The ground is likely to be good at Fakenham for todays seven-race card with no further rain forecast in Norfolk until the weekend at the earliest.
Milton Harris has his string in excellent shape and Bill And Barn will take some passing if getting a soft lead having made all to score at Plumpton last time from a 5lbs lower mark. His stamina for three miles is guaranteed but I hope to see Rebel Leader (12.40) improve for the step up in trip as he bids for a hat-trick for Dr Richard Newland.
The selection – 11/8 from 6/4 with MansionBet – has won at Perth (2m 4f) and Stratford (2m 6f+) in recent weeks and a 5lbs rise for his latest fluent win in the midlands looks fair. The horse who finished runner up to the selection in Scotland has subsequently gone one better and the 7-y-old did win over 3m between the flags although he appeared not to get home at this trip over hurdles at Uttoxeter back in the summer.
There is a valuable mares’ handicap hurdle and Megan (2.25) is 10lbs better off with Talking About You for the 9L she was behind the top-weight at Aintree back in December. The selection – 11/10 with 10Bet – has race fitness on her side and she ran a terrific race when fourth at Ascot last time on ground that may have been softer than ideal. The filly has been dropped 1lb for that run and the hope is that Sorbet sets a decent gallop for Ciaran Gethings to chase.
No Comment goes unpenalized for comfortably winning a 3m conditional jockeys veterans’ chase at Huntingdon last week although the race fell apart and he has been put in the betting short enough at 7/4. He had dropped like a stone in the weights, and it is possible that his confidence will have been restored, but he has never struck me as the heartiest of battlers and this is a stronger race.
I was gutted that Quoi De Neuf (3.00) finished runner up at Aintree first time out last season although the runner up Canelo is now rated 15lbs higher and the third – Time To Get Up – is now a leading fancy for the Grand National in the spring. The selection – 10/3 with 10Bet – meanwhile is 6lbs lower and the Evan Williams’ trained 7-y-old has an excellent record fresh. I think the chasing newcomer Major Dundee could be the danger.
If there is a star on show this afternoon it is likely to be the Kim Bailey trained Kyntara (3.15) in the concluding maiden hurdle at Lingfield over an extended 2m 3f. The selection – 10/11 with William Hill – is unbeaten in two starts and looked a horse of some potential when scoring by 17L on heavy ground for the yard at Warwick back in February. His previous point win came on soft ground and connections would not want the ground to dry out too much. Note both Bailey trained runners on the card – other Pipesmoker – run in the colours of Lady Dulverton.
Sauce Of Life was a costly reverse for the Nicky Richards team at Wetherby at the weekend but he has a formidable team of novice hurdlers this term and the best of them could be Soft Risk (12.30) who makes his hurdles debut in the opener at Ayr. The selection – 11/10 from 5/4 with William Hill – looked smart when winning a Bumper here by 9L on soft ground back in May and there is the prospect of further showers on ground given as good to soft on Monday morning.
I have always thought African Dancer would make a better chaser than hurdler and a market move for Olly Murphy’s dual winning hurdler would be worth noting with Sean Bowen a rare booking for the yard.
Animore (2.50) gets 9lbs from the top-weight and is fitted with cheekpieces for the first time having made a terrible blunder here last month when she was only beaten half a length from a 1lb lower mark. The mare – 7/4 with MansionBet – had previously won at Hexham, and she can return to winning ways if the headgear sharpens up her concentration.
Do note Murphy also saddles Finawn Bawn in the 3m handicap chase later in the card. He has not seen the track for over two years and has been put in short enough at 5/2 but he is one to consider going forward.