Good morning all,
For the purists the jumps season really starts over the next two days, with some excellent racing coming up at Chepstow. It's entirely possible to see some genuine Cheltenham Festival contenders at this meeting, it really is that good!
My thoughts on a few of today's races are on the main piece.
2.10 – Paul Ferguson’s Jumpers To Follow 4yo Hurdle
How a photo of myself and Paul together with the byline “Massey Ferguson” has never come to light is one of life’s mysteries. Maybe we’ll sponsor a race together one day. No idea what we’d call it….
No surprise Vorashann is favourite after his Fontwell demolition job, as he’s race fit, in form, acts on the ground and it’ll be a big surprise if that’s as good as he is, but with a few of these having something to prove on the ground I’d rather throw a couple of quid e/w at a big price on Maskada. You need some excuses for two poor efforts at the back end of her season and she may simply not be good enough, but her best run came here against Allmankind in the Finale (in heavy, so any more rain no issue) and if she can find that sort of form, she’d have a squeak, even from out of the handicap.
3.15 – Persian War Novices Hurdle (Grade 2)
Philip Hobbs has been giving some positive vibes about the chances of Everglow in a recent interview with ATR, and given how he likes to introduce some of his better hurdlers in this race his chance has to be respected. McFabulous has a bit of a class advantage over these but the 3lb he has to give away to both Getaround and, in particular, One For The Team, bring them into play and I’m surprised the prices are disparitive as big as they are. One For The Team was steadily progressive last year and the way he hosed up in a competitive looking handicap at Newbury on his final start of last year was impressive. Yes, he drops back in trip here and that’s a concern, but Getaround should ensure a decent gallop and if it is very soft, then I’d have a slight question mark against Mc Fabulous on it. Small win bet One For The Team and I might even try the forecast with Getaround too, if it is soft enough.
4.55 – 2m7½f Veterans Chase
Some lovely old boys in action here. Theatre Guide is a regular in these events and will have his supporters but he’s 13 now and he’s had 47 starts. He’s had a wind operation but that’s not his first, and he didn’t really pull up any trees on his first start after he’d had one last time.
On Tour and Joe Farrell both ran well in this last year, with Joe Farrell looking all over the winner coming to the last only to guess at it a bit, and let Vieux Lion Rouge and On Tour get to him close home. Other than that he jumped well, in the main, one of his key assets and with that I can see him and Jonjo O’Neill getting on very well together. He’s only 11 and has had less than half the number of starts as Theatre Guide, mainly as he needs a bit of time between his races. With conditions fine again, and a few from the yard running perfectly well on their reappearances this week, he’ll do for me.
There’s no doubt that Strong Pursuit is well treated on old form but two of his three efforts of last year were lacking, to say the least. Maybe he’s best fresh, and if the price is right I’d consider a saver, but he’s risky.
5.55 – 2m7½f Handicap Chase
Plenty will stop at Gary Moore’s Antony here, very well handicapped on his best form and a cut (or two) above this lot at his best, but that was pretty much the case for a lot of last season and he couldn’t take advantage then either. Changes of headgear did little for him on his last two starts and now there’s none at all. I don’t really know what to make of him but given he’s likely to be towards the head of the market here, I’d rather look elsewhere.
Royal Magic comes here in excellent form but his recent improvement has come on quicker, and this slower surface will ask a new question of him. Amateur certainly won’t mind the ground and turned in a very solid effort against an in-form Kings Temptation at Uttoxeter last time, so has to be on the shortlist, but if the price is right I could be tempted in with Christian Williams' Massini’s Dream, who ran a corker on his reappearance after over a year off last season, beaten just half a length at Taunton and might well have won in two more strides. Trip and ground are ideal, and I think he’ll handle the track. Yard had a recent winner after a barren spell, too.
Today's selection – Joe Farrell, 4.55 Chepstow.
Good luck with all your bets today,