Daryl Carter Tips

Cheltenham Festival Focus: 10/1 Skelton Grey is up to Brown Advisory challenge

Daryl Carter.
Daryl Carter says Dan Skelton's Grey has strong Novice Grade 1 credentials.

It's week 10 of Daryl Carter's Cheltenham Festival Focus. He added two selections to his ante-post list, adding a cover on a previous selection and was seriously impressed with a Brown Advisory runner...

  • Lawlor's winner could be a very smart Novice for Mullins

  • Cover on Mystical Power for the Supreme

  • Back 10/111.00 Grey Dawning for the Brown Advisory

Action roundup

Quilixios got back on track with a 2m Novice Chase victory at Naas on Friday 12 January. He is now 20/121.00 for the Arkle. His jumping had been unreliable before this victory, and there's a lack of depth to this performance. He wouldn't interest me for win purposes, but he is a nice horse. Mister Policeman - now 50/151.00 for the Arkle - was bitterly disappointing again, and he is not up to Grade 1 level.

On Saturday at Kempton, Kalif Du Berlais won the opening Juvenile race in fine style. The Paul Nicholls French recruit looked very good on the eye.

This was a trademark Harry Cobden ride, going fast early on, slowing it down mid-race and then kicking on for home. He recorded an almost identical (narrowly slower) circuit time to the following Novice Hurdle won by Gentle Slopes. Perhaps not as electric as it looked. Still, Nicholls has said he is NOT a Triumph Hurdle 20/121.00 horse, so be aware he may not run.

Don't read Lawlor's winner Tommy wrong!

The Grade 1 Lawlor's Of Naas was the most important race of the week and the winner Readin Tommy Wrong - now 7/18.00 for the Ballymore - is best not to be underestimated despite being relatively unfancied in the market and resulting an SP of 16/117.00.

Ile Atlantique and stablemate Chapeau Du Soleil wanted to grab the early lead, but the latter jumped poorly and saw him at the rear of the field in moments. The immediate conclusion to draw on Chapeau De Soleil is that he cannot cope with a well-run race at this point in his career and needs more experience - if you like him for the festival, I would be concerned.

Ile Atlantique set strong fractions, built the race up from the first hurdle leading out into the back straight, and continued to quicken right to the line.

Compared to the rest of the races run on the card, the 2m circuit time of the Lawlor's Of Naas dwarfed anything else on the day by a minimum of 24 lengths.

The closest circuit time came from the 86-rated Simply Shabra in the 2m handicap, and Tullyhill fans won't want to read that he was 30.64 lengths slower than the Grade 1 contest's circuit time.

Interestingly, the three out-to-finish times of the Grade 1 Lawlors Of Naas clocked quicker than the two handicaps on the card and almost identical to Tullyhill. From the back of the last to the line, Ile Atlantique and Readin Tommy Wrong narrowly slower than Tullyhill.

The Lawlor's Of Naas was a proper test run at an excellent even gallop, and no horses should have had any excuses given how tightly bunched the seven runners were. Given the field's proximity, it would be hard to argue that the leader, Ile Atlantique, went too hard, given the eventual winner was never more than four lengths away and clocked a narrowly faster circuit time doing marginally better work from three out to the finish.

Ile Atlantique improved on any previous form in defeat at Naas, and he is a smart horse, but his future might lay over fences. He travels exceptionally well but can't find a good deal when asked. However, he didn't evade a battle here. According to the clock, he kept up his gallop but bumped into a better horse.

His trainer mentioned the Supreme Novice Hurdle for Ile Atlantique during the aftermath, for which he is 20/121.00, and that looks a little big on this evidence.

Readin Tommy Wrong is just the type to be underestimated on the back of his SP. This was one of the better times I have recorded for the entire season for Novice Hurdlers.

He took hold early in the race and didn't jump fluently for much of the contest, but he never looked out of his comfort zone. The fact that he could travel so effortlessly through this contest marks him down as a very useful prospect.

