Weights & Measures: Tent pitch
My Tent Or Yours drops half a stone in the weights – Ben Linfoot ponders whether he'll return to handicaps in his latest Weights & Measures.
My Tent Or Yours: Down half a stone to 155
My Tent dropped half a stone
My Tent Or Yours >>>> Down 7lb to 155
My Tent Or Yours was disappointing in the Betfair Price Rush Hurdle at Haydock on Saturday. He settled well and found nothing and ran a long way below his best.
However, the handicapper has taken a real chance in dropping him 7lb to 155. And if going back down the handicap route wasn't on the radar for connections pre-Haydock, it surely will be now.
A mark of 155 is just 6lb higher than when he won the Betfair Hurdle by five lengths on the bridle in 2013 and a return to Newbury for that big pot must now come under consideration for JP McManus' horse. I'm sure his owner wouldn't balk at such an idea.
On Saturday there was enough there to suggest the old ability remains. He travelled really well and, though he found nothing when asked, the slow pace and the very testing ground are two viable excuses.
True, he goes perfectly well in soft conditions, but Haydock heavy is a different test altogether. On his only previous run on 'heavy' he was beaten in a Newbury hurdle when sent off 4/11. I'd be happy to put a line through Saturday's run.
Better ground, a bigger field and a bit of time and we could well see the old My Tent. It wouldn't be a surprise if connections protected his new mark until at least February.
It must be a more appealing option than potentially ruining such a gift by finishing second to 'Willie Mullins' selected' in the Christmas Hurdle at Kempton.
Or would you rather be all over the Moon?
Moon Racer >>>> New entry at 141
Those of you who excel at simple maths will have already deduced that My Tent Or Yours won the Betfair Hurdle off a mark of 149 when he was an up-and-coming star in the novice hurdling division.
With that in mind, the David Pipe team might well be delighted with an initial mark of 141 for their Moon Racer, who took his tally to two from two over timber when he won the Sky Bet Supreme Trial Novices' Hurdle on the Sunday of Cheltenham's Open meeting.
That too was a tactical race and Moon Racer was well placed, but the former Champion Bumper winner looks an exciting addition to the hurdling ranks and Pipe was pleased enough to mention a Champion Hurdle entry after his latest Cheltenham win.
The Sky Bet Supreme still looks the more likely option, though, according to his trainer. My Tent took the Betfair on the way to finishing second in the Supreme, so perhaps the big Newbury pot will be considered as a potentially lucrative stop-off point on the way to the Festival.
If it is the plan, Moon Racer will have to run a third time over hurdles prior to Newbury to qualify for the race. An ordinary novice hurdle where he goes off at something like 1/7 would probably do the job of getting him qualified and protecting his mark.
Whatever the plan for Moon Racer, connections will have a keen eye on the Fighting Fifth this weekend, as the horse he beat easily at Cheltenham, Mirsaale, could line up at Newcastle.
Perhaps then we'll have something of an idea if a mark of 141 underestimates Moon Racer's ability at this stage of his hurdling career. Already, the gut feeling says it does.
While we're on two-mile hurdlers…
North Hill Harvey >>>> up 6lb to 147
Ch'tibello >>>> up 1lb to 145
Dan Skelton has cherry picked a couple of high-profile hurdles already this season and he could have more waiting in the wings with the likes of Meet The Legend and Mister Miyagi likely to be out in the coming weeks.
North Hill Harvey won the StanJames.com Greatwood Hurdle on the Sunday of Cheltenham's Open meeting, taking a handicap at his first attempt in the sphere. He travelled really well and was given a really strong ride by Harry Skelton after the last to see off Modus.
The son of Kayf Tara jumped the final obstacle like a chaser and Skelton reiterated that would be his game next year, but he'll still be competitive in handicap hurdles off his new mark of 147 on this evidence.
Given he likes Cheltenham, perhaps he'll be campaigned towards the County Hurdle at the Festival, a race Skelton won last season with Greatwood second Superb Story.
As for Ch'tibello, he missed the Greatwood but made up for that absence when winning the Betfair Price Rush Hurdle, the race in which the aforementioned My Tent Or Yours was third.
It just goes to show what the handicapper thought of the race as, while My Tent Or Yours was dropped 7lb, Ch'tibello went up just 1lb for winning.
