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Jamie Lynch's Weekend Preview: Game, Set And Rematch

It wasn’t just that he lost the match but the specific move by which Deep Blue won it that left chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov reeling in the first encounter between human and computer in 1996.

Jamie Lynch's Weekend Preview: Game, Set And Rematch

It wasn’t just that he lost the match but the specific move by which Deep Blue won it that left chess grandmaster Gary Kasparov reeling in the first encounter between human and computer in 1996.

Sacrificing a pawn with no immediate material advantage was, according to Kasparov, ‘a wonderful and extremely human move’ by IBM’s supercomputer, though the story goes that the game-changing manoeuvre was not a strategy but a bug. Kasparov resolved and rallied to win the rematch, and the following two, to save face and save humankind, but the prior evidence and prior experience added drama and dimensions that made the rematch all the more compelling than the original confrontation.

Native River
Native River Picture:Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images


And rematches are the theme of the weekend in racing, some bigger than others, some more definitive than others, but all having an extra edge by virtue of what’s gone on before, like the sequel that can concentrate on action because the forerunner dealt with all the character development, and one rematch in particular is a box-office blockbuster:

Might Bite
Might Bite Picture:Pat Healy Photography

Neither took on Bristol de Mai in this last year, too soon for Native River Horseform and too sloppy for Might Bite Horseform, but the 2017 renewal of the Betfair Chase raises an interesting point regards the definable differences between the big two in round two. Everybody remembers - or rather who could forget? – the desperate conditions at Haydock which resulted in Bristol de Mai taking the starring role in the reworking of Somme like it soft, and yet that race was two seconds faster in the completion than the Gold Cup (7.02.60 against 7.00.60), when every yard and every second helped Native River and hurt Might Bite.

Politologue
Politologue Picture:Photo by Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

The point is that, on the forecast ground, the 2018 Betfair Chase will be around a dozen seconds shorter in the completion than the Gold Cup last March, which certainly swings the pendulum in the favour of the gliding Might Bite over the grinding Native River, though that only rationalises their relationship in the market, and it may not even do that given the discrepancy, odds of around 11/4 seeming to underestimate Native River and overestimate what makes both tick.

If it happens, in the 1965 Chase at Ascot, it won’t be their second clash but the third, as before Aintree came Cheltenham when Min, though Altiored himself, was still sixteen lengths in advance of Politologue in the Champion Chase. That’s the reason they were 11/10 and 11/1 at Aintree, when Min did a passable impression of Politologue by doing the bridle march, delivering less off it than promised when on it, not to say either that finish or Politologue’s mechanics are as simple as all of that.

Min Horseform’s in-built exuberance means that anything beyond two miles – and Ascot is two miles and five furlongs – may be more Politologue Horseform’s territory, an element of needs must for both, plotting an alternative path away from Altior, and the pair of them could be vulnerable depending on who else rocks up at Ascot, particularly Benatar, who’s two from two at the track and crying out for a strong and strongly-run race to unlock his latent talent.

It’s a low-key beginners chase at Navan on a Sunday in November, but low-key beginners chases at Navan in November have, in recent years, served as a springboard to stardom for Vautour, Douvan and Footpad amongst others. Mullins has no entries in the upcoming one, but his absence isn’t felt for once, not when two of the top novice hurdlers from last year are seeking to earn their chasing stripes.

It was 2-0 to Mengli Khan in their match-ups last season, though Paloma Blue clearly wasn’t right at Punchestown, and there was only a length between them – in third and fourth – in the Supreme at Cheltenham.

The mountainous Mengli Khan certainly has the size for chasing, but he’s bred for the Flat and had two full seasons for Hugo Palmer before jumping for joy with Gordon Elliott, whereas everything about Paloma Blue makes him a perfect fit for fences, from how he looks to the way he races and the team he’s with, the Henry de Bromhead academy carrying the catchline of the bigger the obstacle the bigger the graduation.

There have already been some significant statements made about the Arkle, by Kalashnikov and Lalor, but both need to be watching Navan on Sunday for a taster of what could be in store for them down the line, Paloma Blue in particular worth an ante-post dabble.
Timeform




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