There’s an old adage shared amongst parent’s about “the terrible twos” that 2yo’s are apparently more likely to throw tantrums and make their Mum’s and Dad’s wish they could wind the clock back a few months to a time when they could actually sleep.
I’m sure plenty of you reading this will be able to associate with what I’m talking about.
It’s unlikely that the saying can spread to horses, however, but when it comes to this weekend, it’s another phrase that comes to mind for me, “good things come in twos” …or is it threes?
Either way, there’s a special double that I wanted to let you know about and one that has had quite the opposite effect on me than those “terrible twos”.
I’ve done anything but want to wind the clocks back since the 28th October. In fact, I’ve been counting down the days.
That was, of course, the last time that Alcala was seen at a racecourse, but this Saturday he returns and I cannot wait.
Remarkably, the 28th October 2018 was also a day that I had two runners, with Rainbow Rebel finishing 3rd at Doncaster.
It’s amazing how history can repeat itself, as this Saturday, the same will happen again with Alcala competing in the Grade 2 Oaksey Chase at Sandown, while Rainbow Rebel will go in the 4:50pm at Haydock.
When I got involved with the Owners Group syndicate, I never thought things like this would happen. I thought having two runners on the same day was a luxury saved only for the big-time owners like JP McManus, Rich Ricci and Gigginstown.
Safe to say, the Parky string are out in full force this weekend. Even if I do only own an unbelievably small percentage when compared to some of those names above.
But enough of the chit-chat, have they got a chance of winning I hear you ask?
Rated 150 by the handicapper, it’s not going to be easy for Alcala this season, and this will arguably be his toughest test to date in the Oaksey Chase at Sandown.
It is the first time he will compete in a Graded race over fences, and he bumps into a couple of nice ones in Top Notch and Double Shuffle as well. Although he has swerved facing Cue Card, who was supposed to be running in this until he was retired earlier this month.
It will certainly be a test, and fingers crossed the rain showers that are forecast won’t be too heavy. He certainly wouldn’t want it any worse than soft.
With Paul Nicholls as his trainer, he’ll certainly be fit and fresh, which is good news when he is racing against other horses that have been on the go for some time.
The booking off Sam Twiston-Davies in the saddle is also big plus given that they got on so well last season, and I’d be over the moon with a top three.
He’ll certainly come on for the run, but he would need a career best to win this.
The Rebel returns after a few weeks rest following his first win since 2016 at Newcastle.
He was back down to a winnable handicap mark of 80 for that race, and only goes up 2lb for his first race back on turf since the Alcala/Rainbow Rebel double back in October.
I actually think he’s a much better horse on turf than he is on the all-weather and I think that will give him a cracking chance for his first trip to Haydock this weekend. Unlikely Alcala, he won’t mind the softer ground either.
1m 2½f is the trip, and that should be no problem given he was twice 2nd over similar distances at Redcar and Carlisle last season, albeit with a handicap mark of 87. That’s 5lb higher than he’ll race off at Haydock.
Joe Fanning also retains the ride after being onboard for the win in the North East, and barring in mind Rainbow Rebel has been freshened up for this, I think he’s a cracking each-way shout.
My Jumps Horse of the Year
Of course, this Saturday at Sandown is the curtain closer on the National Hunt season, and what a campaign it has been.
Stars have been born and others have cemented their place in jump’s racing history, it’s just a shame we have to wait a few months before it all comes properly alive again.
At least I have Alcala and a few trips to Cartmel to keep the buzz alive over the summer.
For what it is worth I’d thought I throw together a few lines on the horse I voted for in the Racing Post’s Jumps Horse of the Year, which will be announced at Sandown this weekend.
From a shortlist of Altior, Buveur D’Air, Might Bite, Native River, Politologue, Tiger Roll and Waiting Patiently, there was only ever one winner in my opinion…
The mighty TIGER ROLL.
It’s more for the storyline around backing him with a few mates in both his big victories this season than anything else, but still, he was an outstanding winner of both the Cross Country at Cheltenham and of course, my favourite race, the Grand National.
His versatility across his career is something quite extraordinary, and as one fan favourite in Cue Card will bow out with a parade at Sandown this Saturday, it’s only right that a new fan favourite is crowned in Tiger Roll.