Jumps racing returns in Britain today with a nine-race card at Southwell on ground described as good on Tuesday morning with further showers forecast.
In the 1st division of the Novices’ Hurdle Rhosneigr is penalised 7lbs for winning a maiden hurdle at Huntingdon back in March for Kim Bailey but he looks sure to run a big race having had a run on the flat – rated 80 – at Chelmsford earlier in the month.
It could be a big day for the Olly Murphy yard and Enemy Coast Ahead (2.10) has his first start for the stable having finished runner up at Newbury on his sole start over timber for Tom George. That was not a strong race for the track, although the third and fourth home were subsequent winners. The selection had looked well above average when landing a Bumper by 10L at Stratford on debut and he is taken to return to winning ways for his new yard. The 6/4 with bet365 was too big and he is now a best priced 10/11 with Boylesports.
Thrave is rated 90+ on the flat and represents Paul Nicholls. It will be fascinating to see what the betting makes of his chances although his stamina must be taken on trust.
Nicholls saddles Ashutor in the second division and he had a recent pipe-opener on the level at Royal Ascot when he travelled powerfully but failed to get home in the 2m 4f Ascot Stakes. The grey is penalised for winning a moderate Catterick Maiden, however, and he is overlooked in favour of Sangha River (2.40) despite the latter returning to the track after an 863 day lay-off.
The selection – 11/4 into 13/8 with bet365 – was a fluent winner of a Doncaster Bumper before finishing second under a penalty at Lingfield under a less than inspired ride. He has the scope to jump a fence going forward, but connections will be keen to get him back on track. He remains an exciting prospect.
The valuable handicap hurdle over 2m 4f is a belter and Peter The Mayo Man has dropped to a favourable mark for the Skeltons’ who also saddle top-weight Theatrebar. Oscar Rose has a good record fresh and won over today’s C&D from a 6lbs lower mark back in October. Any softening of the ground would not inconvenience Fergal O’Brien’s mare in a hot race.
The vote, however, again goes to an Olly Murphy-trained runner returning from a long absence. Hunters Call (3.10) was last seen giving Silver Streak weight and a beating – Verdana Blue back in third – in a valuable Ascot handicap back in December 2017 when having his first start for the stable. The selection can race off the same mark today even though the second is now rated 28lbs higher and the third 16lbs. The betting should provide valuable clues as to stable expectations, but the 10-year-old has gone well fresh in the past and he gets the vote – 7/2 with Boylesports – with Richard Johnson in the plate.
St Gallen is the fourth Murphy runner on the card and it would not surprise me if we saw a number of multiple bets on his four runners, but I didn’t think St Gallen looked particularly resolute when finishing second at Kempton on the flat last time.
At Kempton it is interesting that Godolphin have persevered with the 4-year-old colt Red Centre (6.10) who has not raced since finishing last – reported to have finished lame – at Newcastle back in October 2018. His debut when a never nearer third at Haydock the previous month suggested he was well above average and James Doyle takes the ride for John Gosden this evening. The 7/2 with bet365 is fair.
River Dawn (7.45) was taken out of a race last week but is due to line up in the mile handicap this evening for Paul and Oli Cole. The 4-year-old – 3/1 with William Hill 4 places – suggested this mark was not beyond him when third at Pontefract last month and he had won his two previous starts on polytrack.
I thought House Edge ran a terrific race on his comeback when second from a 2lbs lower mark having his first start for 985-days last month. That fine comeback run was over 1m 3f, however and, while there is plenty of stamina in his pedigree, he is not certain to appreciate the step up to two miles for the first time.
True Destiny (8.15) is 2 from 2 over C&D albeit he is 21lbs higher than for the last of those wins. He returns from a near 12-month absence for Roger Charlton this evening and, interestingly, stable jockey Jason Watson takes the ride for the first time. House Edge could be well ahead of the handicapper, but he is short enough in the betting at 13/8 given the stamina reservations. At the time of writing the 5/2 for the Charlton runner is the recommendation.