There was rain forecast for Chepstow on Monday afternoon with the prospect of further showers before today’s eight-race card. The ground was described as good to soft yesterday and it is likely to be verging on soft ground if the forecast is correct.
The 1st division of the opening novices’ hurdle over an extended 2m 3f should throw up a few winners with Sizable Sam and Only The Bold two exciting hurdling newcomers in opposition. The second division looks a weaker race and I hope to see Sam Barton (1.20) run a big race on his first start over timber for Emma Lavelle.
The each way selection – 7s with BetVictor – finished third in his sole Bumper at Exeter and this trip should be more suitable given he has bags of stamina in his pedigree. Star Gate cost connections £140,000 – £75,000 less than Only The Bold who runs in the same colours’ half an hour earlier – at Cheltenham’s horses-in-training sales having won his sole point in his native Ireland. That may not have been the strongest of races, however, and preference is for the Trevor Hemmings’ owned five-year-old.
Garrane had a poor time of things last term although the handicapper has certainly given him a chance and I will be keeping an eye on the betting to see if there is any support behind Jeremy Scott’s eight-year-old. The vote, however, goes to Wayfinder (1.50) who looked a thorough stayer when staying on strongly to finish second at Ffos Las on his chase debut earlier in the month.
The selection – 11/4 from Boylesports – was a hurdles winner for Rebecca Curtis over 3m 1f on his penultimate start and the step up to three-and-a-quarter miles this afternoon should suit. James Bowen keeps the ride, and he is taken to confirm Ffos Las form with Ballymagroarty Boy who was 4L further back in fourth last time.
The Beginners Chase is a cracker, and The Wolf has a fitness advantage over several his rivals having finished runner up at Bangor on his chase debut last month. He looks sure to go close but I remember when Liosduin Bhearna (3.25) easily picked up Blackjack Kentucky at Doncaster on heavy ground back in February and I believe he can confirm the form on their respective chase debuts.
The selection – 5/2 with 10bet – is 1lb better off at the weights with the Paul Nicholls runner this afternoon and both have the size and scope to make up into good staying handicap chasers at the very least. Blackjack Kentucky has had a wind operation since his last run, but the Fergal O’Brien trained seven-year-old was, arguably, too keen in south Yorkshire yet still put 6L between him and the runner up.
Miss Amelia (1.30) was an impressive winner over today’s C&D at Bangor-on-Dee back in December and can follow up despite being 10lbs higher in the weights in the extended two-mile handicap chase.
Mark Walford’s seven-year-old has had a pipe-opener at Hexham earlier in the month when she travelled like much the best horse before the lack of a recent run took its toll. That was her first start for 228-days and she should be hard to beat with the run under her belt. The mare is 7/2 from 4s with William Hill.
At Catterick Bolder Bob (1.40) hinted at a return to form over today’s C&D last time and that was his first run for Brian Ellison. The six-year-old is very well handicapped on his best form and was pushed out at the start here last time before making a quick move on the home turn. Graham Lee keeps the ride, and I am not convinced favourite Rich Belief will appreciate today’s trip on soft ground. The ew selection is 9/2 with BetVictor.