Buzz, heavily-backed, authoritative winner under champion jockey Oisin Murphy, of the Newmarket Cesarewitch over two and a quarter miles last month, was again impressive when landing a fiercely-competitive grade two Ascot Hurdle over a similar distance last Saturday and my immediate thought process was an opportune ante-post bet on the Champion Hurdle around Cheltenham next March.
Computation of this latest success for the seven-year-old grey Motivator gelding had me tingling; ‘I’ll back him for the Prestbury Park classic and then alert trainer Nicky Henderson to the ‘no brainer’ after a decent investment’; I was unsuccessful because Buzz hasn’t even been entered for the first day feature next March!
The former Champion trainer has 2020 winner Epatante among 28 listings, which include Honeysuckle and Sharjah, but it will come as no surprise if Buzz, significantly three times a winner over the minimum NH trip, isn’t subsequently supplemented. He travels magnificently and is probably at his physical zenith.
Thoroughbred form is all about ‘travelling’ in my book and Nico de Boinville must have known his partner was galloping all over four rivals around the famous Berkshire course where he led at the last before storming clear of Song For Someone to score by three and a quarter lengths, in a matter of strides.
Many scribes were immediately of the opinion Buzz will be best suited by the three miles World Hurdle but how often has two miles been underestimated?
At grade one level the Gloucestershire course is the supreme test, ideal for Buzz; he comfortably matched the March time-figure of Honeysuckle and will be my nap if indeed he lines up for the ‘big’ un’ next March.
Nicky please don’t be influenced by those who know not what they are suggesting!
Bravemansgame also ‘travelled’ at Haydock on the same afternoon, into every notebook of serious chasing punters when Paul Nicholls’ charge spreadeagled a quality field; the current Champion trainer gave notice of his opinion after the six-year-old scored at Newton Abbot last month.
Nicholls must not to be underestimated, his judgement is never clouded; Paul doesn’t reckon his geese are swans but Bravemansgame, an extremely useful staying hurdler, was magnificent around the Lancashire course which places firm emphasis on the art of jumping tough fences. He never touched a twig and won ‘pulling a cart!’
The new season is rapidly coming alive but, unfortunately, is in a beleaguered state due to lack of steeplechasing competition.
Nicholls maintains there aren’t enough horses for the races and certainly doesn’t seem optimistic about ‘field’ numbers growing if and when the current dry spell finally results in softer ground.
A worrying situation without doubt, the reason why I’m obsessed, for professional punting purposes, with all-weather flat/set-weight hurdles racing which has yielded six winners from the last nine selections!
Selections, Sedgefield, 12.40 Kavanaghs Cross; Wolverhampton, 4.30 Flamborough (e.w); 5.30 Originator (e.w).
Jeffrey Ross, horse-racing correspondent for WMN since 1983 when winning the most prestigious racing journalist award, Sporting Life Naps Table, before winning it a record number of six times collectively in the Racing Post, the current ‘trade’ paper, including 2019