The news of the sad passing of amateur jockey Lorna Brooke on Sunday brought back into sharp focus what these brave men and women do for our daily enjoyment. We should never take for granted their courage and bravery – remember they go to work every day with an ambulance hot on their tails. They can sometimes frustrate but they are a rare and wonderful breed.
The ground at Perth was described at good to soft – good in places – on Tuesday morning ahead of today’s eight-race card. Stoner’s Choice (2.30) is the clear form pick in the listed 3m novice hurdle and is a typical representative of the Fergal O’Brien stable in that he has been a model of consistency all season. The yard landed their 100th winner of the season earlier in the week and he would be my nomination for jumps trainer of the season. It can surely only be a matter of time before he gets the patronage of more of the leading owners.
I remember the selection – 13/8 with BetVictor – brushing Copperless aside here over the minimum trip back in August and he was not stopping when scoring over 2m 5f+ under 11st 12lbs at Ascot last time. He has been on the go since the late summer, but he had a three-month break mid-season and is a credit to connections. Threeunderthrufive ran well for a long time in the Albert Bartlett but must give 3lbs to the selection whose jumping has improved leaps and bounds as the season has progressed.
Franky Du Berlais must prove his stamina in the 3m handicap chase but if he stays, he will be very hard to beat having ran a career best when scoring at Exeter – 2m 3f+ – from a 5lbs lower mark last time.
I am going to give The Wolf (3.00) another chance, however, for Olly Murphy who fits his chaser with a first-time tongue-tie. The 7-y-old had wind surgery last summer and might be due another procedure during the summer but I thought he ran well enough in the Ultima last time and he has bits of form which suggest he could be well treated this afternoon, having been dropped 2lbs since the Festival. The ew recommendation is 11/2 from 7s with 10Bet.
Tom George has his string in good form and Another Stowaway (2.40) might be a shade overpriced at 12/1 with Boylesports in Ludlow’s three-mile handicap chase. The selection only has one career win to his name, but a flat right-handed track is ideal, and he finished runner up here from a 12lbs higher mark last January. He has been badly out of form so far this term having had a wind operation back in November but he has his optimum conditions this afternoon.
Tinkers Hill Tommy is the one to beat chasing his hat-trick, but he is a stone higher than when scoring back in February. That success was gained on soft ground, but he is proven on a sound surface between the flags.
At Lingfield it was hard not to be taken with the ease with which Ephemaral (5.10) travelled through her race at Wolverhampton on her first start for 231 days. The mare – 3s with 10Bet – was well backed on that occasion and was a bit keen. The hope is that run will blow away the cobwebs and Oisin Murphy – who was in the saddle at Dunstall Park – keeps the ride. This French import remains a maiden after 13 starts and is drawn out in the car park in stall nine but connections will be keen to get a win under her belt and she is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time.
Molinari ran a terrific race on his first start for Martin Todhunter, but he is drawn wide in stall eight and I hope he helps set the race up for the hat-trick seeking Wise Eagle (4.00) who has won over 2m – tapeta -and 1m 6f -turf – in recent weeks and drops back down another couple of furlongs at Catterick this afternoon. Leading apprentice Billy Garrity is excellent value for his 3lbs claim and I hope he can get the selection into a prominent position turning into the back straight. The 13/8 with William Hill looks about right.