Rain forecast for Catterick on Sunday and conditions should be ideal for top-weight Almazhar Garde (3.15) who is taken to make all in the 3m 1f+ handicap chase. Charlie Longsdon’s chaser was collared close him over an additional half-mile here last month and a 2lbs rise looks fair. The 4s ew with MansionBet looks fair.
I expect jockey Luca Morgan to set a decent gallop and that might see off The Paddy Pie who has yet to win beyond two-and-a-half miles although he ran very well at Wetherby last time.
I’m not convinced Omar Moretti achieved a great deal when winning over fences at Newcastle last time although he has scope for further improvement, won both hurdle starts here last season as a novice and also landed a couple of races between the flags.
A bigger danger might be the Evan Williams’ trained Winds Of Fire who I backed at Ascot last time – when heavily supported – but I was disappointed with the run.
Earlier in the card I hope to see Just Call Me Al (1.30) follow up his Sedgefield win from a 4lbs higher mark for Gillian Boanas. That form was given a boost when the second – Road Warrior – was just touched off at Doncaster by a rejuvenated horse of Alan King who had been given a real chance by the handicapper. That Sedgefield victory came on good ground and I wouldn’t want soft ground for the selection.
Note the ground has turned soft since the time of writing.
There was also a band of rain due to hit Plumpton yesterday ahead of todays meeting and conditions are likely to ease from the mix of good and good to soft that was the official description on Sunday.
Ubetya was a horse I had plenty of time for over hurdles on soft ground and he has his first start for Paul Nicholls having been off the track for over 400-days. The excellent Bravemansgame and Red Risk were impressive winners for the yard on Saturday but Clan Des Obeaux and Hitman were not at their best. A check of the market is advised for Ubetya and the more rain the better. He is the only runner on the card for the 12-time champion trainer.
Red Happy (4.05) went out like a light over the Railway fences for the second time at Sandown on his British debut. David Pipe has given his French import a wind operation prior to today’s run and he also drops him back in trip by three furlongs to just shy of 2m 1f.
Pipe has not exactly been firing in the winners himself, but his horses have run well enough in defeat, and this looks a decent opportunity. There was a bit of money about for Red happy at Sandown and the handicapper has seen fit to drop him 5lbs for that effort. The selection is 11/4 at Boylesports.