Uttoxeter are due to stage an eight-race card today on ground described as good on Wednesday morning with no further rain forecast.
There is a valuable 2m 4f handicap chase for novices and Éclair D’Ainay is a worthy favourite and looked ready for a step back up in trip when a beaten market leader from this mark at Kelso last time. The vote, however, goes to Oski (2.05) who is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time by Fergal O’Brien having finished runner up last time from a 6lbs lower mark. The selection – 4s from 9/2 with MansionBet – has winning form on good ground over hurdles and, including Max Kendrick’s 3lbs claim, receives 15lbs from the Dan Skelton trained top weight/market leader.
The Sue Smith yard have been in excellent form of late and Captain Moirette is very well handicapped on his best form. A market move for the grey would be worth noting.
The Skeltons’ may have better luck with Off The Hook (3.10) who only has a Maiden Hurdle win to her name but had bits of handicap form for her previous yard which suggest she could be well treated of her current mark. The mare – 6/4 from 15/8 with BetVictor – steps back up to 3m for the first time in over 12 months and this better ground should suit on what is just her third start for her inform stable. They will be disappointed if they cannot get another win next to her name.
At Wetherby Sigurd is the one to beat in the 3m handicap chase, but will he be able to follow up his recent C&D success from a 9lbs higher mark on what is sure to be the fastest ground he has encountered? His latest win was gained on ground described as good to soft but was run in a time over 50 seconds above standard although, one could argue, rail movements render the time meaningless as half a furlong was added to the advertised distance.
Lough Salt (3.50) is a dual 3m hurdle winner at Wetherby and has run some of his best races over fences over today’s C&D on good ground. The ew selection is 5lbs lower than when runner up at Uttoxeter back in the autumn and trainer Peter Winks has avoided the deep winter ground with his 10-y-old who has run well fresh in the past.
At Ffos Las Up For Parol (2.25) appreciated the drop back to the minimum trip when scoring at Wetherby last time beating the frustrating Barichello who has a gilt-edged opportunity to end his run of seconditis earlier in the day at Wetherby. This is likely to be the fastest ground the selection – 13/8 with William Hill – has encountered – given as good to soft on Wednesday morning – to date but he is taken to follow up under a 6lbs penalty. Nicky Henderson’s Gipsy De Choisel looks the main threat despite disappointing at Market Rasen last time.
I thought Carrick Roads was in for a good season when scoring at Sedgefield back in November but, like so many of the stable’s inmates, he has not built on that initial success although today’s better ground should suit. Harry Cobden looks likely to finish third in the jockey’s title race, but he would surely have been hard to beat had the Colin Tizzard stable not been under a cloud.
I remember Landofsmiles (3.00) finishing third to Aye Right over hurdles at Ayr a couple of seasons ago and he looks to have taken well to chasing having ran away with a moderate Chepstow handicap last time. This is a much stronger race, and the selection – 2/1 with Boylesports – must carry a 7lbs penalty, but he will enjoy underfoot conditions and could still be well ahead of his current mark.
Seaston Spirit (4.37) was a late withdrawal from a race at Haydock last week on account of the prevailing ground – given as good to soft but no better than good – and trainer Oliver Sherwood will be hoping that conditions do not dry out too much in the feature West Wales National. Kai Lenihan was in the saddle when the each way selection – 12s with 10Bet – scored here over hurdles back in September and the young conditional keeps the ride.