The ground was described as good at Wincanton on Wednesday morning but conditions were forecast to deteriorate with up to an inch of rain forecast to hit parts of Britain ahead of today’s card.
Sandford Castle (3.25) was taken out of an engagement at Exeter on Tuesday on account of the drying ground, but conditions should be ideal for this confirmed mud-lover although he is, arguably, 9lbs higher in the weights than when second at Chepstow last time when he was caught on the run in under 5lb conditional Kevin Brogan.
Brogan is required at Carlisle this afternoon and James Bowen takes over in the saddle for the first time on the veteran. The 11/4 with William Hill looked too big given the forecast and he is 2s with 10Bet at the time of posting.
Winning form on soft ground is thin on the ground but a danger could be Bellamy’s Grey who has bits of form on soft ground which suggest he could be well treated reverting to fences having been struck into on his last start over the larger obstacles. He is not the most fluent of jumpers but soft ground clearly suits although he represents the local yard of Carroll Grey who have not saddled a winner for over 2000 days!
Carry On The Magic (4.00) finished runner up in his sole point-to-point in his native Ireland when beaten a length by Killer Clown back in December 2018. The winner was just touched off at Newbury at the weekend over fences and is now rated in the 140s for Emma Lavelle. The selection – 5/6 with William Hill – was flattered to get within a length of the winner but he cost his present connections £160,000 straight after his point debut and Highclere have had to wait over 800 days for his British debut. Paul Nicholls has saddled the winner of this corresponding race twice in the last three years and his rules debut is eagerly awaited.
At Carlisle I am keen on the chance of Crypto (1.30) in the handicap chase over 2m 4f for Venetia Williams and Charlie Deutsch. The selection – 13/8 with Boylesports – looked a real stayer at Chepstow on his chase debut when third from a 2lbs higher mark but this stiff track should suit and the hope is that his fencing – careful in south Wales – will be more proficient with that experience under his belt.
He cost connections 200k after winning a Bumper first time out for Micky Hammond but looks on a fair mark against largely exposed rivals. He must show a fair bit at home as he has been a beaten favourite in four of his five career starts over jumps. It is about time he showed he was no morning glory.
Point winner Maid O’Malley (3.50) has fallen in his last couple of chase starts but he would have gone very close at Uttoxeter last month but for coming down three out. He ran his best race over hurdles here back in November and must have a leading chance if he can avoid silly mistakes. The selection is 9/2 with BetVictor.