The Clarence House Chase is this weekend’s feature contest, and the hope is that last year’s winner Defi Du Seuil – one of 10 entered at the six-day stage – has been showing enough on the Somerset gallops to allow him to face the starter in what does not look a vintage renewal of this famous Grade 1 contest. The Philip Hobbs trained 8-y-old will need to put behind two inexplicably bad performances – both at Cheltenham – and the stable form remains fitful at best. Champion Chaser Politologue heads the market at Evens.
Soft ground forecast for today’s Fakenham card and Dundrum Wood is a short price market leader for the extended 2m 5f novices’ handicap chase for Olly Murphy. The favourite is only 4lbs higher than when scoring at Newcastle last time, but he jumped slightly out to his right last time and is unlikely to get his own way up front.
Admiral Barratry disappointed at Newcastle on his return from a lengthy absence but is very well treated on his best form. A market move would be significant. The each way vote, however, goes to Dubai Warrior (1.25) who was too keen and failed to get home on his first start for Dr Richard Newland at Newcastle over three miles last month.
The selection was a promising novice hurdler for the Jeffersons’ but has yet to win over fences although he is beginning to look very well treated over the larger obstacles and is entitled to come on for that Newcastle run which was his first outing in 317 days. The opening 11/2 with William Hill was too big and he is 4/1 at Boylesports at the time of posting.
Only four to post for the Novices’ handicap Chase but all will have their supporters although I feel it rests between Corrany – who is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first-time by Nicky Henderson – and Minella Encore (2.25) who is another recommendation from the Newland stable.
The selection – 11/8 with BetVictor – lost little in defeat behind the promising Mahlervous at Kelso last time and he has had a wind operation since that three-quarter length defeat. He can race off the same mark today and Sam Twiston-Davies takes over in the saddle for the first time on this ex-Willie Mullins’ inmate.
Seven races at Exeter on soft ground too and I am looking forward to the chase debut of Welsh Saint (1.45) who has been off the track since disappointing in the Pertemps Final – sent off just 6/1 – at Cheltenham back in March. The selection is closely related to a number of chase winners and receives 6lbs from the Gary Moore trained Full Back who scored at Plumpton last month. The Nicky Henderson trained novice is 11/8 with 10bet.
Ballybreen bounced back to form at Fontwell last week but he had a very hard race and will do well to follow up under a 7lbs penalty just five days later. He did win this corresponding race 12 months ago, however, but that was from a 21lbs lower mark and I am keen on the chances of Don Herbager (3.45).
The selection – 7/2 into 11/4 with 10bet – was beaten less than a length when third at Ffos Las last time over 2m 5f when I felt he really ought to have won. Venetia Williams has her string in good order and this eight-race maiden has missed a couple of engagements due to the elements in recent weeks. The return to 3m should suit and he gets the vote ahead of The Dawn Man who is entitled to come on for his seasonal reappearance.