Bangor-on-Dee stage a competitive seven-race card today on ground described as soft on Wednesday with further showers forecast.
Fishkov (1.50) was given a poor ride when fourth in a Uttoxeter Bumper debut having cost connections £115,000 at the Sales 12 months ago following a promising second in an Irish point that is working out very well. Harry Fry’s 6-y-old was taken out of a Wincanton novice recently on account of the good to soft ground and I expect Jonjo O’Neill to ride the horse with more restraint than was the case in Staffordshire when he and his market rival went off far too quickly. The second favourite was beaten 105L and, in the circumstances, Fishkov did well to be beaten just over 8L. He is a shade of odds on at 4/5 with William Hill.
Flight Deck is likely to be a warm order in the extended 2m 3f handicap hurdle for his powerful connections, but I thought he would be plying his trade over further this season and he needed all of the 2m 4f+ when scoring at Newbury back in February from a 9lbs lower mark if you include his jockey’s claim. He did not appear a natural over fences at Huntingdon on his seasonal reappearance back in October and has a three-month absence to overcome.
The each way vote – 11/2 from 15/2 with 10bet– goes to the lightly raced Venetia Williams-trained Crypto (2.50) who has yet to build on the promise he showed when scoring at Newcastle on his Bumper debut for Micky Hammond but shaped more encouragingly when fourth on his handicap debut at Lingfield back in November. He is not exactly thrown in on his handicap debut given what he has shown over timber to date, but he is the least exposed in the field and has little to fear from top-weight Big Bresil on that Lingfield outing.
In the finale Baratineur (3.50) is 7lbs higher than when scoring over today’s C&D back in December 2019 and hinted at a return to form on his most recent start when a close third on his only subsequent visit to today’s track last month. Harry Kimble was in the saddle last time and keeps the ride taking off a valuable 7lbs.The 10-y-old is 3s with Boylesports.
Over at Fontwell and a big run from Fontaine Collonges at Leicester on Wednesday would be a boost to the chances of Belle De Manech in the Mares Novices’ Hurdle but she is penalised 7lbs for scoring at Wincanton on Boxing Day and the vote goes to Olly Murphy’s Allavina (3.00).
The stable have bounced back to form with a vengeance in recent days with, at the time of writing, three of their last nine runners striking gold. The mare – 5/2 with BetVictor – looked all over the winner at Fakenham when nabbed close home on her hurdles debut and was not beaten far – less than 5L – in a listed Bumper at Cheltenham on her reappearance. The selection is a half-sister to a 3m hurdles winner so one would imagine today’s additional couple of furlongs will suit although she did travel extremely well last time.
Love The Leader (3.30) goes unpenalised for winning a conditional jockey’s event at Fakenham over 3m 5f 10 days ago. His second to Ede’iffs Elton on his penultimate start from this mark is very good form given the winner has since trotted up at Wincanton and is now rated 16lbs higher. If over last week’s exertions he will be hard to beat despite becoming a teenager at the turn of the year. He is due to take a 7lbs hike in the weights from the weekend, so connections have had their hand forced somewhat, but he is in good form and is taken to double up. The veteran is 6/4 with William Hill.
At Catterick we now know that Timely Gift (1.10) faced an impossible task trying to lock horns with Shanty Alley at Uttoxeter last time given the winner scored by an eased down 12L at Doncaster on Monday from an 11lbs higher mark. Trainer Tim Vaughan could certainly do with a winner but two of his last three runners have hit the frame and the selection is entitled to improve on his last start which was his chase debut, first start in 88 days and his first run following a wind operation. The novice is 3s with Unibet.
The North Yorkshire Grand National is the feature contest and Le Breuil (2.40) ran a terrific race in the Becher Chase last time and would have gone close but for a shuddering mistake four out. A former winner of the NH Chase he was in the doldrums – as many in the yard were – last season but has bounced back this term as have many of the Ben Pauling stable. He has been dropped 1lb for his Aintree run and can give weight and a beating to his seven rivals. The former Cheltenham Festival winner is 15/8 with 10bet.
At Meydan I think the former John Gosden inmate Nova Roma (3.40) is potentially very well treated for his first start for his new stable. This is his first run at 12f, and he is not guaranteed on his dam’s side to appreciate the step up in distance, but Mikael Barzalona is a positive booking, and I am sure that there are more races to be won with this son of Golden Horn. I remember him scoring at Windsor on fast ground in the summer and thought he could make up into a 100-rated horse over 10f on fast ground. The selection is 4s with Boylesports.