Salad can serve it up in Unicoin
Waldorf Salad can dish out a beating to his rivals in the Unicoin Group Handicap Chase at Cheltenham on Friday, says Ian Ogg.
Waldorf Salad chases home King's Odyssey at Cheltenham
The market for the Caspian Caviar Gold Cup is long established and the race was tackled by Matt Brocklebank in Antepost Angle who has King's Odyssey running for him.
The race will no doubt be revisited on these pages after declarations but a few firms have priced up Friday's Unicoin Handicap Chase and there looks to be plenty to work with in the staying handicap.
The betting is headed by Southfield Theatre who looked like landing the Badger Ales Trophy for this column only to fall at the last. Many of the arguments for getting him onside at Wincanton remain valid but there are more reasons to take him on at this stage, not least his price.
The eight-year-old is a best of 5/1 on the back of that fall but given he looked likely to win last time, the handicapper has dished out a 7lb rise while the ground is also likely to be more exacting than he would prefer. He could obviously brush aside all of those concerns but there are more appealing options at longer prices.
Of the others towards the head of the market, the going could also be an issue for A Good Skin while Cogry has failed to complete in three starts this season and the well-regarded Out Sam – sent off the 13/2 favourite for the Ultima Handicap Chase at the Festival – hardly sparkled on his return over hurdles.
Of course they are where they are in the betting for a reason but there are a number of runners at longer odds that are worth considering.
Perfect Candidate ran no race on his reappearance but he developed into a progressive stayer last term, winning over course and distance, and he could resume his progress if fully recovered from the ailments that troubled him at Bangor.
Bally Longford should be better suited by this trip than the two miles two furlongs he contested on debut for Colin Tizzard but the best of his form in Ireland came on top of the ground and even though the official going is currently 'good' it is likely to be a little sticky at this time of year.
There is also the chance of some rain later in the week according to forecasts and that could play into the hands of Waldorf Salad whose trainer Venetia Williams has won this race twice in recent seasons.
I'm not convinced that he's in the the same class as Mon Mome or Aachen but he is only eight years of age and could be open to further improvement this season. If he gets a run, he'll be towards the foot of the weights and those at the bottom of the handicap have tended to dominate with only one of the last 10 winners carrying more than 11-0.
He was pulled up in the National Hunt Chase at 66/1 but bounced back with a gritty success in a three-runner race at Chepstow. However, it's his run at Cheltenham last January that interests me most as that second to King's Odyssey was a fine effort (Festival winner Un Temps Pour Tout and Becher fifth One For Arthur were behind) and if the rain arrives, he will handle the testing conditions better than most and is worth a tickle at 16/1.
I also want to get Shantou Flyer onside as the six-year-old impressed with his jumping when winning a novice chase at this track for Colin Bowe thirteen months ago. He returned to somewhere near that level at the end of the season which means that he starts off for Rebecca Curtis on a career high mark with conditions potentially set to be a little more testing than ideal (although he has won on soft).
At just six, he has plenty of potential for improvement and the form of his course win didn't work out too badly with Vicente, A Good Skin, Vintage Vinnie and Ballykan among the beaten horses. Curtis is enjoying a decent season and this strong stayer looks an interesting recruit for the yard; he could make an instant impression.