Heavy ground forecast at Hexham for todays seven-race card and I shall be keeping a close eye on the market regarding Sophie Olivia (12.20) who has her second start for Tristan Davidson having left the yard of Martin Todhunter last season.
The mare – 11/2 with William Hill 4 places – was nibbled at in the betting when trying to keep tabs on Heart Of Kernow – also subject of a major punt – over two miles on her first start for the yard last month and she can race from a mark 12lbs lower than her chase win here over this trip – albeit over three years ago.
This is her second start since having a wind operation earlier in the year and I would expect to see Harry Reed ride a more patient race back at this 2m 4f distance. Both her career wins have been at this trip and both at Hexham.
Daryl Jacob travels to the northeast for just the one ride and I hope Del Mar Rocket (2.20) ensures it is not a wasted journey. The selection – 7/2 with MansionBet – won an Exeter Bumper by 14L on heavy ground on his penultimate start before finishing lame when pulling up at Wetherby back in March.
Trainer Ben Pauling said in a recent stable tour that the gelding needs soft ground and is reported to have schooled well. He will get three miles in time but this intermediate 2m 4f trip looks an ideal starting point.
There is a cracking Veterans’ handicap chase at Lingfield, and two of the nine runners are turning from a lengthy absence. French import Breizh Alko has not been seen since scoring over hurdles from a 6lbs lower mark in March 2019 while Indian Brave (2.30) has not been out since landing a Newbury handicap from a 6lbs lower mark in February 2020. The latter gets the each way vote at 7/1.
Soft ground is key to the chances of Neil Mulholland’s 10-y-old who is ridden by Kevin Brogan in this race for conditional jockeys. Of the market leaders Bill And Barn may need better ground while Native Robin represents a stable – that of Jeremy Scott – that have not had a winner from their last thirty runners.
Grand Turina looks the main danger representing the inform yard of Venetia Williams and the drop back of 2m 4f is seen as a positive.
I thought Induno (3.30) was going to be tailed off on occasions during his comeback effort at Chepstow, but he stuck to the task very well on ground that may have been faster than ideal. That was also the selections first start in over a year and the hope is that he will be a bit sharper with that run under his belt. There was 7s about first thing but he is 5s with William Hill 4 places at the end of Emmerdale
Irish import Itsgonnahappen won his sole start for previous connections a Maiden Hurdle at 25/1 but the merit of the form is debatable. Sheldon and Mr Grey Sky are handicapped to win races this season and both are considered big dangers in a terrific finale.