A sensational performance from Cyrname in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby was Saturday’s highlight when his jumping broke the heart of Vinndication who lost ground at most obstacles to the Paul Nicholls-trained chaser who was cut to 4/1 with Unibet for the King George VI Chase at Kempton on Boxing Day. Stablemate Clan Des Obeaux remains the 7/2 market leader given he finished over 20L in front of Cyrname in the corresponding race 12 months ago, but if the latter turns up in the same mood at Christmas he will be very tough to beat.
Soft ground forecast for today’s Hereford card and in the second division of the novice hurdle Velasco has had a wind operation since pulling up over an additional half a mile on his rules debut back in September. A winner of his sole point, a market move would be significant and trainer Tom Lacey fits his 4-y-old with both a hood and a tongue tie for the first time.
The nod, however, goes to Dan Skelton’s Across The Line (2.10) who was not beaten far at Bangor on his first start over timber and is entitled to come on for the experience. The selection – 11/10 with Unibet – will jump a fence in time and did jump slightly out to the right in north Wales. Today’s track should suit.
Force Ten (12.50) is not one of the stable stars at Ditcheat but he is taken to make a winning hurdles debut in the 2m 4f novices’ hurdle at Plumpton for Paul Nicholls. The selection – 10/3 with Boylesports – was sent off favourite on his Bumper debut but failed to live up to market expectations. He has not been seen since finishing third at Kempton back in February but is taken to improve for the switch to hurdles and the additional half a mile.
Linelee King looks the one to beat despite conceding 7lbs to his field, but the Olly Murphy yard have had a frustrating run of late and I’m not convinced the form of his Kelso success is that strong although the fourth scored back at the Borders track last month.
I thought The Brothers (2.30) looked ready for a step up in trip when getting up close home at Fonwell last time but trainer Robert Walford keeps him at 2m 3f although the switch to a left-handed track will suit as he jumped slightly left on the figure of eight track last time. A 3lbs rise is fair and Harry Cobden keeps the ride on the grelding who is 6/4 with 10bet. Anything that Anthony Honeyball saddles is much respected of late and a market move for Avoir De Soins would be worth noting.
At Kempton Alqifaar (2.55) looks sure to appreciate the return to polytrack having beaten just one home on her turf debut on ground that was likely to be softer than ideal for this American bred filly. Her previous C&D success – albeit from a 9lbs lower mark – marked her down as one to follow and she has another excellent draw in stall two. One note of caution. Trainer Owen Burrows has had a good summer, but he has been quiet of late with only four runners in the last fortnight and they have pulled up few trees. The filly is 11/2 at William Hill and gets an ew nod.
In the listed Floodlit Stakes, I hope to see Loxley (4.35) go one better than when runner up in the corresponding race 12 months ago when I felt Adam Kirby gave the selection too much to do. Charlie Appleby’s five-year-old – 7/4 with BetVictor – was far too free on his first start in 200 days at Newmarket last time but is taken to bounce back in a very winnable looking race.