With atrocious weather up and down the land the racing could become a slog, especially those over the long distances.
We saw Mountainous claim a remarkable and historic victory last week in the Welsh Grand National for Kerry Lee. Can the trainer make it a big double in the Betfred Classic with Russe Blanc?
Last week’s blog saw Woodford County take the final payout place in the Welsh Grand National at around 16/1 while Le Reve was second at 13/2 giving us some each-way returns.
Here are a few value picks from today’s racing.
The first race of the day on the domestic front sees a Novices’ Hurdle over the extended 2m3f.
Petethepear comes into this with the experience of two bumper runs and two runs in Maiden Hurdles. Stuart Edmunds charge drops back in trip following his effort before Christmas at Ascot where he looked a bit one paced. He’s opened up as favourite but he looks worth taking on in an intriguing race.
Rolling Thunder can keep the good recent form of Donald McCain going. He made his stable debut in a bumper at Sedgefield on similar ground on Boxing Day. We saw the winner that day reproduce that form at Catterick on Thursday proving he bumped into one. This grey has form in Irish point-to-point races and looks like an individual with the scope to improve for an obstacle. Given time looking at connections and breeding could be one for the chasing sphere but could come good here.
Road To Gold struck gold at Kelso in a Novices’ Hurdle 41-days ago when beating Nuts Well and reversing the Maiden Hurdle form with Cornborough two starts ago. He carries a penalty for that recent success, which is against him, but he showed a good attitude at Kelso and the step-up in trip could be beneficial after he won an Irish point-to-point.
Advice: Rolling Thunder (13/2 each-way)
This is a 5f sprint contest where there looks to be plenty of early pace. We’ve seen that the Chelmsford track can suit the front runners however there could be a tear up in front leaving this for a closer.
Judicial has won four of his five starts and this unexposed four-year-old has won both starts on the synthetic surfaces – at Kempton and Wolverhampton respectively. His latest success is probably worth marking up after encountering trouble in running but still winning by a fairly comfortable margin. Up 7lb but he looks the one they all have to beat if able to transfer his form to this surface.
Drawn in stall two is Seve, who can be a hard one to weigh up. He won at Wolverhampton last time out when making all and is well-drawn to do the same here. He beat Pensax Lad that day, who has won since franking the form. However back up to Class 3 could catch him out.
With that pair both drawn low and able to lead in between them is Brother Tiger, who is likely to be ridden prominently if making the break on terms. If this was at Lingfield you would be more convinced by his chances.
Derek Shaw has a 22% strike rate on the all-weather from his last 18 runners. He saddles Dynamo Walt here and he is one that will benefit from the quick early pace. His last three wins have been over course and distance too. The draw in stall six looks ideal for him to get a good position to stalk the pace for coming with a late challenge. At a double-figure price in the majority of places he looks an attractive each-way proposition.
Advice: Dynamo Walt (12/1 each-way)
This looks a race with some useful types; it is the Class 1 Leamington Novices’ Hurdle and in recent years the likes of The New One, Deputy Dan and Three Musketeers have triumphed.
Willie Mullins sends Open Eagle and Thomas Hobson over from his Irish yard. Both were useful types on the flat and have made an impact over obstacles. Firstly Open Eagle who won at the second attempt at Fairyhouse before being beaten by the impressive Altior last time at Kempton. There are question marks surrounding his stamina for this trip. His stablemate Thomas Hobson doesn’t have the same question marks after beating Jetstream Jack last time out when making all but may not get such a soft lead here. He has chances if handling the deep ground.
The Skelton team won this last year with Three Musketeers and look to have a great chance again with Born Survivor. This son of King’s Theatre won on his stable debut showing signs of quality. Dan Skelton has spoken highly of this horse but he is a big strapping horse and in these conditions he could get a little bogged down. He does look to have a bright future ahead whatever he does in this contest.
David Dennis is proving himself a shrewd trainer and he had a nice horse in his hands with Final Nudge. He’s won two of his last four races both coming on heavy ground, so should handle this conditions. Unowhatimeanharry beat him in the Grade 2 Bristol Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham last month for the in-form trainer Harry Fry. He stayed on well in the closing stages but had no chance of catching the winner. With his experience and handling of conditions he could come back to winning ways back over this shorter trip by tracking the leaders before showing his staying power.
Advice: Final Nudge (8/1 each-way)
The Grade 3 Betfred Classic is the highlight of the day and the only gripe is that there isn’t one more runner to give us four places for each-way terms. There is plenty of front-running types in this field and if any of them are able to sustain their efforts they could prove hard to catch.
Midnight Prayer won the 4m Amateur Riders Novices’ Chase at the Cheltenham Festival in 2014 and has only been seen twice since then. He’s last effort was after an absence of a year, so to finish fourth to an improving Aloomomo was a good effort. The form of that race has taken a bit of a bump but this Alan King horse is a stayer and hinted at his old ability still being there last time out.
Mouse Morris steps Dromnea up to this marathon trip but he is related to Dinny Walsh, who was a winner over 3m2f, so there is a bit to like about this nine-year-olds chances. He’ll enjoy this deep ground with heavy being in the going description on the three occasions he has won. His last outing was in a good Leopardstown handicap and has some good form in the book. In an open renewal of this race he could just be worth taking a chance on seeing out this trip on his first attempt.
I put him up last week in the Welsh Grand National but he unseated at the eighth fence, so this is just a copy and paste job really. Red Devil Lads for Rebecca Curtis has been in fine form of late since stepping up to 3m trips. This son of Beneficial has won three of his last five, with two of them being on heavy ground. He’s looked a stout stayer in his races and the extra trip could help bring out the best in him. Sean Bowen takes over in the saddle from Jonny Burke.
Nigel Twiston-Davies’ pair of Foxbridge and Algernon Pazham both have claims on form. The former was fourth in the Midlands National raced over 4m1f, so the drop back in trip could see him get involved off this low weight while Algernon Pazham has hinted at staying these sorts of marathon trips but hasn’t totally convinced. His second at Bangor behind What A Good Night is the best in the book and would have to find a bit to reverse that form.
Sego Success has to prove he stays over 3m1f, which he is yet to do. He’s only experienced heavy ground once but was tailed off. Carrying top weight would be a concern too. Houblon Des Obeaux also shoulders top weight but this nine-year-old has done before in many top races. His mark is slipping to one, which makes him attractive but is yet to win over 3m.
Russe Blanc is trained by Kerry Lee and stayed well in March at Carlisle over 3m2f. In November he was second to Harry’s Farewell over the same trip where he was staying on late. The extra few furlongs could see this eye-catching individual get involved here carrying a relatively low weight.
Advice: Dromnea (16/1 each-way)
Red Devil Lads (18/1 each-way)