There is the possibility of showers at Exeter on Tuesday, but the ground was described as good to firm on Monday morning and I feel it safe to assume conditions will be on the fast side of good for today’s eight-race card.
Shantou Express (1.40) has finished runner up in his two starts over timber, but he can make it third time lucky in the maiden hurdle dropping back in trip to an extended two miles. The selection -4/9 from 4/5 when betting opened – had the third over 30L behind when second over 2m 4f at Uttoxeter last time when, seemingly, outstayed by a promising novice of Dan Skelton – Midnight River – who holds an entry at Cheltenham on Friday.
The division of the 2m 6f handicap hurdle at Hereford that Oscars Moonshine (2.15) won last week was gained in a time seven seconds quicker than the other and it is no surprise to see Paul Nicholls send his unexposed stayer out under a 7lbs penalty this afternoon.
Talktomenow has been hiked up 10lbs in the weights for running away with a Perth handicap last month. That was his first start since a wind operation back in June and he certainly looked to have benefited from the procedure. Jack Tudor takes off a valuable 5lbs, but he will do well to give 6lbs to the Nicholls’ runner who is 8/11 with Unibet.
Kitty’s Light was well on top at the end of his latest start at Warwick and a 6lbs rise is more than the fair given his saddle slipped and he would have run out a 10L winner under normal circumstances. That said I’m not sure the form is up to much and if Sizing At Midnight (2.50) jumps with the same fluency as he did at Ffos Las on his latest start, then I believe he can defy a 9lbs hike in the weights.
The Colin Tizzard trained eight-year-old – 2/1 with William Hill – has been raised 15lbs for his two chase wins of late but I’m not convinced this is the strongest race for the grade and there is no reason why he shouldn’t be as effective going right-handed although he has never won going clockwise.
In the 6f nursery at Yarmouth I hope to see Addosh (2.00) go one better than was the case last week when she went clear two out over 7f only to be reeled in close home. The filly drops back in trip this afternoon and William Buick keep the ride for Hugo Palmer. The selection – 5/2 at Boylesports – was entered at Newmarket tomorrow over 7f, but the hope is that connections have made the correct decision with the drop back in distance.
Ryan Moore takes the ride on Fox Shinji (3.10) and the form of his second at Nottingham last time has been franked by the winner – Bad Company – who followed up at Leicester although that was from the same mark as at Colwick Park given that success was in an apprentice contest. Fox Shinji – 3s with William Hill – must race from a 2lbs higher mark today but he looks to be improving – won his penultimate start – and I hope to see the former champion jockey make plenty of use of his mount despite a moderate draw.
Selecto (3.45) was only beaten a neck by Bad Company at Leicester last week and can race from the same mark this afternoon for Roger Charlton. The selection – 11/4 with 10bet – was too free in his first-time blinkers on his penultimate start, but connections left the headgear off last time. I hope the Bad Company form is the key to the two divisions of the 10f handicap.
If there is a star on show this afternoon then it is surely Captain Guinness at Tipperary in the Beginners Chase over 2m 1f. Henry De Bromhead’s five-year-old had not been asked a serious question when brought down two out in the Supreme at Cheltenham back in March and he is an exciting novice. He will not have things all his own way though with Entouncas and Unexcepted – both owned by JP McManus – also making their chase debuts. The latter is particularly interesting.