Wetherby was abandoned on Thursday, but no problems anticipated in south Yorkshire for today’s card at Doncaster although the ground looks sure to be extremely testing with further rain forecast.
The valuable 2m handicap chase sees just the five go to post, but it is a cracker and preference for The Big Bite (2.05) over Ibleo is marginal. The selection – 2s from 9/4 with Boylesports – has an excellent record fresh and returns from a near two-month absence. He has been raised 5lbs for winning at Aintree on his first start for Henry Oliver back in November.
Johnny Burke has his first ride back from injury and I hope it is a winning one. The selection receives 3lbs from Ibleo who put behind a frustrating run of seconds when scoring at Sandown at the beginning of the month from a 7lbs lower mark.
In the listed fillies’ juvenile hurdle there were only four hurdles jumped due to the low sun when Progressive made a winning hurdle debut here at the beginning of the month. She is priced up at 2/1 more because she represents powerful connections than the formbook, and my two against the field are old adversaries Megan (2.37) and Talking About You with preference for the former.
Stuart Edmunds is a dab hand with fillies and his yard has bounced back from a quiet spell in recent weeks. Megan is 5lbs better off with Talking About You for the 10L she was behind that rival at Aintree eight weeks ago, but that was at a time when the stable were largely out of sorts and she travelled like the best filly in the race. I was impressed with the each way selection’s – 11/2 with 10bet – debut success at Leicester although she is rated 15lbs inferior to the durable Talking About You on official figures.
Her Indoors was sandwiched between Megan and Talking About You at Aintree on debut, but Alan King’s juvenile failed to build on that promising initial effort when occupying the same spot at Kempton over Christmas.
Flinteur Sacre is a brother to the great Sprinter Sacre but this Bumper winner is fitted with a hood for his second start over timber having pulled too hard when fourth to the exciting My Drago at Newbury a couple of months ago. His brother, arguably, first shot to prominence when making a stunning chase debut here over nine years ago but this Henderson representative looks sure to be short enough in the betting for what he has shown on the track to date, and an each way alternative is Jack Sharp (3.10).
The selection – 9/2 with BetVictor – never saw the track when with Henderson at Seven Barrows but joined Alistair Ralph prior to finishing third over C&D on his racecourse debut. The selection is a half-brother to Mister Fisher and may find the ground too soft, but he made such an eye-catching hurdles debut that he gets a narrow vote.
Over at Navan Lord Royal (3.00) finished runner up in a G3 Novice Hurdle at Punchestown back in February and has the scope to make up into a better chaser. Things have not quite panned out as I expected this term, however, and the grey was very disappointing when folding tamely at Naas last month. The selection – 5/4 with 10bet – holds entries in Novice Chases ranging from 2m 4f to 3m 6f at the Cheltenham Festival which suggests Willie Mullins is unsure whether his 6-y-old is a stayer or not, but he steps up to 3m for the first time this afternoon. He has age on his side, but this is very much last chance saloon as far as I am concerned.
At Lingfield Sheila (2.55) is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time by Hugo Palmer and returns to 10f having looked a non-stayer over an additional quarter-mile last time. The filly is 1lb better off with Marion’s Boy for the nose she was behind the latter over C&D back in November, but the selection has a much better draw than that rival this afternoon. Tom Marquand takes over in the saddle. The ew recommendation is 6s with William Hill 4 places.