Two terrific jumps cards at Huntingdon and Chepstow to look forward to on Thursday as well as a cracking flat card at Meydan.
We begin at Huntingdon where Interconnected (12.30) has his first start for Dan Skelton having cost no less than £620,000 at Goffs horses-in-training sales in May 2019, having been beaten less than a length by the talented Emitom on his hurdles debut for Nicky Henderson in March. The gelding was supposed to be trained by Philip Kirby, but connections had a change of heart and he has been registered as being with Dan Skelton since October of 2019.There was 11/8 available first thing but the selection is 10/11 with Boylesports at the time of posting.
His Newbury run was over 2m 4f, but he tanked his way through that race, and he drops back to the minimum distance today. He is entered in the Ballymore Novices’ Hurdle at next month’s Festival over two-and-a-half, but connections will be hoping he can get his career back on track after an absence of 727 days.
Only four go to post for the Novices’ Handicap Chase and I am sweet on the chances of the mare Timetochill (1.30) who has her first start for Fergal O’Brien having been sold by previous connections for “just” 45k in December. She was held in some regard by her previous handler Kelly Morgan and this course should suit given she shifted out to her right at Fakenham on her last start when she went down by a head to Gaelik Coast who has subsequently franked the form. Skelton’s Antunes looks the obvious danger. The 7/4 with William Hill was too big and the 6/4 with Boylesports looks fair.
Un Prophete would have been a facile winner on desperate ground at Fontwell last week but for coming down three out and connections will be aware that the grey goes up 8lbs in the weights from the weekend. That run was over 3m 2f on heavy, however, and I’m not convinced he will be as effective dropping back to 2m 4f on better ground.
My two against the field are Night Of Sin and Go Steady (2.35) and I am surprised the latter was put in as big as 12/1 with William Hill and he gets the each way vote although only seven head to post so each way terms are ¼ odds 1,2. The recommendation is 13/2 with BetVictor and 10bet.
The selection is only 3lbs higher in the weights than when scoring at Hereford back in March and reverts to fences having travelled strongly but faded close home when beaten 12L over hurdles last time. He was pulled out of a hurdle race at Sandown on account of the heavy ground last weekend, but conditions ought to be ideal today.
Night Of Sin – 5s with William Hill – was no match for Rikoboy at Market Rasen over an inadequate trip but that is good form, and he has been dropped a couple of pounds as a result. At the time of writing two of trainer Nick Williams’s last three runners have struck gold and he rates the danger.
At Chepstow I feel I must give Supreme Escape (2.27) another chance reverting to the scene of his C&D success on his penultimate start. Evan Williams fits his 7-y-old with cheekpieces for the first time having disappointed at Wincanton last time when he never travelled after a significant error at the first. The 11/2 each way was too big and he is into 4s with 10bet.
Poker Play looks the one to beat in the 3m handicap hurdle for David Pipe having finished runner up at Plumpton from a 1lb lower mark last time although Fergus Gillard can claim 5lbs today and only 3lbs last time.
The vote, however, goes to Blackjack Kentucky (2.57) who reverts to timber having disappointed over fences in two starts so far this term. The 8-y-old has a good course record and is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time by Paul Nicholls this afternoon. The selection is 15/8 with William Hill.
Funambule Sivola has won two of his four starts over fences this term but is 21lbs higher than when scoring at Wetherby back in November. He has been raised 3lbs for finishing second at Newbury last time and the first and third home have subsequently been well held.
Arian (3.27) is a mare I have a lot of time for and I am looking forward to seeing her drop back to the minimum distance for the first time since disappointing at Uttoxeter 12 months ago. The mare tanked her way through the race at Cheltenham last time but was beginning to run out of puff when coming down two out over 2m 4f. There is no guaranteed pace in the race and if nobody else wants to go on, I hope to see Dickie Johnson let the mare bowl along in front as she can be keen and may settle better on the lead. The Hobbs runner is 11/4 – weak in the market – with Boylesports.
Kevin Brogan takes over on the 11-y-old Sandford Castle (4.00) and I hope the selection’s improvement can be maintained switched to a left-hand track having been raised 12lbs in his last three starts all on right-handed courses. His latest third to Don Herbager at Exeter reads well in this grade and Brogan takes off a valuable 5lbs. The 9/2 with 10bet is fair.