Matt Chapman looks ahead to the Charlie Hall and the return of Britain's top-rated chaser Cyrname
EVEN the most devout believers must be struggling in this time of Covid-19 life destruction.
But belief is what you will need this afternoon if you are going to back Britain's highest rated chaser Cyrname in the feature race on ITV at Wetherby.
Cyrname returns to action in the Grade 2 bet365 Charlie Hall Chase, and on ratings he has at least 13lb in hand of his rivals, despite those including the talented Vinndication and Sam Spinner as well as defending champion Ballyoptic.
But when summing up the chances of Paul Nicholls' star you have to take into account he's going left handed – having been almost always kept to right-handed tracks – and tackling a distance further than many think he wants.
Nicholls might well need faith. I suspect this morning he might even have his Bible out and start reading Romans 14: 1-23.
There it says: "As for the one who is weak in faith, welcome him, but not to quarrel over opinions."
Now that's all well and good, but Nicholls is a passionate man who wears his heart on his sleeve.
I find it hard to believe he will just walk away quietly from those who might say he's gone bonkers with this Wetherby plan.
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Look, Cyrname has tried three miles once in his life and that was in the King George at Kempton going the way round he loves, and he was defeated by Clan des Obeaux.
But there is no Clan des Obeaux in this line-up and it might be his class pulls him through. Let's face it, many of these are going to come off the bridle trying to match Cyrname over the first mile or so, and that might be enough to get them defeated.
That said, I have to take Cyrname on as a punter as I'm still not convinced he deserves the rating he has, which came when he thrashed Waiting Patiently at Ascot in February 2019.
Before you blow up Paul, remember Romans 14! Vinndication and Sam Spinner are both horses I adore. For me, there's a bit of of Master Oats about the former, who is handled by Kim Bailey, who is one of those naughty trainers (in the best possible sense) who often makes me smile.
Bailey is also a class act, having landed a Grand National, Gold Cup and Champion Hurdle in his career.
Sam Spinner is the stable star of Jedd O'Keeffe, and is a delight to watch. He was a class staying hurdler, and took well to fences last season.
In both cases this is in many ways D-Day, although both trainers will expect their charge to improve for the outing. If either score connections will be dreaming of Gold Cup success.
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As for betting, I'm going to have a few quid each-way on Ballyoptic, who hasn't the class of Cyrname but who will keep slogging away for Nigel Twiston-Davies.
This could be Ballyoptic's prime target, and in Sam Twiston-Davies I know I have a jockey on my side who will keep on pumping.
Also at Wetherby on ITV4 is the Stayers' Hurdle hero Lisnagar Oscar, trained by the feisty Rebecca Curtis. We get back to belief here, as many feel the seven-year-old's success at Cheltenham was a fluke and mainly down to the flop effort of Paisley Park.
I'm not so sure though. Lisnagar Oscar had already shown glimmers that he was about to shine, including when less than five lengths behind Paisley Park in the Grade 2 Cleeve Hurdle.
As a novice, Lisnagar Oscar was also not far behind Champ and was fifth to Minella Indo in the Albert Bartlett Novices' Hurdle. What I am saying is that Curtis's monster is a decent animal, but he's not being given the credit he deserves.
That means he's a bigger price Saturday than his form suggests he should be. That said, I might be wrong!
The jumps is well and truly upon us, but next week the Flat Jockeys' Championship will be done and dusted and I remain convinced Oisin Murphy will land his second title despite a fine late rattle by William Buick.
Both are likely to be in action at the Breeders' Cup at Keenelend next weekend, although because of the Covid situation it will be the first Breeders' Cup I have not been to for many years.
I'm confident, though, this time next year I will be at Del Mar. You see, you have to be a believer.
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