PICKS FOR MARCH 20, 2009
3: DOVE HILL
The Brightwells National Hunt Sale at Cheltenham has grown in
importance over recent years, primarily because of the remarkable
success enjoyed by horses that have fetched high prices. Pretty much all
the 22 that had previous experience which sold for more than 50,000 from
2004 (as far back as their web site data goes) went on to do really
well. And seven of the twenty two won first time out for their new
Here we have a very interesting 59,000 pound purchase at Brightwells'
January sale making its first start under rules. The horse in question
is former point to pointer Dove Hill who won both his starts between the
flags comfortably (though he got disqualified from the first one on
This is a really weak maiden hurdle where Dove Hill faces a motley
crew of rivals that have run a total of 57 times between them under
various disciplines without ever winning. It seems to me that he has a
great shot of continuing the fine run of recent graduates from the
Brightwells sale for a trainer that has a very good record with new
3.45 Gowran Park
3: J'Y VOLE (NAP - i.e. double the normal stake)
This race features a whole bunch of ageing former stars that are
attempting a revival after a long series of losses. They're running
against a young, lightly raced Grade 1 winner that has a terrific record
when coming into a race off a break as she does today.
I don't think there's much point trying to find excuses for the
lengthy losing runs of Central House, Conna Castle, Tumbling Dice and
Publican. Sure, they were all Grade 1 class or close to it in their
heyday. But now much the most likely explanation for their loss of form
is that they've deteriorated with age due to physical problems.
Here they face one of the best chasing mares in training in J'Y Vole.
After she'd won her first two starts by a distance last season I
suggested on my web site that J'Y Vole probably needed resting. My
reasons for saying this were threefold. First she's a light-framed sort
and such horses are invariably best fresh. Second, her wins had all come
on one of her first two starts off a six month plus break or with a rest
of at least six weeks thereafter. Third, she is one of those horses that
seems incapable of running a slow time, even when she doesn't have to.
Horses that do this invariably take a lot out of themselves and need
their runs spacing out.
J'Y Vole did manage to win one more time but then ran below form in
her subsequent three outings.
You could argue that the two month gaps J'Y Vole had before her last
couple of starts should have been enough. But I suspect that those four
tough races in January and February took their toll to the point where
she needed resting for longer, which she now has been. And there were
other excuses for the losses anyway. One was over three quarters of a
mile longer than she'd ever been before and she clearly didn't stay. The
other was a decent third in a Grade 1 where she did well seeing that she
got involved in a duel for the lead with the useful Perce Rock.
In any event, J'Y Vole comes into this race off a nine month break.
So she really should be at her best. And her best should be more than
good enough to take this.