Skelton talked of the Christmas Hurdle for Ch'tibello in the aftermath of Haydock, but that was on the presumption the handicapper would rule him out of races like the Ladbroke (sorry, Wessex Youth Trust Handicap Hurdle) with a hefty hike.
He hasn't, and though Skelton has Meet The Legend for Ascot, it wouldn't be a surprise were he to have a second string to his bow now.
Champion Chase race hots up
Fox Norton >>>> up 6lb to 167
Sire De Grugy >>>> up 6lb to 166
With no Sprinter Sacre to worry about there has been a bit of shuffling around in the two-mile chasing division.
Firstly, Fox Norton continued Colin Tizzard's stellar start to the season with an authoritative victory in the Shloer Chase at Cheltenham, the race that will be remembered as Simonsig's last.
He did it all very easily and a 6lb rise to 167 puts him right in the Champion Chase picture, even if the looming presence of his Arkle conqueror, Douvan, casts a shadow over the rest of the ante-post market.
The possibility of Douvan stepping up in trip will be keeping everyone in the Champion Chase picture interested, though, and that includes Sire De Grugy who bounced right back to form with a win in the Shawbrook Handicap Chase off a mark of 160 at Ascot on Saturday.
Giving 6lb and a five-length beating to Vaniteux, who would probably have been second in the Arkle had he stayed on his feet, was a really good effort and one that shows Sire De Grugy still has the class to have a say in the top two-mile races.
Gary Moore has gone on record several times saying Cheltenham isn't his track, even if he did win a Champion Chase there by six lengths in his pomp, but 25/1 about him for the Queen Mother isn't the worst price in the world considering it could be a very open year if Douvan sidesteps the contest.
Deep down, though, it's unlikely isn't it? A much more attainable target could be the Tingle Creek at Sandown, a track we know he loves.
He's 6/1 for a third Tingle in a few places in a few weeks' time and that looks a perfectly fair price, given he will run if all is well, while several others towards the head of the ante-post betting are far from likely to turn up.
Time to get behind Behind
Behind Time >>>> up 13lb to 128
In a Cheltenham eyecatchers piece written just after the Open meeting I highlighted Harry Fry's Behind Time, who sauntered to an easy victory in the Conditional Jockeys' Handicap Hurdle on the Sunday of the Open meeting despite wandering around after the last.
The handicapper didn't miss him, sticking him up 13lb to a new mark of 128, and considering his hike he'll have to be somewhere near as progressive as Unowhatimeanharry, his stablemate who won the same Cheltenham handicap last season before progressing right through to winning the Albert Bartlett.
Staying trips look like being Behind Time's forte too and he has four entries this week, all either Thursday or Friday, with three of them being over three miles at Taunton, Doncaster and Newbury, while he has a 2m5f option at Towcester.
We await his next appearance with interest.
Hot Hobbs hits Haydock high
Royal Regatta >>>> up 9lb to 158
Kruzhlinin >>>> up 7lb to 143 (hurdles)
Three Faces West >>>> up 12lb up to 147
A cross-card treble ignited Philip Hobbs' season on Saturday with the Minehead handler plundering a couple of the feature races from Haydock and Ascot.
Royal Regatta was the lowest-rated horse in the field and he got the better of some big names in the Stella Artois 1965 Chase in Berkshire, making all and jumping well before holding on from the rallying Kylemore Lough.
Up 9lb to 158, he could be tough to place, although this shows he's at his best when allowed to dominate at a right-handed track. A similar scenario could see him go well again.
Over at Haydock, Hobbs landed a double for the Rooneys with the gutsy Kruzhlinin handling conditions best to land the Betfair Exchange 'Fixed Brush' Handicap Hurdle under Richard Johnson.
The horse was taking advantage of a lower hurdles mark and up to 143 in that sphere, he's now just 3lb shy of his chase rating. These mini fences might've done his confidence the world of good and I'd expect he'd go back over the bigger obstacles now.
While Kruzhlinin looks certain to still be competitive when he returns to chasing, a 12lb hike might make things difficult for Three Faces West.
He dominated from the front in first-time cheekpieces, and won by 13 lengths, but this was a small field and everything went his way.
His new mark of 147 will require a serious step up in his next handicap and it remains to be seen if he's progressive enough to deal with such an increase.