
As suggested, a few unexposed types in here could show vast improvement, but with the well-handicapped nature of Molly Ollys Wishes, it’s hard to leave her alone.
4:50 Chepstow – Despereaux @ 7/1 General – 1pt EW
Since the non-runner announcement of Afadil yesterday, Chepstow’s penultimate race turned into an interesting betting contest and the one that appeals the most is Despereaux at 7/1.
Jane Williams’ four-year-old comes into his seasonal reappearance as an unexposed prospect having raced just five times last season.
He showed plenty of greenness during his first run in a junior national hunt hurdle at Ffos Las, so much so that he ran himself out before the final flight.
This exuberance continued into his second start at Huntingdon in November, though David Noonan managed to hold him together after the last and guided him home to what was an impressive half-a-length success.
Nice effort 🏇
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) November 19, 2022
After Christmas, the Great Pretender gelding rocked up to a hot Class 2 juvenile hurdle at Huntingdon and despite what the eight-length third may suggest, he performed well in the circumstances.
In a race won by Perseus Way, a Gary Moore-trained gelding that went on to finish second in the Grade 2 Adonis Juvenile Hurdle on his next start, Despereaux jumped the last hurdle one-length behind the eventual winner, however, he made a big blunder which cost him any chance at winning the race.
He's good! 🏇
Perseus Way jumps much better than he has done previously to justify short odds emphatically in the feature Weatherbys Chatteris Fen Juvenile Hurdle @Huntingdon_Race. Next stop the Triumph?
— Racing TV (@RacingTV) January 13, 2023
Even with this final flight mistake, he ran through the line well under Noonan to finish five lengths behind the second, Samuel Spade; Ben Pauling’s four-year-old bolted up by 16 lengths on his next start, further franking the form.
Following an impressive two-length victory at Taunton in March and a disappointing effort in the big Juvenile Handicap Hurdle at Ascot, Despereaux finds himself on a workable mark of 116, the second-lowest rating in the race.
I find it hard to believe he is the second-worst horse in today’s four-year-old hurdle, so for this reason, taking a swing at 7/1 looks like an exciting idea.