The ground is drying out at Wincanton, and I would expect conditions to be no worse than good to soft for today’s seven-race card.

I thought Esprit De Somoza (1.15) was value for more than the winning margin of 3L from Iron Mike – 6lbs better off – when scoring over today’s C&D last month. At the time of writing Jane Williams’ last two runners have struck gold and I think there might be more to come from this 8-year-old who will appreciate the drying ground.

The selection – 7/2 with 10Bet– was rated 130 over hurdles as a novice but didn’t take to fences when trained by Gary Moore a couple of seasons ago, but he jumped well in the main here last month and the hope is that he can build on that success.

I am slightly concerned about the drop back in trip for Whydah Gally (2.45) who chased home Sidi Ismail over a trip just shy of three miles at Lingfield last time and the winner is now rated 21lbs higher over fences following a couple of successes over the larger obstacles in the interim period.

The selection – 11/4 from 7/2 with Boylesports – will not be rated 113 when he goes over fences, but he is unlikely to be going over the larger obstacles until next term and the hope is that he can take a handicap hurdle before he switches his attentions to the larger obstacles for Colin and Joe Tizzard.

I am surprised to see Rebecca Curtis keep to a right-hand track for Pennyforapound who jumped left throughout at Taunton last time. In the circumstances he ran a terrific race to finish third, three lengths behind the runner up Velasco (3.15) who is 4lbs worse off this afternoon.

That doesn’t tell the whole story, however, as the selection – 5/2 with Boylesports – made a bad error early in the race and was almost brought to a standstill. I thought, in the circumstances, he ran a terrific race and is taken to go one better with the Curtis runner likely to lose ground by jumping out to his left again.

Aki Bomaye appeared not to get home at Huntingdon last time over a trip just shy of three miles and today’s additional distance is not certain to suit. He was not beaten far last time but he was one of three in line at the last and lost two more places on the run in.

At Ludlow Mumbo Jumbo (2.00) can go one better than when second at Doncaster last time when he jumped and travelled very well but lacked a change od gear. He is another who will jump a fence in time, but connections appear to have found a decent opportunity in the extended 2m 5f maiden hurdle. The selection is 7/4 from 2s with MansionBet.

Hunter Chases are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I love them and Not That Fuisse could easily turn the first of the year into a procession, but I am not convinced he will stay three miles and he would ideally want better ground. I wonder if connections are considering a crack at the Aintree Foxhunters.

From a point of handicapping Hogan’s Height is the one to beat but he has been sadly out of sorts so far this term and the nod goes to Nicky Henderson’s Another Venture (3.30) who finished third on his fist start for the stable at Cheltenham back in November under todays inexperienced pilot.

The selection – 2s with Boylesports – has not finished out of the first three in three starts at Ludlow and soft/good to soft ground is ideal. He must give 8lbs to Hogan’s Height and his rider has never ridden a winner under rules, but it looks as if a relative – presumably his mother – has bought the horse for him to ride in Hunter Chases.

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