He lost ground and nearly every hurdle, but he was immediately back on terms once given a shake of the reigns. He travelled the best into the home straight and found plenty for pressure, easily out-pacing Firefox and Lecky Watson, and he was strong at the finish.

The conclusion is that the cream rose to the top in this contest, and there could be stacks of improvement from the winner, who still looked a little green throughout. Readin Tommy Wrong is a big player in the Baring Bingham, particularly given he could have won this much easier without losing the ground at his hurdles.

Jockey Daryl Jacob, after the race, suggested Reading Tommy Wrong "rode like a three miler". Willie Mullins has not sent a winner of this in the last ten years to the Albert Bartlett, and there's no reason why he should go up further in trip on this evidence.

His jumping would need to improve, but the Baring Bingham looks the more obvious route, and there is plenty of 9.417/2 about him on the Betfair Exchange.

This could be a very smart Novice.

How do this year's Novice hurdlers compare to recent years?

Usually, the common denominators for winning a Supreme Novice Hurdle are as follows:

  • A Grade 1 victory puts you at the top of the tree
  • A Grade 2 victory is a minimum
  • Horses rated 150 plus have an excellent chance, and those rated higher will nearly always be victorious.
  • Have had no less than three runs
  • And RPR's last time out of 145 plus, but ideally 149 plus

The last ten Supreme winners' RPR ratings before the DRF and Supreme Novices

Marine Nationale - 147
Constitution Hill - 152
Appreciate It - 150
Shishkin - 154
Klassical Dream - 145
Summerville Boy - 150
*Labaik - 48
Altior - 157
Douvan - 149
Vautour - 150

By this time last year, we had already seen Marine Nationale do a 147, Facile Vega 154, Irish Point 146, Il Etait Temps 145, Tahmuras 144 and Inthepocket 143.

This season, the highest RPR for a Novice Hurdler over 2m is Caldwell Potter at 149, followed by It's For Me at 141 (NR) and King Of Kingsfield at 137. The rest are well behind.

There's certainly a lack of quality for the Novice Hurdlers in the 2m division this year, and we highlighted this could be the case in week one. Furthermore, the English don't look any better, except for the promise that Jeriko Du Reponet may hold.

The 2 1/2 mile division is similar.

The last ten Baring Bingham winners' RPR ratings before the DRF and the Baring Bingham Novices

Impaire Et Passe - 149
Sir Gerhard - 135
Bob Olinger - 152
Envoi Allen - 155
*City Island - 128
Samcro - 158
Willoughby Court - 150
Yorkhill - 152
Windsor Park - 142
Faugheen - 149

By this time last year, Gaelic Warrior had an RPR of 155, Impaire Et Passe 149, Champ Kiely 149, Irish Point 146 and Hermes Allen 150.

This year sees Ballyburn 145, Captain Teague 144, Il Atlantique 133 (awaiting Lawlor's rating, but I'd guess 144), Reading Tommy Wrong 116 (awaiting Lawlor's rating, but I'd guess 144), Gidleigh Park 135 and Firefox 135.

The Novice division in Ireland has not relied upon a big performance at the Dublin Racing Festival any more than it will do this year to enhance its chances.

The long and short of it is the Novices are a below-par bunch at the time of writing.

Back Mystical Power for the Supreme Novice Hurdle @ 14/115.00 1pt

Typically, we have seen all we need from the Novices by this point, as highlighted above. I can conclusively say there is no standout, so I am banking on a big performance from Mystical Power on Sunday in the Moscow Flyer.

The Moscow Flyer doesn't look deep, but Lambron sets a good standard, having recorded a good figure at Thurles 45 days ago, and the third from that race has since chased home Elixir D'ainay. Outside of that, the form is a bit suspect from Lambron, so his chances against what I think could be an excellent horse in Mystical Power should be relatively weak.

Jigoro and James's Gate bring a certain level of form to the race, but I expect the Willie Mullins runner to put these to bed readily.

Therefore, I want to cover our Ballymore selection in the Supreme. While the yard did win this with a subsequent Ballymore winner in Impaire Et Passe, and all of their winners have gone straight to the festival bar one, the 2m entry at the Dublin Racing Festival does concern me that his lack of experience may see him follow the footsteps of Vautour.

