Soft ground forecast for tomorrow’s Wetherby card and Balleticon (1.45) was backed as if defeat was out of the question when disappointing at Ludlow last time and he is taken to reverse the form of that race with The Grey Falco.
The Kim Bailey stable had a quiet start to the new year, but they have been back to their best in recent weeks and six of their last nine runners have won following Starvoski’s Southwell success on Monday. The 7-y-old, who will jump a fence later in the year, is fitted with a tongue-tie for the first-time and is taken to return to the form of his earlier Chepstow win and excellent third at Bangor-on-Dee in a race that is working out very well. The selection is 9/4 with 10bet.
In the 2m 5f+ handicap chase Luca Morgan takes over in the saddle on Mortens Lean with regular jockey Liam Harrison taking a couple of rides at Taunton. Mortens Leam pulled up here last time but ran a better race than that would suggest, travelling well in the rear before failing to get home over three miles. He has now dropped to a mark just 3lbs higher than when scoring over slightly shorter here in March, and today’s intermediate distance looks ideal.
Manetti (3.20) looked to be coming to the boil when third from a 2lbs higher market Ayr last month and Nick Alexander’s 9-y-old is only 1lb higher than when winning at Carlisle back in March when he jumped out to the right. He is taken to reverse the places with runner up Caboy on 4lbs better terms although he will have to jump with a shade more fluency than was the case at Ayr. The stable are in good order, however, and Brian Hughes – who was in the saddle for his last start – keeps the ride. He gets the each way vote at 6/1 with BetVictor despite those reservations about his jumping.
Course winner Eceparti is running consistently well of late and is a worthy market leader. The opening 5/1 with William Hill was too big for this course winner and he is half that price with Boylesports at the time of posting.
The valuable Mares’ Handicap hurdle is another terrific contest, but I am convinced there is more to come from Leicester winner Fontaine Collonges (3.55) who looks very well treated for her handicap debut from an opening mark of 115. A dual Bumper winner the mare rallied close home to beat a previous winner at Oadby last time and she is certainly bred to appreciate today’s longer trip. There are several dangers in the field, with Sexy Lot considered the principle, but the Venetia Williams’ trained mare looks the one who could be well ahead of her current mark. She was put in short at 6/4 but has drifted slightly to 13/8 with Boylesports.
There is an excellent 2m handicap hurdle at Taunton with last year’s Betfair Hurdle winner Pic D’Orhy reverting to hurdles after three moderate runs over fences. He is only 4lbs higher than when scoring at Newbury 12 months ago, but I wonder if he can give weight and a beating to King Roland (2.30) and Masters Legacy with the vote going to Harry Fry’s 7-year-old who is another switching back to hurdles having failed to get home on his chase debut when last seen at the end of October.
King Roland would be something to bet on were it not for the form of the Fry stable which has been poor since the turn of the year although Misty Whisky ran well at Sandown – having looked as if she was going to fall out the back of the TV – on Friday. The opening 3s looked worth risking although he is into a top price of 5/2 with BetVictor at the time of posting.
The selection, who pulled too hard on the way to post at Uttoxeter, is very talented and should have the race run to suit with dual course winner Masters Legacy likely to make it a decent test given he made all over further here when last seen in January 2020. The Philip Hobbs stable are in cracking form and Micheal Nolan rode three winners for the yard at Wincanton at the weekend.
Jean Genie (3.05) has been off the track since disappointing at Doncaster in November and he had his wind operated on 24 hours after that run when he was a beaten market leader having run two good races over fences the previous month. Five of Tim Vaughan’s last seven runners have failed to complete the course, but he did have a welcome winner on Friday. The ew recommendation is 9/2 with 10bet.