Two competitive jumps cards to start the week at Fontwell and Carlisle and we begin in Cumbria where in division one of the extended 3m handicap chase Skyhill (1.00) can reverse last month’s Kelso placings with the grey To The Limit on 4lbs better terms.
Champion jockey elect Brian Hughes takes over in the saddle of Alison Hamilton’s who is a stone below his last winning mark but suggested that his turn was near last time. The selection – 5/2 at 10Bet – has never won right-handed. but was taken widest of all and jumped out to his right in the Scottish Borders last time. This stiff track should suit, and I will be disappointed if he doesn’t run a big race this afternoon.
The valuable extended 2m handicap chase would not have looked out of place at Wetherby or Musselburgh at the weekend despite only four going to post. The quartet will all have their supporters, but I am looking forward to the chase debut of Ribble Valley (3.20) who returns to the track after a 436- day lay-off.
The selection – 11/4 with William Hill – has an excellent record fresh and has won five of his eight career starts but Brian Hughes, who has been in the saddle for four of those wins, takes the ride on Mackenburg for his principal stable of Donald McCain.
The market is headed by Tokay Dokey who looked a better horse going right-handed when scoring at Market Rasen last time. He was taken out of a race at Leicester last week on account of the good ground but there should be no excuses on ground given as good to soft with soft places on Sunday.
Grand Turina (3.55) was surely feeling the affects of her race just a week earlier in heavy ground at Warwick when a disappointing favourite at Wetherby last month and she has been given a month off by Venetia Williams.
She gets a narrow vote ahead of favourite Maid O’Malley in the Mares handicap chase with Ned Fox – who was in the plate for her two chase wins in December – returning to the saddle. There is no better chase jockey riding than Charlie Deutsch, but Fox is excellent value for his 10lbs claim. The 5/2 with 10Bet is about right.
At Fontwell Le Cameleon has dropped to an attractive mark and I like the booking of David Bass for Nick Williams’ 7-y-old who is very well treated on his best form. My two against the field, however, are Foxboro (1.50) and Premiumaccess with the former getting the vote for Robert Walford. The selection was well backed when a close third in what looked a stronger race at Kempton last time.
I remember when the French import made his chase debut at Plumpton just over 12 months ago and thinking he would win plenty of races over fences. He has yet to win in six subsequent starts, but the handicapper has relented, and Angus Cheleda got a good tune out of him last time. The recommendation is 5/2 with MansionBet.