Heavy ground forecast at Wincanton for today’s seven-race card with further showers forecast.
In the opening Mares’ Novice Hurdle Farne carries a 6lbs penalty for winning at Lingfield on debut before finishing last in a listed contest at Haydock when a well backed second favourite. She has had her wind operated on since that moderate effort and she could easily bounce back, but this could be the day that the Colin Tizzard yard return to form and Bumper winner Rose Of Arcadia (12.30) has looked to be crying out for a step up in trip on her two starts over timber.
It is 47 runners and six weeks since the yard last tasted success and their inmates have been under a bit of a cloud in recent weeks. Eldorado Allen was no match for Shishkin at Doncaster at the weekend, but he ran well in defeat and the stable have had a number run into a place since the turn of the year without hitting gold. Last year the stable went into Cheltenham in top form but many of their stars ran well below their best. I hope Rose Of Arcadia is the first of many winners for the yard as the season rolls on to Cheltenham and Aintree. The mare is 11/8 with Boylesports.
Lilly Pedlar was never competitive but picked up the pieces to finish runner up to the impressive winner Boothill at Taunton on her hurdles debut. She may need further. Lucky One was an impressive winner on good ground – not good to soft as officially described – at Southwell on his penultimate start but he has won just one of his seven races over hurdles and I will be disappointed if Natural History (1.35) cannot go one better than when runner up at Plumpton last month.
I am convinced the winner of that Plumpton contest – Gericault Roque – is well above average and Natural History lost little in defeat on his hurdles debut. The selection was rated 101 on the level for Andrew Balding and holds an entry in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle. He needs to win today or that entry will look decidedly optimistic. The selection is 11/8 with BetVictor.
The Kings Writ failed to get home over C&D here last month when he travelled like the best horse in the race, but he has been raised 5lbs as a result and my two against the field are the progressive pair Seaston Spirit (2.10) and Shanty Alley with preference for the latter.
The selection has won five of his last six starts and I thought he was good value for a 4lbs rise for landing the Sussex National at Plumpton last month. The runner up – Special Acceptance – went down by just half a length to The Late Legend at Doncaster at the weekend and I thought Aidan Coleman was in control from some way out on the Oliver Sherwood horse last time. The ew selection is 11/2 from 13/2 with William Hill.
Shanty Alley has run away with a couple of handicaps in recent weeks, but he has been given a 13lbs hike in the weights for his latest Doncaster victory. This is an ultra-competitive heat and it will be interesting to see what the market makes of Eden Du Houx who has had a wind operation since his last start and is blinkered for the first-time by David Pipe.
Stormy Flight (2.45) finished second to the exciting Bear Ghylls at Exeter last time from today’s mark and this afternoon’s step back up in trip looks sure to suit. Jeremy Scott’s yard were under a bit of a cloud in the first few months of the season but have bounced back in recent weeks. The opening 11/2 with William Hill was too big and he is into 3s with BetVictor.
I was taken with the win of Champagnesuperover (1.25) at Ayr last time and will be disappointed if he does not go very close to defying his 6lbs penalty in the opening Novice Hurdle at Ffos Las. Both his career wins have been gained in Scotland, but I hope to see Olly Murphy’s 6-y-old appreciate the Welsh air just as much. He will make a terrific novice chaser next season. The selecyion is Evens with Boylesports.
At Meydan the lightly raced Man Of Promise (5.25) has been gelded since finishing runner up at Newmarket back in August when he travelled like much the best horse in the race before finding little on the soft ground. He is taken to land the concluding listed 6f handicap for Charlie Appleby. After just three career starts, he remains open to significant improvement and he has the option of transferring to the dirt as his pedigree suggests he will be at least as effective on an all-weather surface.
Top-weight Ekhtiyaar was a staying on fourth over the minimum trip on his reappearance and today’s sixth furlong will suit but he may struggle to give 16lbs to the Appleby four-year-old. The selection was 4s with William Hill first thing Wednesday but is 10/3 with the same firm at the time of posting.