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Glendale survives late scare to savour March glory

On the surface, Glendale’s victory in the March Napchecker race was no big surprise. After all, the Scotsman’s pundit had led the way for much of the month. But, in a thrilling finale, Kevin Walsh (Irish Post) surged ahead thanks to a winning 28/1 nap on 28 March. Walsh, who specialises in big-priced winners, looked to have the March crown stitched up thanks to that audacious scoop. However, Glendale would not be denied; and with three of the month’s last four naps prevailing, a run culminating in a 9/1 last day score, it was Scotland who claimed the honours.

Glendale finished the month 15.5 points up, while Walsh ended with a 14-point yield. Marlborough finally returned to something like his best with an 8-point profit, which earned third position in the month’s listing. The Racing Post’s Spotlight finished fourth with a 0.1-point loss, despite posting the month’s best strike-rate – an impressive 37%.

The dramatic conclusion to the month deserves a closer look.

At the close of business on 27 March, Glendale topped the table with a 3.1-point yield. Marlborough sat in second spot with 2.6 points. The following day the attention turned to Newcastle’s evening meeting where Bless Him (13/8) obliged for Glendale and Marlborough’s nap, Giavellotto (11/8) also prevailed. Then, sensationally, in the race after Bless Him’s success, Walsh struck gold. Streak Lightning had only beaten one horse home in three starts during a lack-lustre autumn campaign, but the Ruth Carr-trained gelding refreshed after a 167-day break, and revelling in a drop in distance, scored by a length under James Sullivan.

On 29 March, Walsh and Marlborough’s nap selections both lost, although Glendale reduced Walsh’s lead slightly with an 11/4 winner. All three napsters missed out on the 30 March, which meant the last day of the month dawned with Walsh 8.5 points ahead of Glendale, with Marlborough a further 4.5 points back in third.

Glendale’s hand was played first: Rikoboy, was set to run in a two-mile chase at Warwick. Walsh and Marlborough’s naps were to line-up at Chelmsford City’s evening meeting. The maths was simple: if Walsh’s selection won, game over. But if it lost, Glendale needed a win at odds of 17/2 or better. In Marlborough’s case success was only possible via a 14/1-plus winner (assuming both Walsh and Glendale napped losers).

Rikoboy, the outsider of four needed to step up after a poor last run at Huntingdon. And he did just that, winning by a ten-length margin under Sam Twiston-Davies. The SP was 9/1, meaning Glendale was back in pole position. Walsh’s selection was Almaan. Victory at anything better than evens would have secured the month’s crown for Walsh, but the four-year-old gelding could only manage sixth, leaving Glendale to savour the glory. Ironically, Marlborough’s naps, Dark Moon Rising won the next race, but odds of 6/1 were not enough to influence the result.

With a record twelve favourites winning at Cheltenham, there were few big stories from the 2022 festival. Racing Post Ratings fared best with ten winners at the meeting including a four-timer on Gold Cup-day. At that point, Ratings were showing a robust return on all-tips of 41.8 points (31% strike-rate). From that point on things turned sour and the return for the remaining thirteen days of March was a 99-point loss.

Perhaps the collapse of Ratings profit in March can be explained by post-festival fatigue, but April has begun with a 22.8-point profit on all-tips for the first two days action. The Sun’s Templegate has also started brightly and is up 20.5 points. However, the most impressive April starter is the Guardian – 36.8 points to the good.

Date Published: 04/04/2022