Conditions were described as good to soft at Wincanton on Sunday morning but with another dry day forecast the ground is likely to be nearer good for their eight-race card.
In the opener I am keen on the chance of Ambion Hill (1.30) dropping back to the minimum trip having tanked his way through the race at Warwick last time before he found the combination of two-and-a-half miles on heavy ground too much of a test. A sound jumper he remains a maiden after 16 starts but I hope to see Brendan Powell make plenty of use of his mount back down to two miles.
Doyannie is a strong traveller who is another who looks as if he will be well served by the drop back to two miles and he represents a big danger, but I will be disappointed if the Colin Tizzard trained 8-y-old does not run a big race and the 4/1 with William Hill looks fair each way.
Recommendation: Ambion Hill 1.30 Wincanton Nap at 4/1 EW with William Hill
The Russian Doyen did us a favour at Newbury last time and that firm has been franked by the subsequent win of the runner up. He has been raised 7lbs for that effort, but he has won from much higher marks in the past and is the one to beat.
As long as the ground is genuinely good, I do feel, however, that Glajou (2.55) could be overpriced at 4/1 in the four-runner feature 2m handicap chase. The selection has only had the two starts so far this term and has been off the track since finishing weakly at Taunton over 2m 2f back in December.
The return to the minimum trip will suit, he has been dropped 4lbs for that latest run and the 5/1 with William Hill available first thing looked too big. Trainer Paul Nicholls had a disappointing Cheltenham, to put it mildly, but his 6-y-old has been nibbled at in the betting to 4/1. I will be disappointed if he doesn’t run a big race and the faster the ground the better.
Recommendation: Glajou 2.55 Wincanton at 4/1 with William Hill
Over to Southwell and Steel Wave (1.00) was easily brushed aside by First Figaro in a Veterans’ Chase at Doncaster last time. At first glance it looked a disappointing run, but the winner has dotted up since and the 12-y-old – while obviously not the force of old – remains in excellent form.
The selection has five rivals to contend with today, three failed to finish last time and the other two were beaten a long way. Tabitha Worsley gets on well with the veteran and she returns to the saddle this afternoon.
Recommendation: Steel Wave 1.00 Southwell at 7/4
I am keen to take on hat-trick seeking Minella Hub who has been put in as the 7/4 market leader in the 2m handicap chase. Out On The Tear and Clear The Runway are respected but I feel the race will be set up for Across The Line (1.35) and he gets the vote for Dan and Harry Skelton who also endured a frustrating Cheltenham Festival.
The selection won over C&D from just a 1lb lower mark on good ground here in November and looked ready for a return to the minimum distance when fading close home at Doncaster over further last time.
Out On The Tear ran well in a better race at Newbury last time behind The Russian Doyen – runs at Wincanton – and he is taken to follow the se3lection home. Clear The Runway may find things happening too quickly on this better ground dropped to the minimum distance.
Recommendation: Across The Line 1.35 Southwell at 7/2