Good morning all,
Off to Sandown shortly to work in Tatts for the day, so hoping the worst of the weather has already passed.
It's going to be pretty testing there today after 6mm of rain overnight, and I'd expect a few non-runners before racetime.
Wincanton also stage a televised fixture this afternoon and it's to be hoped the fog doesn't descend too badly – we don't want another Haydock-like fiasco from a few weeks ago.
My thoughts on today's TV races on the main piece.
Today's TV Races
1.50 32Red Casino Handicap Chase (2m)
Despite reservations about his jumping, Garde La Victoire can outclass his opponents if putting in a clear round. It appeared a disappointing effort when beaten by Sir Valentino at Exeter, but in retrospect he was giving the improving winner 4lb and it probably wasn’t a bad effort. A perfectly respectable effort behind Yanworth on his latest start merely confirmed he’s in good form, and he’s the one to beat.
De Faoithesdream appeared unlucky at Cheltenham last time and can’t be given too much rope up front, as he’s likely to get loose on the lead (no other pace in the race).
2.25 32Red Tolworth Novice Hurdle (2m)
Good race for the money, and all 6 are useful in their own right. Capitaine will be popular after his Ascot beating of a good field, and he may well allowed to dominate here again. But his opponents will surely be wise to his tactics this time, and may force him to go a stride quicker than he would like, especially on ground possibly a bit too soft for him. That could play into the hands of Finian’s Oscar, for whom the dogs were barking before his Hereford debut and he could not have won any easier, disposing of the odds-on Acting Lass with the minimum of fuss. Whilst he may not have beaten much there, it was the manner of victory that marked him out as one to follow and despite the drop back in trip again here, he travelled well at Hereford and should not have a problem with it.
If it got really deep it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Global Stage outrun his likely big odds – he travelled so well on heavy ground at Haydock and it was no disgrace to go down to the useful Claimatakinforgan. One to consider to boost combinations.
3.00 32Red Veterans Handicap Chase (Final) (3m)
So much pace on here it hurts. I can count at least six to eight potential front runners, and although the natural thing to do would to be for something coming off the pace, I have a feeling one of those close to the pace will prove too good.
Theatrical Star is the one that makes a bit of appeal in a difficult contest, as he doesn’t have to lead to run his race and with the likely softening of the ground, should get his conditions as well. Two efforts at Sandown have seen him in the frame on both occasions, and a recent warm up for this over hurdles (over a trip too short) should have put him spot on. Hard to catch right, but the odds on offer should be fair.
Rocky Creek rarely runs two races alike and this trip would be a minimum for him these days, enough to put me off a repeat of his win here last time out. Dynaste is absolutely chucked in on his best form but the soft ground would be a worry, and similar comments apply to both Court By Surprise and Loose Chips, both of whom have good records here.
3.35 32Red.com Handicap Hurdle (2m)
Hard to choose something here as so many of these have such a poor record in the grade.
Faithful Mount won in Class 2 company at Haydock in September, albeit on the Flat, but soft ground looks a major issue. Chocala was behind him on that occasion and may well reverse that form back over hurdles today.
John Reel is hard to weigh up. Better known as a stayer on the Flat, he’s run well enough on his last two starts under an inexperienced rider to suggest there’s still ability there. This change of scenery might well suit too, and the booking of Aiden Coleman suggests connections mean business.
If you gave me a fiver I’d probably throw it at the inconsistent Prairie Town, who is generally steered away from slow ground but is a C&D winner on soft ground here in the past. Another good effort here to the improving Poker School in November showed his liking for this place, and maybe a return to it might be enough to spark him back to life.
2.05 Bathwick Tyres Handicap Chase (2m4f)
Just as everyone gives up on Fox Appeal ever refinding his form from increasingly lower marks, he finally came good at Ludlow last time, winning a good contest with a bit in hand. The handicapper has taken umbrage to that and raised him 9lb, but that still leaves him on a winnable mark if he can build on it. The drop back in trip would be more of a worry for me – he looks a 3m horse these days – and at the likely price I can pass him over.
Crookstown likes it around here and this small field will suit him. Whether he’s capable off this mark remains to be seen, but he’s not discounted. I’d be willing to chance a couple of quid on old Ballygarvey, not seen for over a year but has won off a similarly long layoff before. There’s no other front runner in the race and chances are, given his profile, he’ll be wound up enough for this. Ground should be fine and he might take some pegging back if allowed to get in a rhythm.
3.15 Bathwick Tyres Poole Handicap Hurdle (2m5f)
I’d like to see Clondaw Bisto go close here, if only to give the Towcester form of the race he finished third in a boost. I have a feeling it could be a strong contest for the track, and although Clondaw Bisto was plenty fit enough for that contest and might not improve much in terms of fitness, an opening mark of 115 looks very fair on his Bumper form, and he has to be of interest here.
Above Board is unexposed and beat Couer Blimey with ease at Carlisle and although the second is a bit disappointing this season, the speed figure was decent and it’s hard to crab him simply because the second didn’t perform. He will do better, as will Bradford Bridge, who goes handicapping after just the two runs. Clearly Mr Hobbs thinks him well treated and is keen to get him into handicaps as soon as possible, and the hint should probably be taken. This step up in trip will suit too, and at this stage he’d be the one for me.
Milord and Kk Lexion finished close to each other at Uttoxeter on their latest starts and Milord may well get the run of this from the front again. Neither can be discounted, but Bradford Bridge looks the one.
For the selection today, I'll go for Theatrical Star, with the overnight rain very much in his favour.
Good luck with all your bets today,