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Captain Cee Bee

There was an awful lot to like about the performance that Captain Cee Bee put up on his chasing bow at Naas on Thursday. Settled by AP McCoy just behind the leaders, he was a little keen through the early stages of the race, and he was a little free at his fences, but the only semblance of a mistake that he made was when Save The Bacon jumped across him a little at the fence on the side of the track away from the stands. After that, he was really good. It was particularly impressive that he was so good, so effortless and accurate at the three fences at the bottom of the track as the pace was increasing. He was meeting the second last a bit wrong, but he shortened up nicely going into it. Between the last two fences, the three market leaders, Captain Cee Bee, Zaarito and An Cathaoir Mor, had it between them. McCoy saw a long stride at the last and asked Captain Cee Bee to come up, which he duly did. It gave him a significant advantage over his rivals, but there is still a fair pull from the last fence up to the line at Naas, and Zaarito challenged strongly, but the Eddie Harty-trained gelding stayed on resolutely all the way to the line to get home by a neck, McCoy not resorting to the whip until well inside the final 100 yards.

This was Captain Cee Bee’s first run since April 2008. The heavy ground would have been all against him and he was weak in the market beforehand, so it is probable that connections expected him to come on a fair bit for the run. This was a really good beginners’ chase. Zaarito was a top class bumper horse, he was favourite when third in Cousin Vinny’s Cheltenham Bumper having endured a rough passage through the race. His main difficulty has been in learning to settle through his races, but he settled well for Paul Townend on Thursday and he jumped well. Also, the front pair pulled clear of the very useful An Cathaoir Mor, the three horses at the top of the market dominated the race, and the time of the race was good, the fastest comparative time of the day, all of which suggests that the form of the race is rock solid.

It is surprising that you can still back Captain Cee Bee at 20/1 for the Arkle. He is eight years old and he has had his problems, but he is really lightly raced. He was a top class novice hurdler two seasons ago, he won a really hot Supreme Novices’ Hurdle in 2008, beating Binocular, giving him the four-year-old’s 8lb allowance, and the pair of them pulling clear of subsequent high class performers Snap Tie and Kalahari King in a time that was more than a second and a half faster than the time that it took Katchit to complete the same course and distance in the Champion Hurdle an hour later. He has Cheltenham form, he was a top class hurdler and he jumps fences well. The Arkle is shaping up to be a really hot race this season, with Sizing Europe, Somersby, Crack Away Jack, Tataniano, Osana and even Riverside Theatre and Sports Line all potentially top class chasers, but bookmakers may have missed a trick by leaving Captain Cee Bee at 20/1.

3rd December 2009