We already have Jeriko Du Reponet in the book, so I see no reason we shouldn't get this one in at his current 14/115.00. The Supreme Novice Hurdle looks like a real mess. We have the "potential" angle with Jeriko Du Reponet, but outside of him, if Ballyburn heads to the Ballymore, there is no depth to this race.

Willie Mullins is a creature of habit. His only Moscow Flyer winner to run in the Ballymore (Impaire Et Passe) had already run over further than 2m. He might see that there is little reason to move up in distance with Mystical Power, with many holding similar chances in the Ballymore, so I want to be sure we have him covered if, and it is an if, he proves to be as good as I think he could be.

Granted, a poor showing on Sunday in the Moscow Flyer costs us two points but would also bolster the claims of Jeriko Du Reponet in this 2m division.

The risk-to-reward scenario seems correct at 14/115.00.

Back Grey Dawning for the Brown Advisory Novice Chase @ 10/111.00 1pt

The performance that impressed me most this week was that of Grey Dawning in the Grade 2 Novices Chase. Sent off the 5/42.25 favourite, Harry Skelton was happy to settle in behind the front-running Apple Away and Broadway Boy - the only other two in contention on the turn for home.

The Grade 2 contest and the Veterans Chase over the same distance compared similarly for the early part of the contest. Still, it was notable that Apple Away and Broadway Boy went hard into the midsection of the race before settling for a breather and kicking again. Apple Away and Broadway Boy did too much too early, but the winner was never more than a handful of lengths away and would have gained little advantage from his racing position.

Grey Dawning had no trouble lying up with the relentless gallop. He jumped soundly in the main and crossed the line like a fresh horse despite jumping violently left at the final two flights.

This was not the complete pace collapse that many may think. It was a true test of stamina with a pause in the mid-section of the race, and Grey Dawning passed with flying colours, walloping the line hard.

The Skelton runner's finishing effort was very taking, and he looks some way the best of the British in the three-mile division, now having improved race-by-race.

There is little doubt that this 14-length victory was worthy of a rating close to 160, and this is the first time a horse in this division has put up such a number this season in my book.

The fact that he can be as effective over 2m4f marks him down as a smart performer, as it would prove challenging to find that evidence with horses like Stay Away Fay, for example. He has a good blend of speed and stamina. Surely, connections see him as a future Gold Cup contender.

His 10/111.00 for the Brown Advisory looks too big, and this horse has abundant stamina. I want him on side.

Back Grey Dawning to win the Brown Advisory @ 10/111.00

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Daryl's Ante-Post List

Back Salvator Mundi to win the Triumph Hurdle @ 14/115.00 1pt NOW 14/115.00

Back Sir Gino to win the Triumph Hurdle @ 16/117.00 1pt NOW 6/17.00

Back Irish Point to win the Stayers Hurdle @ 14/115.00 1pt NOW 5/16.00

Back Envoi Allen to win the Ryanair @ 14/115.00 1pt win NOW 6/17.00

Back Jeriko Du Reponet to win the Supreme Novice @ 12/113.00 1pt NOW 5/16.00

Back Better Days Ahead to win the Albert Bartlett @ 33/134.00 1pt NOW 40/141.00

Back Indiana Dream to win the Turners Novice Chase @ 10/111.00 1pt

Back Flooring Porter to win the Brown Advisory Novice Chase @ 14/115.00 1pt NOW 25/126.00

Back Mighty Bandit for the Triumph Hurdle @ 8/19.00 1pt win NOW 20/121.00

Back Mystical Power to win the Ballymore @ 25/126.00 1pt win NOW 8/19.00

Back Corbetts Cross to win the National Hunt Chase @ 20/121.00 1pt NOW 14/115.00

Back Mystical Power to win the Supreme Novice Hurdle @ 14/115.00 1pt NOW 4/15.00

Back Grey Dawning to win the Brown Advisory @ 10/111.00 1pt


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