The dry spell of weather has seen some small field sizes across the Britain and that continued yesterday. Normally at this time of year the soft-ground horses would have made their first starts of the winter campaign but they haven’t had their conditions in the last six weeks. Clearly this situation will change and likely enough when the rain does finally arrive it won’t stop and we’ll be concerned about waterlogged tracks. Until it arrives, we can expect small field sizes to remain the order of the day. Looking at the short term forecast there doesn’t look like there’s going to be a lot of the wet stuff until next month.
Inside today’s main piece I have three for the tracker. Plus, I have a selection from Wolverhampton.
Final weekend thoughts
Besides the top equine performances at Haydock on Saturday. There were also some great human stories.
Get All of John's Selections
When you Trial his Victor Value service
Just £7 for 14 Days
Firstly, we had Rachel Blackmore, winning the big race on A Plus Tard, who not only comes across as decent human being but is also a world class sportsperson.
Then we had Alice Plunkett’s interview with Evan Williams, on ITV, after his daughter Isabel has just won the Stayers' Handicap Hurdle. We had a trainer happy that his horse had won a valuable first prize. However, we also heard a proud father with real emotion in his voice, as he celebrated his daughter’s achievement like any good dad does. Once again it highlighted the great human stories that particularly jump racing can create.
I have three for the tracker today all from Saturday with two from Haydock and one from Ascot.
Amateur – John Flint
An improving staying handicap chaser last season winning two of his last three starts at Newbury (soft) and Ffos Las (good to soft). The 8-year-old was weak in the pre-race betting when finishing a 24 ½ length 5th off 11 behind Jersey Bean in the 3m 4 ½f handicap chase at Haydock. That was his first run for 8-months so it was likely needed. Remains one to keep onside going forward.
Empire Steel – Sandy Thomson
Came up against a rapidly improving and race fit rival in Strictlyadancer in the handicap chase that concluded Betfair Chase Day. Given it was the 7-year-old’s first run since April it was an encouraging effort to get within 1 ½ lengths of the winner. A winner of two of his four starts over fences last season, both on soft ground. Given all three of his wins have come on softer ground than he encountered on Saturday. He remains one to be interested in similar races over the winter.
Sully D'Oc AA – Anthony Honeyball
Likely went into a few notebooks after his 2 ¾ length 3rd of 7 to Before Midnight at Ascot on Saturday. He ran much better than he had done on his seasonal return at the venue at the end of October. Doing his best work at the finish. He might have got even got closer to the winner if he had got a better run on the home turn. The 7-year-old had ended last season in excellent form finishing a 1 length 2nd of 19 in the valuable Red Rum Handicap Chase at Aintree before going one better at the Punchestown Festival. Showed on Saturday he can be competitive off around his present mark of 145.
In tomorrow’s column. I will be looking forward to Saturday’s Ladbroke Trophy at Newbury.
Southwell, Sedgefield & Wolverhampton provide the racing action for punters in Britain and there’s also racing from Punchestown. The racing has got a moderate look to it today. That said there are several interesting runners. However, they haven’t been missed by the bookies in the early betting market.
Yesterday’s selection Seemorelights ran well for a long way on his return to action. But he was weak in the pre-race betting and he ran to market expectations.
6:00 – The race of the day is the 5f Class 2 handicap at Wolverhampton (6:00). The quirky but talented handicap sprinter Mondammej won a C&D handicap here last month. He’s just 1lb higher and looks a worthy market leader. Venturous was in excellent form on the all-weather winning four times last winter. He also took advantage of a lower turf mark when coming from behind to win a 14-runner handicap at York in July. Returns from a 2-month break and he’s 1lb higher than for his last win over 6f here in March. Not sure he will get the race run to suit though so maybe he’s one for another day.
I’m off to Wolverhampton for today’ selection and its a rare foray into a novice/maiden race for yours truly.
4:30 – Tamilla caught the eye when a 5 ½ length 5th of 13 on her debut at Nottingham 20-days ago. Today’s extra furlong will suit the daughter of Nathaniel. She will be sharper for her Nottingham racecourse debut and can get into the money here.
Tamilla – 13/2 @ Paddy Power & Betfair Sportsbook.
Good luck with your Tuesday bets.