A number of commentators stated this weekend that it was unfortunate Melbourne Cup-bound Mount Athos had to win the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury to get a penalty to ensure that he gets a run in ‘the race that stops a nation’.
They argue that it’s a shame as he had a perfect racing weight of 52½kg and the extra weight he will receive could ruin his chance.
I don’t subscribe to this view at all as I think a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Having seen a horse that I own a part of the tail in finish an agonising second in a novice hurdle at the Galway Festival, I know that most owners would love to win any race yet alone a Group 3 at Newbury and trainer Luca Cumani and owner Dr Marwan Koukash should be grateful that they have such a very good animal.
However we were impressed enough to cut the winner to 12-1 (from 14) for the marquee race in Melbourne and I wish connections all the best in their overseas raid.
This Thursday my good friend Brendan Duke, who recently tied the knot with fiancee Angie after a whirlwind 12 year romance, runs Mister Benedictine in the Mullacurry Cup Handicap Hurdle at Bellewstown and he is my nap of the week.
I spoke to the trainer on Saturday afternoon and he told me that the nine-year-old worked very well that morning and he’s really looking forward to getting him back on track.
My selection is chasing a four-timer and sceptics will say that a 15lb rise in the weights should be enough to stop him. Normally I would agree but this rejuvenated jumper overcame a similar rise last time when he completed a brace at Kilbeggan and he apparently worked really well with another trainer’s exciting three-year-old a few weeks ago.
Duke was most unlucky that his charge was ballotted out of the Galway Hurdle and he can gain compensation here before going for another valuable prize at the Listowel Festival next month.
My other fancy this week is Dermot Weld’s Pale Mimosa in the Galtres Stakes on Thursday at York’s Ebor Meeting. Everybody is aware that the Curragh trainer loves having winners at the Galway Festival and anyone who was aware of her ability before she scooted in in a Ballybrit maiden must have been on to the bet of a lifetime.
Weld’s enthusiasm afterwards was simply infectious with him stating that ‘this is a nice filly’ and he immediately nominated this race for his winner. The daughter of Singspiel took the step up to a mile and a half for the first time in her stride at Galway and she’ll definitely get further in time due to the nature of the very stiff hill at Ballybrit.
There was something about the vibe given off by Weld after her last win that makes me think she could be a lot better than a Listed filly and I expect her to be competing at a higher level in the next few months.
Another new sport for me this week with the Rugby League Challenge Cup Final at Wembley on Saturday between Leeds Rhinos and Warrington Wolves and I’m opting for the former at 10-11 with an eight point start in our handicap betting.
The Wolves and Wigan have dominated the Super League this season but despite the Rhinos going into the final on a sour note after a defeat to the Catalan Dragons in Perpignan on Saturday, I think they can defy the eight point start.
Leeds found themselves 20 points adrift on the hour but showed a lot of character to eventually go down by four.
Thursday, York, 4.15 - Pale Mimosa
Thursday, Bellewstown, 6.30 - Mister Benedictine
Saturday, Wembley, 2.30 - Leeds Rhinos to beat Warrington Wolves with an eight point start