Conditions were described as heavy at Lingfield on Thursday morning for day one of their three-day Winter Million Festival.
The mares’ novices handicap chase is a belter and I hope to see an improved show from Pure Bliss (1.20) who steps up in trip for her handicap debut. She is taken to reverse last month’s Exeter form with Deja Vue despite being just 2lbs better off for the 9L she was behind the winner on what was her seasonal reappearance.
Harry Fry’s mare travelled wide and jumped left at Hereford over the minimum trip earlier in the month but was doing all her best work late on and looked to be crying out for a step back up in distance. A winner between the flags I hope the step up to two-and-a-half miles will suit and she certainly has the scope to jump a fence. The 13/2 available on Thursday looks fair each way.
Legends Ryde is another who should appreciate the return to a lefthanded track, and she looks sure to go close in a race were all six who go to post hold realistic claims.
Paul Townend will be on board Energumene in the Clarence House Chase at Ascot tomorrow, but he is also riding Carrerea for Emmet Mullins and the Irish raider has been well supported earlier in the week. The 5-y-old would have got up in another stride at Clonmel last time and would have been the selection were it not for the fact that he is unproven on soft/heavy ground with both Bumper victories coming on decent ground.
Marginal preference is for the Grade 1 winner Metier (2.25) who cannot have the ground soft enough and looked a future star when running away with the Tolworth Hurdle this time last year. I thought Harry Fry’s 6-y-old showed more at Ascot last time to warrant close consideration from a mark of 139. The form of the yard is a slight concern but the 9/2 is a fair ew price.
I did not think Chambard (3.35) was going a yard at Exeter at New Year, but he picked up the bridle after five out and the race was all over by the time, they jumped the first in the home straight. The 10-y-old remains fairly treated despite a 9lbs rise in the weights and he should have the race run to suit with Neil The Legend likely to ensure a decent gallop. Lucy Turner takes off a valuable 7lbs. The 11/2 looks reasonable each way.
There is a good card at Market Rasen where I am looking forward to seeing Sunset West (3.15) race right-handed for the first time. The ew selection – 11/2 with William Hill – jumped right when beaten 3L on his chase debut at Ayr back in November and this winning point-to-pointer in his native Ireland looks sure to run well for Phil Kirby who has not saddled a winner this year but has had six second placed finishes in the last fortnight. He is due a change of luck.