Free Tip – Western Victory

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2:10 Doncaster – Western Victory

Free Tip – On the Wings Of A Dove

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2:45 Lingfield – Wings Of A Dove

Free Tip – Eklat De Rire

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3:05 Gowran Park – Eklat De Rire

Free Tip – Excellent chance for the outsider of five

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2:50 Wincanton – Flagrant Delitiep

A case can be made for (what was) the outsider of the five, FLAGRANT DELITIEP here. He’s not been in the same form as last year this time around, and he cut out a bit quickly for comfort at Chepstow last time to be confident about him, but he reappears quickly enough after that disappointing effort to think that whatever was ailing him, it was hopefully a one-off.

We are of the opinion he’s a better horse going right-handed and today’s test should suit him, so from a 6lb lower mark than when narrowly beaten over C&D last February, he has an excellent chance if bouncing back to anywhere near his best form.

Free Tip – Making Hay

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4:30 Southwell – Van Dijk

Numerically speaking, this is around the time when Antony Brittain makes hay each year and after a couple of winners at the weekend, he might be a yard worth keeping an eye on over the next few weeks.(Indeed, three places at big prices yesterday only underlines this.)

VAN DIJK is his representative here. To say he’s got a mind of his own is an understatement, as a refusal to race at Wolverhampton back in November shows, but he came back from that run to show some unusual early pace (tends to come from off the back) here last Friday, travelling sweetly enough on the front until his fitness told.

Ideally you’d like this to be run at a good pace and there are no guarantees of that, but maybe they’ll go to the front again with him.

It’s all about what mood he’s in, but offer me a daft price and I’d be willing to chance him. If it’s not today, then his turn might not be far away.

Free Tip – Thomas Equinas

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1:15 Kempton – Thomas Equinas

Monday sees no jumps action in Britain after a bumper weekend bolstered by ARC’s Winter Million initiative at Lingfield, which seemed to go down very well, although a grandstand finish to the feature race was marred by the fatal fall of Master Tommytucker.

It was a memorable weekend, all told, but it’s back to the mundanity of three all-weather meetings, which is a bit of a shift, mentally.

The Kempton card opens with the Unibet Horserace Betting Operator Of The Year Handicap, in which the Richard Hannon-trained Exceling immediately jumps off the page, being a dual C&D winner who has the speed to make the most of the inside berth.

He’s respected, but I am keen to side with potential improver THOMAS EQUINAS now that this well-bred sort drops to a sprint trip for the first time. He’s shown bright speed in three starts over 7f to date, and connections have used a similar ploy for their handicappers in the past.

Thomas Equinas’s half-sister Hot Chesnut qualified for handicaps over 7f before improving for the drop to 6f in her first two handicaps, beaten narrowly each time, while owners Michael and Heather Yarrow won a dozen sprints, including the Stewards’ Cup, with Lancelot du Lac, but he did all his early racing over 7f.

Many trainers attempt to keep their charges ahead of the handicapper by racing over trips which are too short, but the system works just as well in reverse, and I have no doubt that Thomas Equinas will be better as a sprinter having failed to last home so far.

He can race freely, and the faster pace sprints are run at will help him settle, and he ought to prove well in advance of the form he’s shown to date now given a better chance to express his talent.

Free Tip – Empressive Lady

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2:20 Ascot – Empressive Lady

Free Tip – Keep The Faith

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2:05 Market Rasen – Keep The Faith

There are a couple of juveniles of interest in the Matchbook Betting Exchange Handicap Hurdle, and at the prices, I’m prepared to have a stab at Keep The Faith who represents the shrewd team of Mick and David Easterby. Angels Landing is the other 4-y-o, and the Ian Williams-trained filly has very obvious claims, as indicated by her place at the head of the market.

Keep The Faith makes less appeal on what he’s achieved over timber, but he was clueless on debut, swerving and unseating his rider, so has gained a mark for just two runs, neither of which showed him in his best light. An indication of his chance here is that if he met Astroman on the Flat, he would receive just 4lb in a handicap, but he gets a full two stone here on the back of a couple of potentially misleading runs.

Whilst it is undeniable that Astroman has achieved more over hurdles at this point, getting raised a pound for his Fakenham third looks a miserly thing for the handicapper to do, given the form hasn’t worked out at all. Keep The Faith has always looked a handicap project and the fact that he’s getting a 13lb weight-for-age allowance he’s not entitled to on the Flat is clearly an angle worth working, for all it applies to Angels Landing as well.

Free Tip – Not A Role Model can bounce back to form.

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2:30 Ludlow – Not A Role Model

I would like to think that this, the Billy Preston Handicap, is in honour of the only musician that wasn’t actually a Beatle to get a credit on any of their singles (Get Back, Popmaster fans) but I suspect not.

For all there’s a Venetia runner coming back off an absence, normally enough to make us reach for the back button, Gardefort is 13 now and doesn’t really fit the usual pattern of one of hers. The form is there and this trip rather than further probably suits him best, but all the same, it’s NOT A ROLE MODEL that’s the one we want to be with today.

He ran poorly at Fakenham last time out, his normally solid jumping not in evidence but he was held up behind horses there and he’s best when ridden prominently and given space at his fences, as was the case at Chepstow the time before when second in a very competitive handicap that’s worked out well.

For all he jumps a bit left, he’s fine on right-handed tracks, as wins at both Kempton and Wincanton show, and with the ground in his favour, we can see him bouncing back to form.

Topofthecotswolds might be the danger, especially if they do go a little quick up front, as he looks the one that would benefit from a pace collapse.

A little out of his depth in the Racing Post Chase last time, his second to the improving Palmers Hill at Wetherby earlier in the year is a solid effort and would give him every chance here.

Free Tip – Ar Mest can go well at a price.

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2:25 Newbury – Ar Mest

The Newbury card on Wednesday ought to be informative, and it provides the best of the betting opportunities on the day too. The novice races make little punting appeal, but the Book The Lodge Hotel At Newbury Racecourse Handicap Hurdle looks a race to get involved in. The first thing to note is that there is a great deal of early pace on show, and that means the race should be set up for a strong stayer.

The horse who catches my eye at a big price is the once useful AR MEST, who has dropped 6lb below last season’s most recent winning mark. He’s had two runs on unsuitably quick ground for Jack (Ralph) Smith, and although he hasn’t changed stables as such, is now under the care of Harriet Brown, who has taken over Syd Hosie’s horses in Dorset.

Harriet hasn’t had much time to get her feet under the table, but she produced Trump Lady to win easily at 40/1 in the Hosie colours at Exeter on Tuesday, and I think the yard’s horses are now worth following after a period of upheaval. Ar Mest has a record over jumps on good or good to soft ground below Class 2 level of 311U31, and kept away from extremes of going is still a decent tool. He will get this race run to suit, and if he’s back to his recent best after a short spell on the sidelines, he can go well at a big price.