Past Winners » Tidal Bay


Good that we backed Roalco De Farges yesterday. The 14/1 lasted for a while, it was even available after declarations, after the ante post market had closed and we were into the day-of-race market, but it is long gone now since Pricewise have put him up this morning. The case for him is as it was yesterday, and we have a decent bet. It is encouraging that Richard Johnson has come back from Punchestown to ride him. Hopefully he can get into a nice rhythm early on up towards the head of the field.

Rare Bob and Viking Blond and Dover’s Hill and Major Malarkey were also on my shortlist, but Pricewise have also put up Rare Bob, and a best-price of 14/1 now is just about right. Viking Blond is interesting, the only faller at the first fence in the Grand National, but he has to recover his early-season form, and 20/1 is no better than fair for that leap of faith. Also, Sam Twiston-Davies has chosen to ride Major Malarkey instead, and Willie Twiston-Davies, who takes the ride, apparently had a bad fall at Perth yesterday, which isn’t going to do a lot for his confidence around here.

The ground is probably going to be softer than ideal for Dover’s Hill, and Major Malarkey is just getting to be a little exposed now, up another 5lb for going agonisingly close in the Midlands National. He did run a cracker in this race last year, but that was on better ground, which I think he just favours.

The other horse on my shortlist was Tidal Bay and I am backing him. He is a really quirky character, that is well-known, but this extreme distance on easy ground might just do it for him, it might just slow everything down enough to allow him stay in touch and remain interested.

He hasn’t won in 11 runs since January 2010, but he was sixth in the 2011 Gold Cup, and he ran really well for him in the Argento Chase in January this year, getting left well out of his ground before staying on well up the hill to get to within three lengths of the winner Midnight Game.

He does have plenty of weight, but he has been dropped another 3lb since his run in the Denman Chase to a mark of 154, and that gives him a chance. Paul Nicholls said that he has been dying to try him over a marathon trip and that, combined with the soft ground, should be in his favour.

He is 11, but this is a good race for the oldies, with Monkerhostin and Church Island winning two of the last four renewals. Tidal Bay finished second to Master Minded in the Tingle Creek Chase on his last visit to Sandown, and, interestingly, his record at right-handed tracks is 11124. He hasn’t encountered ground this soft since he won the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham in January 2010, and it may just be that all of these factors will re-kindle his enthusiasm.

Of course, it may be that they won’t, and that he will run no race, but if he does fancy it, he is the classiest horse in the race by some way.

TIDAL BAY WON (ADV 12/1, SP 9/1)