The ground was watered at Epsom earlier in the week to avoid the prospect of firm ground for their classic weekend although there was the prospect of a rogue shower hitting the track on Wednesday evening.
Uttoxeter are watering to maintain good ground ahead of today’s card and Ernesto looks sure to go close in the near 2m 4f handicap hurdle having broke his duck over timber when landing a maiden hurdle at Exeter last time. Ian Williams has his string in good form, and he should appreciate today’s additional distance but my each way vote goes to Gateway To Europe (3.30) who is visored for the first time by Neil King.
The selection finished runner up over the minimum distance here from an 8lbs higher mark back in August and he has a course record of 222 over hurdles. Bryony Frost has been in the saddle for the selection’s two career wins, and she is in the saddle this afternoon. One note of caution the stable have not exactly been firing in the winners of late. That said the 9s available on Wednesday was too big and the ew recommendation is 13/2 with Boylesports at the time of posting.
The concluding 2m handicap chase is a cracker with Larch Hill and Zuckerburg much respected, but the Irish point winner Tardree (5.10) ran a terrific race when third at Market Rasen over hurdles last month in a race that is working out well. The selection – 9/4 with 10Bet – has been raised 5lbs for that effort but can race from his old mark this afternoon. Trainer Laura Morgan continues to impress and her burgeoning partnership with Adam Wedge is one that is likely to continue to develop.
The mile handicap at Chelmsford this evening is an absolute cracker with a number of leading yards represented with unexposed three-year-olds. Kaheal is unbeaten on the all-weather and must go close on his seasonal debut but my two against the field are Great King and Inveigle (6.30) with the latter getting the each way vote at a double figure price.
The ew selection – 10s with BetVictor – runs in the colours of Her Majesty the Queen and was a bitter disappointment on his reappearance at Newmarket when a beaten favourite. He steps up to a mile for the first time this evening and a return to the polytrack should suit given he broke his maiden over 7f here back in October. He must learn to settle better if he is to fulfil his potential, but he is highly regarded at the Michael Bell yard and gets a narrow vote in what promises to be a most informative contest.
Sea Empress (8.00) must give 6lbs to her 11 rivals in the concluding fillies novices event, but she is a beautifully bred filly who created such a favourable impression when winning at Newcastle on debut.There was 11/8 available on Wednesday but she is into odds on at the time of posting.
In the fillies’ handicap at Thirsk this evening I expect to see Despoina (7.15) improve for the step up to 12f for the first time for Brian Ellison and Ben Robinson. The form of her fourth at Leicester over 10f last time was given a boost when the runner up went one better back at Oadby on Monday. The selection – 4s at 10Bet – has been dropped 1lb for that run and there is plenty of stamina on the distaff side of the family. She looks to have the market leader Can Can Girl to beat, but I would be disappointed if she did not get the better of the sole three-year-old in the field.