Good morning all,
Two enjoyable days at Cheltenham have come to and end and although I couldn't find a winner yesterday, there was still plenty to take from the day and if I get chance next week I'll put it all together for a piece.
It's back to the normal stuff and I'll be travelling up to Southwell for my first evening meeting of the year later. It looks a right tricky card and it'll be small stakes stuff. But there's at least one interesting runner on the card – a few of you might have guessed what it is, if you know me well enough by now! – so my thoughts are on the main piece.
5.15 – 2m4f Handicap Chase
Riddlestown is one of those horses you can set your watch by at Southwell, he simply doesn't know how to run a bad race, and thanks to a bit of shrewd placing he is on the same mark as when winning with a bit in hand last time out. If he's in the same form tonight then he's virtually guaranteed to be in the frame, with both trip and ground ideal.
But there are others you can make cases for. Minellaforfitness would have these for breakfast if ever returning to his best form, or indeed anything approaching it, and as there's not much pace on here they might decide to let him stride on, as he can take a hold in his races. That might be the best way to get these beat – get them off the bridle before he himself starts to get tired – so I wouldn't rule that scenario out. He's gone well enough after a break in the past and holds every chance here.
As too should Gorran Haven, for whom the first time cheekpieces and step up in trip both look positives. I'm happy to forgive him his effort last time out as the yard's horses weren't going well at the time anyway (although they are hardly flying now, it must be said, but they are running a little better) and I can see a better effort tonight.
The other to look at is Annamult, who looks a bit high in the handicap but did beat Riddlestown off similar weights first time up after a break last year so goes well fresh, has won at the track and goes on most ground too.
At the current prices I'd be with Minellaforfitness and hope they let him bowl along in front.
6.45 – 2m Handicap Hurdle
On form, the ones you'd like to be with are Peppay Le Pugh and Quill Art, both of whom showed a bit more last time but this is race that's weak in depth and is set up for something to improve and take it.
And we have an ideal candidate in Rain In The Face.
We're back on board the Sam England juggernaut here with Rain In The Face, as there's plenty of similarities with other winners she's landed over the past 12 months, a couple of them at big prices when we were on too. If you're worried about the fact he's been big prices over hurdles so far, don't be – here's Violoniste's (then trained by Sam) previous SP's when landing a 40-1 into 11-2 gamble here around this time last year – 66-1, 100-1, 100-1 and 150-1 in four starts before going handicapping and winning first time of asking. A mark of 103 is nothing but an absolute guess from the handicapper and on the best of his Flat form it gives them some leeway to work with. I find it difficult to believe the yard won't win a race with him at some point – they don't make purchases they won't win with – and it could be on his handicap debut tonight. Here's hoping.
Good luck with all your bets today,