Promising chasing debut despite unsuitable test
Change in tactics may be sensible
Mighty Tom is overpriced at Cheltenham
Ballybreeze was the obvious starting point for this two-mile handicap chase given he looks capable of being a fair bit better than his mark of 120 but the early market hasn't missed that as he's now favourite. Given he's jumped out to the right on a few occasions in his two starts over fences on left-handed tracks, I'm happy to let him go at 3/14.00.
He's one horse who will likely benefit from a good pace and another is Coastguard Stationm, who I think is currently overpriced. He's typically held up and travels strongly into races but the tricky part is timing the effort right as he doesn't always find as much as looks likely once asked for his effort.
He ran well behind Haddex Des Obeaux when there was some cut in the ground at Doncaster last season and will only race off 2lb higher today while the winner has since gone up 20lb.
Coastguard Station followed that with a defeat at Southwell, where I think he got there a bit sooner than ideal, and then ran well at Ayr when given a lot to do and he finished strongly to take third.
The 2m4f trip proved too far for him at Uttoxeter on his latest start over fences in May when he cruised into contention and the return to two miles over fences today should be ideal for him.
He's had a run over hurdles that will likely have put him spot on for this and while there is a slight concern over the ground, he's run well with cut in the ground before so hopefully he won't have a problem with the conditions. Any 14/115.00 or bigger appeals.
JPR One put in a decent performance when winning on chasing debut at Newton Abbot last month but I'm a bit surprised that he's quite so short for this race. Iceo dropped away quickly that day while Monviel seemed to lose a little confidence with his jumping from an early stage and never seemed to be travelling particularly well after that.
JPR One did look capable of being a better horse early in his career than he's currently turned out to be and maybe he just needs fences to fulfil his early potential but I'm looking elsewhere at the prices.
Mighty Tom was thrown into Graded company for his chasing debut at Cork last time and despite racing over a trip that was further than ideal and going the 'wrong' way round for him, he put up a very encouraging performance.
He was held up in a detached last and jumped out to the left on quite a few occasions. He closed to be on the back of the main pack jumping four out and made significant headway once turning into the home straight to jump three out about a length behind the leader in third. Mighty Tom was still travelling well going to two out and jumped that upsides Letsbeclearaboutit but once asked for his effort he couldn't go with the leader and was ten lengths behind him at the line.
Letsbeclearaboutit looks very smart so I think Mighty Tom did well to get as close to him as he did in the unfavourable circumstances. It was also encouraging that while he did jump out to the left, his jumping was generally slick so now he's back on a left-handed track I'm hoping he will jump straighter.
An unknown in this four runner contest is who will make the running and given that he's raced keenly in the past and has successfully made all for his previous yard, hopefully the front running role will go to Mighty Tom. If that does turn out to be the case, he could gain a significant tactical advantage as a result and his rivals could find him tough to catch if he's in the same form he was at Cork.
There is a concern that they won't make the running with him and he could end up being keen if they don't go particularly quick, as was the case in the Galway Hurdle when he eventually pulled his way to the front. He's also not always looked the most straightforward off the bridle but I think he should at least be closer to JPR One in the market given the quality of Mighty Tom's chasing debut and any 2/13.00 or bigger appeals.
Captain Teague is a short-priced favourite for this Grade 2 novices' hurdle on the back of a success in the Persian War when I thought he looked in need of the run beforehand.
That perhaps showed approaching the last and he ended up winning well despite that so he's likely to be tough to beat today. The one concern that still lingers with him is that he's looked to hang left under pressure and did so again to some extent at Chepstow so he might end up away from what is often the favoured near rail in the straight at this meeting when there's some cut in the ground. He could win comfortably but there are a couple at big prices who make some appeal.
Moonovercloon will be making his fourteenth start over hurdles and his more battle-hardened nature could see him run better than his big price suggests against less experienced rivals.
He improved through the summer in handicap hurdles in Ireland and ran well for a long way off 132 in a Pertemps qualifier at Cheltenham last month. His jumping often lacked fluency but he travelled well at the head of the chasing group behind Flight Deck on the run to two out before another mistake halted his momentum a little and he didn't quite see out the three mile trip in finishing fifth.
The drop back in trip today should suit and I'm hoping he can put in a better round of jumping, as he's shown himself capable of in the past. There is a concern that his jockey can't claim his usual 7lb as it's a Grade 2 but I would have him closer in the market to the rest of the Irish challenge than is currently the case and any 16/117.00 or bigger appeals.
A first for this column in backing a horse at 1000999/1 on the Exchange and it may appear that I've completely lost the plot in backing a horse to win a Grade 2 that was pulled up in a hunter chase on his only start under rules.
However, there are reasons to think Supreme Commander could be capable of much better than he showed that day at Exeter. That run came at the start of Syd Hosie's training career. Prior to that, his horses had frequently moved from the care of one trainer to the next and naturally it seemed to take him a little while to figure things out with five of his first six runners under rules being pulled up, Supreme Commander being one of those five, and those that completed were well beaten.
However, Hosie soon figured it out as he had three hunter chase winners towards the end of the season in that sphere, including with Coup De Pinceau who had been one of those horse that had previously been well beaten for him. Therefore, it wouldn't be a surprise if Supreme Commander's poor performance at Exeter was due to the bedding in period for Hosie as a trainer.
Supreme Commander also jumped quite poorly that day so the switch back to hurdles could see him in a better light and given that he's had a 605-day break since that race, it might be that he had a physical issue that was a factor in the poor run too.
Prior to that, he had shown a good level of ability in the Irish pointing field. He made his debut in that sphere at the end of December 2021 and ran well to finish second behind Weveallbeencaught who has gone on to be rated 135 over hurdles and fences. Back in third that day was Tightenourbelts, who is now rated 136 over fences, while in fourth was Mister Who, who was second off 115 earlier this week to the well handicapped Oxygen.
It might be that whatever has kept Supreme Commander off the track for 605 days means he doesn't retain the ability he once had and he might need the ground to be very testing, as it was on his debut, to show his true ability but I can't let a horse who split two horses now rated in the mid-130s two starts ago go unbacked at 1000999/1 on the Exchange even in a Grade 2 and I think he's worth having something on at any 100/1101.00 or bigger.