A quiet week in the world of racing with the Cheltenham Festival now just two weeks away. The weights for the handicaps at the four-day meeting will be published on Wednesday, but one horse who caught me eye at the weekend was Kildisart who finished fifth behind Mister Malarkey in the valuable 3m chase at Kempton. Ben Pauling’s eight-year-old was cut to 16/1 at BetVictor for the Ultima Handicap Chase (NRNB) on the opening day of the Festival and he looks to be coming to hand although he needs to jump with a bit more fluency than was the case on Saturday.
Catterick are due to inspect at 8am on Tuesday morning for today’s card with the track covered in an inch of snow although rain was forecast for Monday afternoon and the racecourse executive described prospects as 70:30 for racing to get the green light.
Ask Paddy has won his last three starts but has been raised 21lbs for those victories although he is likely to make a bold bid in his quest for a four-timer having been given a month off since his last win at Sedgefield last month.
Absolutely Dylan (4.15) pinged the first four fences at Wetherby but overjumped and came a cropper at the fifth last time and regular pilot Danny Cook returns to the saddle on Tuesday afternoon having missed the ride last time. The selection has won from this mark in the past and should be fresher than most having just had the two starts so far this term. It is well documented that this has been a moderate season for the Sue Smith yard, although the string are in better form of late than was the case in the first half of the season.
Trainer Jonjo O’Neill reported that the improved from of The Composeur (4.45) was down to the better ground (good to soft) at Huntingdon last time and not just the switch to handicaps. If that is the case a 10lbs higher mark and a return to heavy ground is less than ideal, but he looked a progressive sort last time and I hope he can follow up. Mamoo was given plenty to do when runner up over the C&D last time and he looks the one who can benefit most if the O’Neill runner fails to cope with underfoot conditions.
At Lingfield leading Irish handler Joseph O’Brien brings over the hat-trick seeking Calidus Mirabilis and the gelding is only 3lbs higher than when making most at Chelmsford last time. Oisin Murphy takes over in the saddle on the likely market leader.
I expect Believe In Love and Visibility to finish in front of their recent C&D conqueror Goddess Of Fire at the revised terms and both are big dangers, but in what promises to be an informative contest, the vote goes to John Gosden’s Frankel filly Lisbet (2.20) who ran her best race yet when third at Southwell last time. She promises to be well suited by the step up to 10f for the first time.
Palavecino (2.50) was having his first start for over 500 days and first run on an all-weather surface when runner up at Newcastle earlier in the month, and that form has been franked when the winner – Lucky’s Dream – followed up at Chelmsford. The selection was very keen at Gosforth Park and the hope is that he will be more amenable to restraint with that run under his belt.
There is plenty of pace in the feature event the 6f handicap for the classic generation and I hope the race is set up for a closer. Hamish Macbeth (4.00) will certainly get further than the trip this summer and has been out in Doha where he finished a creditable fifth in a valuable 7f contest last time. Jack Mitchell takes over in the saddle and he was in the plate when the selection scored at Salisbury in the summer.