There was relief at Ascot on Saturday when the stricken Cyrname got to his feet and the racing was not overshadowed by a tragic fatality. The horse was beaten in the Betfair Chase when he fell at the last fence, the same fate that befell Traffic Fluide. Riders Onthe Storm took advantage to record an easy win over the only other runner. He is now +800 with BetOnline to win the Ryanair Chase, but Cyrname has been taken out of the betting for that race with some bookmakers.
It looked like Traffic Fluide was coming to win the race before the mishap at the final fence. The horse crumpled on landing just as Cyrname had done at the same obstacle. Despite those two falls, Riders Onthe Storm still produced a decent ratings performance. However, the race on Saturday on soft ground was gruelling and the Ryanair Chase takes place in less than four weeks. The horse did have a hard race but the trainer, Nigel Twiston-Davies, is a past master at freshening up his horses.
Riders Onthe Storm has progressed from a Racing Post Rating (RPR) of 120 in November 2018 to a career high of 169 last December. The nature of the race on Saturday meant that the horse won off a mark of 162. However, Riders Onthe Storm is progressive and further improvement gets the horse in the mix for the Ryanair Chase. Min is the current ante-post betting favourite and has run to an RPR of 180. Riders Onthe Storm may struggle to match level at the Cheltenham Festival.
There were some key trials for the Grand National at the weekend, not least Tiger Roll’s run over hurdles at Navan on Sunday. It is an anomaly that the two-time winner has not qualified for this year’s National. The horse must complete a steeplechase to earn a place in the potentially historic race. Tiger Roll will be attempting to become the first horse to win the famous race in three successive years. He runs once qualified and Tiger Roll is now a best-priced +550 to make racing history.
Tiger Roll has top weight of 11-10, which means the horse carries 13 pounds more than Ballyoptic in the Grand National. That horse fell towards the end of the race last season and his best rating is not ground dependent. Ballyoptic was a good winner of the handicap chase at Ascot on Saturday and looks suited to the course and unique fences at Aintree. The run on Saturday suggests the horse is well-handicapped for the National, so the current price of +2800 at BetOnline may not last long.
The Haydock Grand National Trial has not provided many pointers to the big race in the last few years. Lord Du Mesnil jumped like he would take to the National fences and was not stopping at the end of after more than three-and-a-half miles on heavy going. This year’s race may be too soon for the seven-year-old, as the last winner at that age was in the 1940 race. However, it would not do much harm to have a small bet at +5000 odds.
One of the most impressive wins was for Cilaos Emery in Ireland. The horse was sent off at -400 and won like an odds-on favourite should. The ground did not play to the horse’s strengths and conditions will be better for the Champion Hurdle at Cheltenham. Cilaos Emery needs to be supplemented for the race, but it does look open this year. That costs money and the owners would expect a return with some prize money. Cilaos Emery is now +800 with online bookmakers for the Champion Hurdle.