The ground was described as good at Huntingdon at noon on Monday ahead of today’s card, but further light rain was forecast for the area in the run up to today’s eight-race card.
Vegas Blue was sent off 6/4 favourite for the opening Novice Hurdle at Kempton on Boxing Day but was reported to have been unsuited by the soft ground when well held behind stablemate Fred. Nicky Henderson’s mare won both her Bumpers including a listed contest here but, if the ground turns soft, then Panic Attack (12.30) might be the one to be with. David Pipe’s mare cut no ice in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival – sent off just 10/1 – having been sold out of Willie Mullins yard after making a winning debut in a listed Market Rasen Bumper back in January. The selection is 11/10 with 10bet.
Jonjo O’Neill was still claiming 3lbs when Flight Deck (1.00) scored on his sole start last season in a competitive handicap hurdle at Newbury on soft ground. Given his subsequent 7lbs rise in the weights the selection is effectively 10lbs higher in the weights this afternoon but that might stop his rise up the ranks on his chase debut.
I’m not convinced this is the ideal track for the six-year-old but he was well on top at the end of his latest start, having met trouble in running on what was a long run in as the last flight was omitted. He has the scope to rate much higher than his current mark over fences and the 7/2 freely available would be attractive if the rains arrive.
Soft ground would be a concern for The Late Legend (2.35) but such was the ease of last week’s Sedgefield success that a 7lbs rise is unlikely to prevent him going close especially when you consider you gave every indication that he would be best served by returning to a right-hand track. The recommendation is 15/8 with Boylesports.
Doctor Haze made one mistake too many when coming down four out here last month, but he held every chance at the time and can race from the same mark this afternoon. He rates a big danger.
Good to firm ground at Hereford but rain forecast and I feel there are races to be won with Diomede Des Mottes (1.50) over fences given he ran a race full of promise on his chase debut when a close fourth in a decent novice chase at Bangor -on-Dee last month. The selection is 2/1 with William Hill.
Tizzard’s Darlac is the obvious danger given he held every chance when coming down three out last time.
There are showers forecast for Hereford and I hope there is enough juice in the ground for Dame Du Soir (2.58) to take her chance for David Bridgewater in the Mares Handicap Chase. The selection was clear and going best when falling four out at Ludlow on her last start. The mare was a fluent winner here on heavy ground back in January and let’s not forget she has won on good ground previously. Nightfly has dropped to an attractive mark and Charlie Longsdon – who has had a frustrating time of late – had a welcome winner at Hexham on Saturday. He fits his nine-year-old with first-time blinkers this afternoon.
George Ridsdale was a fluent winner over 10f at Newcastle last month and is stepped up to 12f for the first time this evening. If he gets the additional couple of furlongs he must go close but I am sweet on the chances of Flower Of Scotland (5.15) who was slowly away but finished best of all – hung slightly left – at Kempton last time. PJ McDonald takes over in the saddle this evening on James Fanshawe’s three-year-old who has the build to carry weight. The selection is 5/2 with William Hill.
Future King (7.45) caught my eye when a staying on third at Haydock on debut back in July and he is taken to leave that form behind in the 7f maiden for Saeed bin Suroor. The colt has had his wind operated on in the interim period, but he cost 300,000 guineas as a yearling and is related to several all-weather winners. The selection is 11/10 with 10bet.