Good morning all,
On day when evening racing comes back into focus, it’s one of those meetings that we’ve concentrated on today with Southwell’s card looking the most likely to throw up a winner or two for us. Rory has one at Ayr he likes as well, a horse that landed a good touch for us last season when we advised him early at 10-1, and won nicely at an SP of 3-1.
2.00 Ayr – 1pt win Love Marmalade (18-1 Stan James)
5.55 Southwell – 1pt e/w Hopeand (already advised at 12-1 last night but now drifting – 14-1 available in two places)
6.25 Southwell – lay 5pts Mr Mercurial at 1.6 in running (to lose 3pts)
6.55 Southwell – 1pt win Yes Daddy (4-1 Bet Victor, Paddy Power, Stan James)
7.25 Southwell – 2pts win Ruaraidh Hugh (general 5-2, Ladbrokes 11-4 a standout)
2.00 – 2m Handicap Hurdle (class 3)
Last season we put up LOVE MARMALADE at Musselburgh taking a massive class drop after a decent run, and it’s worth taking the chance that now he’s back on better ground, which is an absolute must for him, he may be able to bounce back from some moderate efforts. It could be that Spring is the time to catch him as well (three of his four wins have come in April/May), and given he was able to win off 75 on the Flat, a mark of 105 today looks well within his compass. Four runs over hurdles to achieve that mark have all been on soft/heavy ground, so are easily forgiven, and a better showing from a shrewd yard would not be a surprise.
5.55 – 2m Handicap Chase (class 4)
Moonlight Maggie and To The Sky will be popular for this poor contest but neither are solid options. Moonlight Maggie finally got her head in front last time out here at the Nottinghamshire venue, but she’s thrown winning opportunities away before and her jumping technique is still far from the finished article. At 6-4 she makes little appeal, even in a race as poor as this. To The Sky is more consistent but also has his quirks and can hang quite badly, and although he has conditions to suit, it’s a guessing game as to how he’ll take to the portable fences. One that has already won over these fences, however, is HOPEAND and she’s worth taking a chance on at a bigger price. She’s been rather out of her depth in races a little better than this and has had excuses for both her runs this year (couldn’t lead at Southwell, ground too soft at Leicester) but she has a chance to pop out in front here and get in a rhythm. She can be hard to peg back when doing so and is only 2lb higher than a fairly easy victory last summer at Worcester. Ground is ideal and she’s worth chancing.
6.25 – 2m4f Hunter Chase
It’s rare we play hunter chases but there’s an obvious bet here and that’s to lay the reluctant MR MERCURIAL in running. He’s already chucked away winning opportunities at basement prices (beaten at 1.01 and 1.05) in two of his three runs this season and is clearly not straightforward. A visor has been tried, blinkers have been tried and today there’s no headgear at all but a tongue tie is added. It does all smack a little of “try something else” rather than actually knowing what the issue is that’s stopping him winning, and if he got himself beaten again at a short price today it would be no surprise. It’s not like the opposition is poor, either – Owen Glendower would be a big threat if ready to roll after a break, Gansey was no slouch either, and both Catch Tammy and Roby De Cimbre have form on quick ground too.
6.55 – 2m Handicap Hurdle (class 4)
Whether you’d trust Mr Lando to repeat the dose he dished out at Huntingdon is a moot point, as he’s never been the most consistent but fair play to Alison Batchelor in getting a win out of him, something his previous trainer, Gordon Elliott, couldn’t do! If he’s allowed a soft lead again tonight he would be dangerous but that’s not guaranteed with Ravenous in the field and a better play might be YES DADDY, who has been shaping well on the Flat recently and returns to the venue of his hurdles win of last season. He won that race well, battling on with great determination up the straight, and was far from disgraced in much better company next time out at Cheltenham. Quick ground clearly suits and it will be a surprise if Robert Stephens can’t place him to good effect over the summer.
Ice N Easy faces an easier task than of late and might prove troublesome, but he’d ideally want a bit further. Moidore looked an absolute shadow of himself last time out though and can’t be entertained.
7.25 – 2m4f 100yds Handicap Hurdle (class 4)
These look a moderate bunch at best at it represents an excellent chance for RUARAIDH HUGH to follow up on his Market Rasen victory last week. Well backed that day and ridden with plenty of confidence, he merely had to be pushed out from two out to gain an easy victory, and this extra furlong and a half will only help him further on that evidence. He’s only 1lb higher here, in effect, and if he only reproduces that effort it would be good enough. The fact that he should improve again only makes him look even more attractive and he really ought to be a shorter price than he is this morning.
The fact that second favourite Rocky Rebel only won a selling hurdle last time tells you all you need to know about the quality of the race, and it’s quite possible there’s something at a big price that could improve and get involved. Craigdancer looks by far the most likely of those at larger odds, having run considerably better on his handicap debut at Market Rasen, but he didn’t look the easiest of conveyances in the closing stages when put under pressure. Nevertheless, he is at least going the right way and can be considered.
David & Rory