There is a band of light rain due to move across Britain on Thursday and conditions at Wincanton – described as good to soft on Wednesday morning – could deteriorate further.
The form of Carrick Roads’ recent Sedgefield win was franked when the second ran away with a Southwell handicap but that success was gained on good ground and Robbie Power – who you would imagine had choice of the two Colin Tizzard trained runners – takes the mount on top-weight Darlac who is another who would not want too much rain.
David Pipe also saddles a couple and Tom Scudamore is on board What A Moment who was nibbled at in the betting when disappointing at Cheltenham in an amateur riders’ event he had won twice in the past. He has been dropped 5lbs for that run and the vet reported the 10-year-old had lost his front two shoes.
The ew vote, however, goes to stablemate Hugo ‘N Taz (2.15) who won the Lincolnshire National at Market Rasen on his first start for the yard on Boxing Day. It is possible that today’s reappearance is just a prep run for a repeat bid later in the month but we know he goes well fresh, and he would not be inconvenienced if the rain got into the ground. David Noonan has been in the plate for both his starts since joining the yard. The 10s with Boylesports looks fair.
Thahab Ifraj has won his last couple and he can race from the same mark as when scoring at Kempton last week given that was a conditional jockey’s event. The 7-y-old has been raised 4lbs for that effort but the rise does not come into effect until the weekend. I am not convinced he will be as effective, however, if the forecast rain arrives.
My two against the field are Neff and Accomplice (2.45) with preference for the Paul Nicholls’ trained 6-year-old who returned from a long absence when disappointing over an additional half a mile here last month. The grey has been dropped 3lbs in the weights for that effort when he jumped and travelled well but gave himself little chance of getting home given, he was too keen. I hope the drop back to the minimum distance will suit and the 9/2 with 10bet – each way 2 places – is the recommendation.
I hope to see Hunny Moon (2.37) make a winning hurdling debut in the Mares Maiden Hurdle at Leicester. Fergal O’Brien’s string remain in excellent form and she looked in need of this distance when third in a good Aintree Bumper giving weight to the first two home. The selection – 5/2 with Unibet – is a half-sister to three winners and her dam is a half-sister to Grand National winner Red Marauder. The well-bred Nicky Henderson-trained newcomer Fantastic Lady is the obvious main danger.
Ben Pauling’s De Barley Basket (1.37) is penalised 7lbs for his facile win at Taunton last week when he came home alone in a race when they only jumped half of the fences as a result of the low son. There is just light rain forecast at the east midlands track and, as long as conditions are no worse than good to soft, this progressive chaser is a confident selection to land the hat-trick. Agent Valdez is the danger having ran well on his chase debut when third here over C&D last month.
At Market Rasen Demopolis (1.22) makes his seasonal reappearance in the conditional jockey’s event for the Philip Hobbs stable in the colours of JP McManus. The ew selection – 4s with BetVictor – ran poorly on his seasonal reappearance last term but did run a terrific race on his first start for the yard coming back from a 553-day absence. I am convinced there are more races to be won with the six-year-old and he did win a similar contest under today’s conditional from a 4lbs lower mark back in February.
Only The Bold (12.52) shaped with considerable promise when runner up at Chepstow on his first start for Evan Williams. The selection – 5/4 with 10bet – cost £215,000 earlier in the year having won a point-to-point in his native Ireland the previous month. Moon King is rated 90 on the flat and showed promise on his first start over hurdles when fourth at Kelso. He needs to improve his hurdling but is entitled to come on for his effort in the Borders.
Pakie’s Dream (2.22) made all over hurdles at Musselburgh ten days ago in first time blinkers, but he had run a terrific race when runner up over fences here – in a first-time visor – on his penultimate start. The winner of that race – De Barley Basket who runs at Leicester earlier – has since dotted up at Taunton and Jennie Candlish’s 6-year-old is only 2lbs higher this afternoon. Do note good to soft ground is fine but soft ground would be a negative. The recommendation is 5/2 from 4s with William Hill.