Good morning all,
48 hour declarations for the Betfred Classic at Warwick tomorrow (another marathon staying contest, seems to be one every other day at present) means that I've been able to take a look at the race already. I'll be doing the Warwick card for the Life later on today and will do a video preview of it tomorrow morning.
Plus one at Huntingdon that I'm hoping can get his season back on track with a win today.
W Greatrex / G Sheehan 11.12/p
A regular in top-class staying events, second in the NH Chase at the Festival last year and ran respectively in the Ladbrokes Trophy on final start, but ground likely to be soft enough for him and a big weight to hump as well.
D Skelton / Harry Skelton 11.11/
Likely this has been his target this year, handicapper not been harsh after latest Bangor win in November and comes here fresher than most. Needs to prove he stays this far, but ground no issue and not easy to discount.
Kerry Lee / J E Moore 11.11/b
Quite highly tried last year but now only 1lb higher than when ploughing through the Hereford mud last February to win with a bit in hand. Second in this last year too, and chances if he can refind best form.
N A Twiston-Davies / Jamie Bargary(3) 11.11/p
Can make mistakes but jumped much better when successful at Cheltenham in October, beating a well-handicapped one. Outclassed in the Ladbrokes Trophy last time but this a more suitable test, with ground no issue. Chance with a clear round.
A J Honeyball / Sean Bowen 11.10/t
Stays very well and lost no caste in defeat at Sandown last time, only giving best very late on. Possible that this grade will find her out though (never won in it) and looks high enough in the handicap now too.
Mrs Caroline Bailey / Miss G Andrews(3) 11.9/
Not the biggest but tries hard, and worth a try at a marathon trip based on some of his efforts. Latest effort best forgiven as he clearly wasn't right, ground no issue and may run well for a long way here. If stamina holds out, has a chance.
N B King / Bryony Frost(5) 11.7/b1
Nicely handicapped on the best of his form, looked to be on the way back with a better effort at Chepstow two starts back but never went a step in the Welsh National last week. Quick turnaround, always capable but needs plenty of driving.
Miss V Williams / Charlie Deutsch(3) 11.4/p
Took advantage of a falling handicap mark to score in atrocious ground at Haydock at the end of December before an early casualty in the Welsh National last week. Stays all day in bad ground but might need a bit more now new mark has kicked in.
N A Twiston-Davies / Mr Z Baker(5) 11.4/p1
Pulled up in this last year when quietly fancied, efforts since them mixed but did run well here in October and looks ready for another crack at a marathon. Cheekpieces go on, which should help, and he's one of the more interesting ones.
A M Hales / Harry Bannister 11.4/
Stays well and was spotted travelling nicely in rear at Sandown last time, looked a threat at one stage but never quite got there. Acts on most ground, probably a little outclassed here but a good run wouldn't be the biggest shock.
On The Road
Evan Williams / Adam Wedge 11.3/t
Was fancied to run a good race in the Welsh National last week but unseated his rider early. No issue with the ground, however bad it gets, but still to prove this trip is really what he wants. On that, others preferred.
Kerry Lee / Richard Patrick(5) 11.0/v
Eats mud pies for breakfast, so any more rain in his favour, continued in very good form at Wincanton on latest start, touched off on the nod. Still looks on a fair mark given his exploits and every chance from a nice weight.
Ian Williams / R T Dunne 11.0/v1
No doubting how well handicapped he is on the best of his form, but that's been the case for some time now and you've got to go back to 2014 to find the last time he won one. A slog in the mud possibly not ideal either, and others preferred.
Kerry Lee / C Poste 10.12/p
Winner of this from a 2lb higher mark back in 2016, so no problems from a handicapping point of view, but you'd have liked to have seen a bit more encouragement on latest start (well beaten). Has a chance, but comes with risks now.
Miss Lucinda V Russell / 10.5/t
Close third in the North Yorkshire handicap last year but only seen twice since then, so has perhaps had issues. Stays fine but may require better ground, and isn't really up to this class, so not hard to look elsewhere for the winner.
Today I'm hoping that Gumball can bounce back to form in the 3.00 at Huntingdon, where he appears to have Style De Garde standing in his way of victory. I've been a fan of Gumball since I saw him at Stratford first time up and he looked very impressive on his first two starts. It's to be remembered he looked the likely winner at Cheltenham for a few strides on the far side too until he hit the very bad ground in the home straight and stopped very quickly, his defeat magnified by the fact Richard Johnson stayed on the far side (never a good idea in soft/heavy). This ground should be better, Huntingdon rarely gets deep, and I'd like to see him get back to winning ways. A win here may yet see him go to the Triumph, where the better ground will suit.
Today's selection – Gumball 3.00 Huntingdon