Soft ground forecast at Fakenham for tomorrow’s seven-race card with further showers forecast.
In the novices’ handicap chase over the minimum trip, I am sweet on the chances of Kap Auteuil (2.42) who ran his best race yet when runner up at Plumpton over this distance last time to En Coeur who was due to run at Leicester on Thursday.
The selection will get further in time and will appreciate better ground but is a full brother to leading Gold Cup hope A Plus Tard and would have gone even closer last time but for clouting four out when looking a huge threat. He is 2lbs higher this afternoon, but he has the scope to rate much higher. He is one to keep onside irrespective of today’s result, but I would be disappointed if he did not go close in this company. There was 10/1 available with William Hill – which was an obvious rick and quickly cut to 2s – but he is 13/8 with BetVictor at the time of posting.
Captain Morgs will be all the rage in the four-runner novices’ hurdle and could easily be coming into today’s race unbeaten as he went down by just a head in his sole Bumper, scored on his hurdles debut and then threw away a winning chance when swerving badly across the course at Kempton last time.
Had he kept a straight line he would surely have beaten Ajero who is a good yardstick on good ground. Today’s step up in trip looks sure to suit on breeding and he is a worthy market leader although he is a best price of 5/6 at the time of posting. Note he holds an entry in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle – and rescheduled G2 Sidney Banks at Market Rasen on Sunday – at Cheltenham next month.
The vote, however, goes to the Plumpton winner Gericault Roque (3.12) who looks ready for a step up in trip having got up close home on his hurdles debut beating a useful recruit from the flat. Yes, the runner up – Natural History – let the form down at Wincanton last time but he needs better ground and possibly slightly further. Trained by David Pipe the selection is 3/1 with 10bet.
Shang Tang must give 4lbs to the other principles but travelled like the best horse in the race when failing to stay over 3m in a Grade 2 at Doncaster last time. This intermediate trip looks ideal. Fakenham have put up decent prizemoney and have been rewarded with three exciting novice hurdlers.
Fire Away ran away with a Musselburgh handicap on debut for his current yard when backed as if he had to be pointed in the right direction. He has been raised 20lbs for that success and is thus 13lbs well in under his 7lbs penalty. Last Sunday was the plan of course as he was the first leg of a well -coordinated gamble born in Scotland that would have cost the bookmakers millions although the third and final leg went badly astray.
He has been put in at 5/4 for what is a much better race today and Premium Access (3.42) has improved for the switch to fences and was coming back at Mister Murchan when runner up at Wincanton last time. A 5lbs rise looks harsh on the face of it, the winner finished third at Sandown on Thursday – but he remains open to further improvement although I am still not convinced the Colin Tizzard yard are firing on all cylinders.He would be a confident ew alternative to the favourite if it were not for the stuttering form of the stable.
There is a valuable 3m handicap chase at Kelso, and I did not think it was much of a race that Quick Wave won at Catterick last time and a 7lbs rise leaves her vulnerable in my opinion. My two against the field are Duc De Grissay and Claude And Goldie (2.50) with preference for the latter each way at 12/1 with William Hill.
Duc De Grissay is a C&D winner, but he could easily be unbeaten in three starts here as he has also come down at the last when holding every chance on his two other course appearances. He has been raised 8lbs for unseating Ryan Mania at the last over 4m here in December, but he looks the one to beat.
Claude And Goldie has a terrific record fresh and has been off the track since November when running very well on heavy ground at Haydock. His course record reads 31312 and he is only 3lbs higher than when last successful. The ew recommendation is a 12-y-old but he has only had 10 career starts and this looks likely to have been the target for some time. Let’s hope all eight declared stand their ground for each way purposes.
Ebony Jewell has been let down by his jumping on more than one occasion over hurdles but remains potentially well treated for Nick Alexander. It would be no surprise to see him try and make all today.
Marginal preference is for Vision Du Puy (3.20) who respresents the stable of Dan Skelton who has already done us a couple of favours this week. The mare disappointed on her belated seasonal reappearance at Musselburgh last month but has been dropped 4lbs as a result and is entitled to be a lot sharper today. The 10/3 with BetVictor looks about right.