The ground was given as good to soft at Ffos Las ahead of today’s jumps card. One thing that has been noticeable in the last week has been the discrepancies in going descriptions.
Underfoot conditions were given as good at Cheltenham on Saturday and the clock suggested that was an accurate portrayal with the winning times about 10 seconds over the standard.
Down the road at Uttoxeter the winning times on ground similarly described as good were up to 56 seconds over standard. I appreciate there is no official description of tacky or gluey, but conditions were surely nearer heavy than good and certainly no better than soft. There was a strong head wind at Uttoxeter, but the slow motion finishes were not those that mirrored good ground and I can’t understand why clerks of the course are loath to alter official descriptions unless there is significant rain.
Fille Ilico has been raised 5lbs for winning at Wetherby last time on heavy ground when he jumped out to his right in the straight. The second has subsequently gone one better and he remains open to further improvement having scored over today’s C&D from just an 8lb lower mark on his chase debut. He looks the one to beat but Rose Sea Has (2.20) hinted at a return to form when second to Le Ligerien at Chepstow last month.
That form was hardly boosted by the run of the winner at Lingfield in their Winter Million weekend, but the grey represents the shrewd yard of Dr Richard Newland, and he has won from a mark 16lbs higher – albeit as a 4-y-old – over fences in the past. The 7/2 at the time of posting looks about right.
Natty Night (2.50) won three times on the level and got off the mark at just the second time over jumps when winning at Taunton last month when he led but propped at the last. He did well in the circumstances to get back up inside the final 100 yards. He was well on top at the end and was a winner three times on the level for William Muir.
His flat rating suggests he – and David Pipe’s Ben Lilley for that matter – could be well treated on his handicap debut. He has shown a tendency to jump left at his obstacles and today’s track should suit. The selection opened up at 9/4 with William Hill.
Rock On Rita (3.50) went out like a light at Doncaster on her seasonal reappearance but was too keen over that three-mile trip and she drops back in distance by half-a-mile this afternoon. She has been eased 4lbs by the handicapper for that run, but the hope is that she will be more amenable to restraint with that effort under her belt. She attracted market support in south Yorkshire, and it will be interesting to see if her powerful connections try and recoup their losses. The mare is 6/1 with MansionBet and William Hill 4 places.
The strong travelling Cancan has been in good form of late and he should have the race run to suit in the extended two-mile handicap hurdle at Newcastle, but I just favour Millarville (3.30) who represents the new partnership of Harriet Graham and Gary Rutherford and looked to improve for the return to hurdles when scoring at Kelso last time over 2m 2f on heavy ground. The selection is 3s with William Hill.