There is a cracking card at Ludlow this afternoon and the ground is likely to just be on the soft side of good with the prospect of a few isolated showers. The feature three-mile handicap chase is a belter and former bet365 chase winner Step Back has dropped down to a favourable mark and will give it a good go from the front although the yard are yet to have a winner this term although they have only had 17 runners.
A market move for Tintern Theatre would be worth noting even though he is returning from a near two-year absence. He is very well treated on some old bits of form but For Good Measure (3.20) gets the each way vote – 11/2 with Unibet – for Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson.
The selection looked to be coming with a winning run but could not get past Soldier Of Fortune over an additional quarter-mile last time but the winner has subsequently scored from an 11lbs higher mark. The Hobbs yard are not yet firing on all cylinders, but Imperial Presence landed Fontwell’s feature last weekend and conditions should be ideal for the JP McManus owned nine-year-old today with Step Back ensuring a truly run race.
The Novices’ Handicap Chase is another ultra-competitive heat but Morning Vicar (4.30) looked sure to go close in a hot Newbury contest last Christmas before coming a cropper four out. He can race from the same mark this afternoon and the gelding scored here on his sole previous visit. Darling Maltaix will appreciate the return to a right-handed track and he and Canelo are huge dangers in a terrific contest which will, I am convinced, throw up several winners in the months to come. The opening 5/1 was too big and he is now a best-priced 10/3 with 10bet.
Vinnie’s Getaway (5.05) is a point-to-point and Bumper winner who has finished second in both his hurdle starts and begins life in handicaps off what looks a favourable mark. Olly Murphy’s conditional Lewis Stones takes off a valuable 6lbs and, although he will get further in time, he should have another pace for this sharp track over the minimum trip. The gelding is 9/2 with William Hill who are betting each way four places.
Any further rain would hinder the chance of Roar although the latter is considered the main danger on good ground.
At Nottingham Approximate (4.15) is a daughter of Dubawi out of the Ascot Gold Cup winner Estimate – subsequently disqualified – and, while she is never going to be as good as her parents, she can take the extended 10f apprentice handicap in the colours of Her Majesty the Queen.
The each way selection – 12s from 18s with William Hill 4 places – was a bit keen on her handicap debut but made a bold bid from the front in that 12f contest and looked as if she ran out of petrol over that trip. She drops back in trip today and the booking of the excellent Cieren Fallon for her Majesty’s filly suggests that a bold bid is expected. Connections will be keen to get a win next to her name with the breeding sheds in mind.
At Sedgefield I expect The Navigator (4.35) to follow up his recent C&D success under a 7lbs penalty. The form has already been franked by runner up Radjash who won at Uttoxeter on Sunday and the grey can see off the challenge of Eyeofthescorpion who is also penalised having landed a gamble at Huntingdon over an additional quarter of a mile last week. Note Graeme McPherson’s six-year-old is also declared at Exeter tomorrow.