Ashforth’s Angles: given the chance we would change

Might Bite: a 3-1 chance for the RSA Chase at the Cheltenham Festival

PICTURE: Martin Lynch (racingpost.com/photos) Given the chance we
would all make changes By David Ashforth 6:00PM 8 MAR 2017

GIVEN another go most of us would do some things differently.

For instance, a boy at my school protested at the suet pudding by first refusing to eat it and then, when pressed, hurling it against a wall. It was a spectacular display which made him a hero among fellow diners but also led, inevitably in those days, to a thrashing. Even so, I wish he'd done the same with the semolina; dreadful stuff.

Given a second chance, Napoleon would study the weather forecast more carefully before invading Russia, Humpty Dumpty wouldn't sit on that wall and William Huskisson MP would make a point of checking to see whether or not George Stephenson'sRocket was about to run into him during the opening of the Liverpool – Manchester Railway in 1830.

Similarly, given another go on Might Bite at Kempton on Boxing Day, Daryl Jacob might adopt a different, less aggressive strategy after the second last fence. If Might Bite hadn't fallen at the last Nicky Henderson's strapping eight-year-old would have won imperiously.

Made favourite for the RSA Chase, Might Bite was given a confidence booster in a three horse race at Doncaster last month, which he won as easily as he was entitled to. One's view of his price for Cheltenham, currently around 3-1, depends partly on one's opinion of his jumping at Doncaster.

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After ambling into and being hesitant at the first fence, Might Bite, the proverbial "every inch a chaser," jumped most fences well and put in some fine, athletic leaps.

Yet at four successive mid-race obstacles he was awkward. If he is similarly awkward in the heat of the RSA Chase it could be disastrous. 3-1 isn't attractive and while I'll be sitting on the fence, if forced to get off it I'd lay Might Bite. I hope that helps.

Simon Claisse - Cheltenham

Simon Claisse: sure to be keeping an eye on the skies

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

Weather watching

Meanwhile, the racing community will be doing what it spends a lot of its time doing, looking at the sky and the weather forecast, both of which are of limited value in predicting what the going will be at Cheltenham on Tuesday.

Between now and then racecourses offer a range of going although the range is mainly between heavy and soft. As it's forecast to be predominantly dry on the run up to the big day, I expect the meeting will start on ground described as good to soft, sticky in places and open to a range of interpretations.

The going at Carlisle, Wincanton and Thurles on Thursday is predicted to be heavy all round, although trainers seem to be more concerned about the heavy at Carlisle than anywhere else, as the seven races have attracted only 36 horses. On the one hand, no race is worth as much as £5,000 to the winner; on the other hand, three horses will collect a total of £1,192.50 for finishing last.

It's different at Meydan, where the going on the dirt track is fast and no race is worth less than £19,824 to the winner, including for 60-74 and 65-77 handicaps.

Another world.

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