These are nervy times for the 12-time champion trainer Paul Nicholls who suggested on Monday that he wouldn’t have a runner this week until Huntingdon on Thursday although he failed to declare any runners on Tuesday for today’s card at the 48-hour stage. Nicholls has suggested their dip in form may be down to a dodgy batch of hay.
Dolos did win at Sandown for the yard last weekend but there is no question that the vast majority of his string have underperformed in recent weeks with high profile runners Frodon and Greaneteen running stinkers in Ireland – although Bryony Frost took the wrong course with the latter on Sunday. He is due to saddle more stable stars Bravemansgame, Hitman and Clan Des Obeaux at Newbury on Saturday; let’s hope they are declared on Thursday morning and give their true running.
Today’s Huntingdon meeting is tremendous with the listed Sydney Banks Hurdle – won by Shishkin two years ago – the feature contest. The mare Elle Est Belle carries a 5lbs penalty for her listed win at Newbury on her penultimate start and I do believe the step up in distance will see the mare in an even better light. She finished third – running on – in the Champion Bumper last spring behind Sir Gerhard and Kilcruit and was not suited by the funerial early gallop when beaten 5L behind Jonbon last time.
The vote, however, goes to Wonderwall (3.10) who did us a favour when scoring at Doncaster last time and is considered well above average by connections. He finished 7L behind the mare in the Champion Bumper but is 5lbs better off. The opening 2/1 & 9/4 looked attractive but the market may have overcompensated. I presumed Elle Est Belle would head yhe market and th selection is now just 11/8 with 10Bet.
Thunder Rock (3.45) didn’t jump as well as Cobbler’s Dream when he scored at Wetherby on his penultimate start, but that form was given a huge boost when the runner up won the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton last month. The selection – 11/10 at MansionBet – has since landed the odds in an egg and spoon race at Musselburgh, and he looks well treated off his current mark.
I thought Road Warrior (2.45) ran a fine race when runner up at Sedgefield last time under today’s 10lbs conditional Peter Coleman and I hope he can go one better from the same mark at Doncaster. The recommendation is 9/4 with Boylesports.
I think top-weight Mulcahy’s Hill – visored for the first-time – represents the biggest danger.The Warren Greatrex yard had a winner at Taunton earlier in the week and the handicapper has dropped his representative 15lbs for his three starts since coming back from a long absence. I thought there were distinct signs of a return to form last time.
Yggdrasil (2.27) has been off the track for three months since he scored at Bangor-on-Dee from just a 3lbs lower mark on his chase debut. This half-brother to Siruh Du Lac – 10/3 with 10Bet – has the potential to rate higher and this 5-y-old still receives 5lbs weight-for-age from the older horses. The forecast soft ground at Ffos Las looks ideal.