At the time of writing today’s jumps cards at Taunton is subject to an 8am inspection although the racecourse executive described it as perecautionary which suggests they are optimistic of racing. It seems sensible to begin our preview at Kempton, however, for their Jumpers Bumper card.
In the opener Balco Coastal (12.45) makes his British/rules debut for Nicky Henderson having finished runner up in a point-to-point in his native Ireland at the end of October. The winner – Gentlemansgame – has subsequently won a maiden hurdle at Cork and finished runner up to Gaillard Du Mesnil at the Dublin Racing Festival in Grade 1 company at the weekend. The gelding cost £100,000 at Goffs November Sales and Henderson likes to have winners at Kempton – albeit usually on the turf track. The selection was 11/4 when betting opened but is into 15/8 with Boylesports at the time of posting.
Lucky’s Dream (1.45) who won a similar contest at Lingfield last month for Ian Williams can follow up this afternoon. The selection is a course winner here on the level over 10f and would not want the race to turn into a stamina test, but these contests seldom are and his 6lbs penalty is largely negated by Charlie Todd’s 5lbs claim. The recommendation is 15/8 with 10bet.
I hope to see Flic Ou Voyou (2.15) make most in one of the more interesting races on the card. The selection – 13/8 with BetVictor – is a dual Bumper winner and won three hurdles earlier in the season on decent ground. Do note that trainer Paul Nicholls has eight runners on today’s card, yet stable jockey Harry Cobden is booked for two mounts at Taunton – Time to Tinker in the opener and Gala De Corton in the concluding Bumper. Cobden does have four other rides including three for Colin Tizzard.
Press Your Luck disappointed on soft ground last time but he looks the type who will appreciate more of a speed test for Chris Gordon.
Mengli Khan (3.20) won a Grade 1 Hurdle for Gordon Elliot in his native Ireland but was sold by Gigginstown Stud for £65k earlier in the season and has joined Henderson at Seven Barrows. He was beaten in a similar contest to this at Lingfield last month, having disappointed on his chase debut for the yard, but I thought that was a better race than today’s and feel he can go one better.
Gordon again saddles the main danger courtesy of On The Slopes who has an excellent course record but has disappointed in two starts over fences this term at Cheltenham. It might be that a return to a right-hand track will suit but he may not have the necessary pace on this surface. He is one to have on your side back here on decent ground over fences in the next few months.
At Taunton and I hope to see further evidence of an upswing in the fortunes of the Tizzard yard. Amarillo Sky will surely leave an opening mark of 117 alone in time but he is short enough in the market at 5/2 and this is a competitive little handicap.
I thought Baignard (4.30) ran a good race at Wincanton last time when he lost a decent position at halfway before making good ground going to two out before fading. That was over 2m 4f and this intermediate 2m 2f trip should suit. Trainer Nick Mitchell had a good winner at Doncaster last week and Fergus Gillard takes off a valuable 5lbs. The 5/1 with William Hill is a fair ew price.