The ground is soft – good to soft in places – for today’s eight-race card at Stratford and the last fence will again be omitted on the chase course leaving a run in of over three furlongs.
The near 2m 5f Beginners Chase is an absolute belter and Thomas McDonagh is a horse who will be winning plenty of races this winter over fences, but I do feel the Colin Tizzard stable are beginning to hit top gear and Harry Senior (1.06) gets a narrow vote.
At the time of writing it is unsure if Robbie Power will take the ride as he was injured in a fall from Vision Des Flos at Aintree on Sunday and missed his engagements on Monday and Tuesday. The hope is that he will be back to ride the selection who ended last season disappointing at the Cheltenham Festival – as many of the yard did – but who had previously won a Grade 2 back at the same track on Trials’ Day in January.
The trainer suggested in a recent interview for the Racing Post that they were happy with his home schooling and, while most of the stable’s inmates have improved for a run, he is taken to make a winning transition to the larger obstacles. No surprise to see the horse drift on Wednesday evening – given the form of the stable – although the 13/8 with BetVictor was beginning to look attractive.
The form of Summit Like Herbie’s third at Ffos Las on his reappearance has been given a boost by the subsequent efforts of the first two – Sizing At Midnight and Wayfinder – and he must go close despite the steadier of 12st in the novices’ handicap chase over 2m 6f. The vote, however, goes to the four-year-old Jean Genie (3.36) who was coming back at Vocaliser on his British debut last week and is 5lbs “well-in” for Tim Vaughan given his mark will rise by that amount at the weekend.
The selection – 7/4 with Boylesports – receives 16lbs from the top-weight and jumped well, apart from a mistake at the first, at Ffos Las. Do note he had experience of chasing in his native France. This trip is a long way for a 4-y-o but the way he was fighting back against his inform rival – albeit on good to soft ground – on his comeback suggesting stamina was his forte.
At the time of writing three of the last five runners saddled by Venetia Williams have pulled up, but the other pair have been well backed and won. Jack Valentine (2.58) won first time out last season and is taken to land the conditional jockey’s event at Newton Abbot with the forecast soft ground ideal. The opening 7/2 with William Hill was too big and he was a best price of 15/8 with the same firm at the time of posting.
Kerb Line is a big danger with a good recent run at Fontwell under his belt, but the Jeremy Scott stable are more miss than hit at present. A check of the market is advised.
There is a terrific flat card at Lingfield on polytrack featuring a couple of listed contests for fillies and mares. Cloak Of Spirits finished runner up in the 1000 Guineas and has a cracking draw in stall two in the listed event over a mile. If she gets a soft lead she will be tough to pass, but the hope is that Lavender’s Blue (2.45) can give the favourite a fright back despite the fact that she has 20L to find with the three-year-old on Sun Chariot running last time.
The each way recommendation – 6s with Unibet – has a record of 312 when ridden by Jim Crowley, who is back in the saddle this afternoon, and should have the race run to suit. She is unproven on polytrack but will certainly find this surface more suitable the heavy ground at Newmarket last time.
Aidan O’Brien saddled the winner of the listed 1m 5f contest 12 months ago and he saddles favourite Elizabethofaragon this afternoon, but I am a big fan of Sorrel (3.15) and hope she can land her hat-trick for Sir Michael Stoute.
The filly – 7/2 with 10bet – has a bit to find on official figures, but she has run well on polytrack previous over an inadequate trip and is taken to improve past her 10 rivals.