Modest afternoon fare for a Friday but there is a fascinating marathon extended 2m 1f handicap at Carlisle.
Only five go to post but the quintet all hold realistic claims. Call My Bluff heads the market having run a terrific race on his reappearance at Chester when third in the race for those who did not make the cut for the Chester Cup. He is only 1lb higher in the weights this afternoon and may have more to offer as a stayer this term.
Military Two Step disappointed at Ripon last time but is beginning to look well treated on his best form. This marathon trip on good ground, however, is ideal for WYNFORD (4.00) and he gets the vote despite being 1lb wrong at the weights.
The selection has never won from a mark this high, but he has been hinting at a return to form in recent starts and could be the value receiving weight from his rivals. He would not wish the race to turn tactical as he is a thorough stayer although Ernesto went from the front at Ascot last time. It would be no surprise to see Franny Norton try and make all on Military Two Step.
Recommendation: Wynford 4.00 Carlisle at 5/1 with William Hill
Harry Davies has a strong book of rides at Chepstow and AMALFI BAY (5.25) is taken to land the finale for the Charltons. The selection ran a terrific race at Nottingham over an inadequate trip on his comeback and this return to a mile-and-a-half will suit. The opening 11/8 with William Hill looks a bit short and I believe there will be bigger prices available overnight and on raceday.
Thai Power finished last of five at Newmarket on his reappearance but wasn’t beaten far on his first start in over 600 days. A market move for the Andrew Balding trained 5-y-old would be worth noting although he may need further.
Recommendation: Amalfi Bay 5.25 Chepstow at 11/8 with William Hill
There is a good evening card at Haydock this evening and the 7f Novice event for juveniles is a cracker with a number of the top yards represented. One would imagine the winner will be bound for the Chesham at Royal Ascot next month.
There is also a fascinating 12f Novice event, and I am loath to desert Nicholas George who did us a favour when scoring at Redcar on soft ground earlier in the spring. He carries a 7lbs penalty for that success, however, and I am convinced there is more to come from ALMUHIT (6.55), and he gets the each way vote.
The selection is a brother of the Oaks winner Taghrooda, and he was slowly away at Newbury last time when forced to cover ground out wide before meeting interference two out. He would never have been involved in the finish, but he would have finished a couple of lengths nearer with an untroubled passage. He will have to improve to take a hand this evening, but he is Jim Crowley’s only mount on the card and Gosden(s) stick with the blinkers they wore at Newbury.
Recommendation: Almuhit EW 6.55 Newbury at 9/1 with 888sport
If the Haydock card is good the Stratford card is tremendous and a fitting end to the Hunter Chase season. The Stratford executive are often overzealous with the watering can which is a slight concern – there is nothing wrong with producing good ground.
Capitaine will appreciate the drop back to the minimum trip in the opener having failed to get home over an additional half-mile at Kempton last time. Seven of the greys eight wins under rules have come right-handed, however, and I hope he helps set the race up for LONGHOUSE SALE (5.35) who gets the vote under Gina Andrews.
The selection has only won one of his five starts in points for his current yard, but he wouldn’t get three miles in a horsebox, and this drop back to 2m 1f will suit. He was rated in the 140s as a novice chaser for Dan Skelton, is still only an eight-year-old and should have the race run to suit.
Recommendation: Longhouse Sale 5.35 Stratford at 10/3 with Paddy Power
I hope it’s a good night for Gina Andrews as the wonderfully named LATENIGHTFUMBLE (6.35) is taken to land the John Corbet Cup for the Champion Novice Hunter Chaser despite a strong Irish challenge.
The selection only just got home at Cheltenham last time on her rules debut, but she jumped and travelled very well before not finding as much as expected from the last. The selection is actually 7lbs better off with the second Go Go Geronimo this evening taking jockeys’ allowances into consideration, but he still looks the main danger as he stayed on all the way to the line at Cheltenham and will appreciate this step up in trip.
Recommendation: Latenightfumble 6.35 Stratford at 9/4 with Bet365
VAUCELET (7.05) won the John Corbet Cup at this meeting last season, and he is a confident selection to follow up 12 months on in the feature Horse & Hound Cup for Irish handler David Christie. The selection finished runner up to Cheltenham Foxhunters winner Billaway at Punchestown last time when he would surely have won had he not missed out the last. Christie also has Winged Leader – second at Cheltenham in his care – so he certainly deserves to land a big one this spring.
Bob And Co fell at halfway at Cheltenham when sent off at just 11/2, and Paul Nicholls looks sure to have his 11-year-old primed for this evening, but I don’t think he is quite in the same class as Vaucelet who will be tough to be beat if over his Punchestown exertions.
Recommendation: Vaucelet 7.05 Stratford at 11/8 with Bet365