I don’t usually bet this early in the season, but there’s a good steeplechase at Gowran Park tomorrow – the 4.25. Nor do I usually bet horses with jumping deficiencies, but I’m backing one in this race.
Us And Them has a string of 2nds to his name – five – and he’s won just a single Chase from eight. But he’s been keeping very good company. All five of those races were Grade 1s. He unseated last time in Chacon Pour Soi’s race at Punchestown, losing his rider at the third. Prior to that he was 2nd at Aintree despite some very chancy jumps. And before that he ran on from what looked a hopeless position (second last, a mile back) two out to be 2nd in the Arkle at Cheltenham.
He is quite stiff backed when jumping – a trait I normally avoid with fervour. Horses affected by this tend to always do it to some extent; it’s difficult to train out of them.. The most notable sign of not being able to bend the spine is leaving the hind legs in a fence (Long Run used to do it when under pressure). It can affect confidence and some horses become nervy approaching a jump. But Us And Them shows no sign of anxiety and, despite the fault, tends to find a way from one side to the other. I’m happy to give him a chance tomorrow because of his jumping in the past as much as in spite of it, because he must have a hell of an engine to continually place in these top races. Had he been a good jumper I’d be confident that string of 2s would feature at least three 1s.
James Joseph Slevin (JJ) usually rides Us And Them. The victim of that unseat was Shane Shortall who wouldn’t know the quirks of the horse as well as JJ. Joseph O’Brien trains the horse and the yard is in fine form at the moment. This is the horse’s first attempt at 2m 4f but the way he’s been finishing his races strongly suggests this longer trip will suit.
Most online bookies go 9/1 Us And Them and I make him a two-star bet* EW. I’ll be very surprised if he isn’t shorter at the off. There are 8 runners declared and we must hope that all stand their ground to ensure three places.
*My usual confidence classification on bets is: worth a bet: I recommend you bet this: I strongly recommend a bet. This season I’ll allocate a star to each of these, three-stars indicating most confidence.
Good luck, and be careful. Don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile, no matter the source of the tip.
All the best.
Post race comment:
Us And Them finished 3rd at an SP of 4/1. We got a profit to £10EW of £8.00 at the advised 9/1
His jumping held up until the second last where he looked to be tiring. He barely managed to get his rear end up there and was even worse at the last before picking up to battle on bravely. He was deprived of 2nd by a head and I suspect that was down to him not getting the trip. His always-the-bridesmaid formline should see him going off at a decent price again next time, assuming he keeps similar company. His misfortune might be that he is a horse without an ideal trip – 2 miles being too short and 2m 4f too long.