The ground at Bangor-on-Dee was described as good on Monday morning but heavy rain was forecast ahead of todayâ€™s card and the assumption is that conditions will deteriorate markedly ahead of todayâ€™s nine-race card.
The card is sponsored by the Donald McCain yard and the local handler has a number of good chances including with Get In Robin in the maresâ€™ hurdle. That said I feel Winfola would have scored at Musselburgh back in January had she not come down at the last and she has had a recent pipe-opener on the level. The mare has winning jumpers in her pedigree, but she is overlooked given the form of the Phil Kirby stable who have been badly out of sorts of late.
The nod goes to the Skeltons’ Misstree Song (12.30) a winning pointer over two miles who shaped with promise in her bumpers including when runner up on heavy ground at Hereford back in December. The stable had a double at Uttoxeter on Saturday after a quiet period by their own lofty standards.The mare is 3/1 with 10bet.
One horse who will not be inconvenienced by the forecast rain is Bhutan (1.35) in the handicap hurdle over a trip just shy of 2m 4f. Jonjo Oâ€™Neillâ€™s seven-year-old gets three miles and his stamina will be an asset if the ground, as expected, turns soft. Chirico Vallis â€“ in the same ownership as the selection â€“ looks sure to guarantee a decent test and Bhutan gets the each way vote at 7s with Unibet who are paying 4 places on the contest.
Another Oâ€™Neill runner with more to offer is Joly Maker (2.35) who was not knocked about on his reappearance when beaten 16L at Southwell over the minimum distance. Trainer and jockey were asked to explain the running and riding of the 6-y-old, who has winning form on soft ground, on that occasion with the jockey suggesting his mount may need a step up in distance. He gets that opportunity this afternoon and is 3lbs lower than when scoring over fences back in October. The selection is 11/4 at William Hill.
Vocaliser (3.05) has his first start for Ollie Murphy, and he is extremely well treated on his best form. All his wins for his previous yard were gained going right-handed over shorter trips than today’s 2m 4f, but Murphy has regularly shown he can improve horses from other stables and this looks an excellent opportunity.
The booking of Richard Johnson would suggest this is not just a sighter for his new yard although his switch has not been lost on the layers. The best price 2/1 at bet365 is a point shorter than I had hoped for although he is thrown in on his old form.
Iconic Hero (3.35) was no match for the progressive Arthurâ€™s Sixpence at Fontwell last week but that rival is improving at a rate of knots and I feel todayâ€™s drop back in trip will suit. The Skelton novice failed to score in point-to-points in his native Ireland but does have plenty of valuable chasing experience and his current mark looks workable as does the prospect of soft ground. The selection is 7/2 with bet365.
At Catterick Snookered (1.55) is taken to follow up last weekâ€™s success in an amateur ridersâ€™ event over a slightly shorter trip for Brian Ellison. The selection has won over 2m 4f over timber so todayâ€™s step up to 1m 6f is considered a plus. The 6-y-old will, arguably, need a career best to defy a mark in the 70s but I think he is up to it. The gelding is 4/1 with William Hill and the big early mover in the race is Stag Horn – 7/4 from 4/1 with Hills on Monday.
Deft (2.55) steps up in trip on her handicap debut and was doing all her best work late on when fourth in a 10f Newbury maiden last time. The filly – a best priced 2/1 – is the half-sister to the Oaks winner Talent and is bred to be considerably better than her opening mark of 72.