The ground was described as soft – good to soft in places – on Monday morning ahead of today’s seven-race card at Catterick.
In the opener Real Stone (12.30) steps back up in trip to the distance of his shock 50/1 success at Aintree back in the autumn. He has been bogged down in heavy ground of late and can supplement his October success with the drying ground considered a plus. The selection is 5/6 with William Hill.
Evander (1.00) is another who will appreciate the return to better ground having gone off too quickly under Paddy Brennan on heavy ground at Sandown last time when he was pulled up after a bad mistake.
He jumped very well when scoring at Doncaster back in December on good to soft ground and this left-hand track should suit. The selection is 3s with 10bet.
West To The Bridge reverts to fences having finished runner up at Wetherby over timber last time. He is the one to beat if transferring that form to the larger obstacles although he would not want the ground to dry out too much. I remember him blundering two out back at Wetherby over fences when he looked to be coming with a winning run. He did jump slightly out to the right on that occasion.
Chuvelo (1.30) went out like a light at Kelso when looking as if he had the race under control back in October and he had his wind operated on straight after the race. His subsequent absence from the track is a slight cause for concern given he has winning soft ground Bumper form. He has failed to get home in both starts over hurdles to date, but he has gone well fresh in the past and I would be disappointed if he didn’t make it third time lucky over timber today with Brian Hughes likely to go from the front. There was 9/4 available on Monday but he is into 15/8 with Boylesports.
At Leicester Destin D’jaonc has been raised 7lbs for scoring at Chepstow last time but I thought Brianstorm (3.10) might have “bounced” at Doncaster last time on his second quick start following a near two-year absence. His old hurdles form for Warren Greatrex would suggest he is well handicapped over the larger obstacles and he has been given a month to get over his exertions in south Yorkshire. Both his career wins have come going right-handed and his second to Francky Du Berlais from a 2lbs lower mark at Exeter in January is good form. He is 11/4 with BetVictor.
There is a good card at Newcastle on the level and I hope to see Great Esteem (4.30) reverse C&D form with Madeeh on 8lbs better terms – only 5 if you include jockey’s allowance – although I am slightly surprised that he is running back at Gosforth Park as an easier track is likely to suit this former Godolphin inmate who can be a tad keen. Archie Watson fits his 5-y-old – 2s with 10bet – with cheekpieces for the first time today. I hope to see Hollie Doyle take a lead with My Girl Maggie likely to make it a decent test.
I am convinced this stiff 10f is The Trader’s (5.30) optimum trip and I hope to see him return to winning ways from a mark 5lbs lower than when leading to two out over an additional quarter mile here back in November. The selection has never won on an all-weather surface but his neck second at Wolverhampton back in December suggests a tapeta surface holds no terrors. Songkran drops back in trip having tried to make all at Lingfield on Saturday. The race should be set up perfectly for the selection who is 5s with Unibet.