Good morning all,
12.15 Doncaster – 1pt win Minden March (14-1 various)
2.45 Lingfield – 1pt win Blue Surf (general 6-1)
3.50 Lingfield – 1pt win Saint Honore (general 10-3)
12.15 Keyhole Visuals Future Of Digital Media Handicap Hurdle (3m)
Nearly all of these have questions to answer on ground, track, trip or simply their current wellbeing, and we wouldn’t want to be taking a short price about anything. But we both agree on the most interesting horse in the race here, Minden March, who has probably taken a bit of getting fit, like most of Peter Maddison’s horses. He’s run well on his last two starts, clocking decent speed figures in the process, and on breeding is definitely worth a go at the trip. In fact he ran in this race last year, his only try at 3m, and wasn’t totally disgraced in finishing midfield. He’s just a horse that’s taken time to come to himself and has better form credentials than a few here.
Madam Lillibet is well handicapped on old form but simply looks sour, and even with blinkers on today, there’s no guarantee of that turning her fortunes around. If it does, she’ll handle conditions better than most, but she’s so risky these days, and her price is too short.
1.50 Premier Foods National Hunt Novices Hurdle (2m 140yds)
There’s no doubt that favourite Le Prezien is going the right way, and his form to date is hard to knock. The way he quickened up at Ludlow to win his race was quite impressive, and if he’s as effective on this slower ground he’ll be hard to beat. And whilst the alleged poor form of the Nicholls yard at present has been well documented, it’s not as bad as appears – granted, some have run below their marks and they’re not exactly firing winners in, but plenty are running fine and that in itself wouldn’t be a major concern. However, he does have to give a penalty away here and the ground will be different to that at Ludlow, so there are minor concerns to overcome.
Second favourite Knockanuss is the one with bigger questions to answer, in my book. Originally bought by Willie Mullins for 180,000, he never saw the track for him, being sold on to Mick Winters instead. Beaten at odds-on on heavy ground in a bumper, he then won a weak one in the Summer at Killarney (good ground), with the plan (according to the trainer) to bring him back the month after for another Bumper, but again, he went on the missing list. He now reappears for Gary Moore, who presumably entered up here looking for better ground but that’s not materialised either. Moore is 0-9 on his rare visits to Doncaster, and I’d suggest Knockanuss has been hard to train, despite his point form being very good.
With that in mind, there’s scope for an e/w bet. Unbuckled would be the obvious one but the form of her win here is far from rock solid, and given she can be keen, she’ll need to settle or she won’t get home under a penalty. Neither Desertmore Hill not Impressively Fair come from yards doing anything at present, and the one to be interested in at a massive price is Busy Baro, not disgraced in a first time hood in a Towcester Novice hurdle last time, beaten just ten lengths with all the form horses in front of him. The speed rating achieved there suggests it was no fluke, and given he jumped left at times, going left-handed today may well help him raise his game again. Trainer’s two horses this week have both finished a good second, including one at 50-1, and he’s really not as far behind the principals on form as the market would have you believe.
Update – sadly, since I typed this up at 8am this morning, we’ve had two non-runners, including Knockanuss (taken out on ground conditions) and it rather limits the scope for a bet at present. The likelihood is that the fav will win, Unbuckled will be second but I’d be looking for Busy Baro to be third. Sadly, the “without the fav” markets are very weak at present and if we all backed him e/w without the fav, the price would collapse very quickly, and we wouldn’t get on. So wait until nearer racetime and look to back him then, either three places on Betfair or e/w without the fav.
2.45 Coral Handicap (1m4f)
Whilst there’s nothing wrong with the claims of Barye or The Steward here, they look too short in the market compared to Blue Surf, a horse that did the service a tremendous turn when taking a very strong Epsom handicap at 20-1 last year. The key then is the key today – he needs to be caught fresh, and despite running over further, 1m4f is definitely his trip. Once he’d won that Epsom handicap his next three starts were at 2m (doesn’t stay), 1m2f (too short) and 1m6f (again, doesn’t fully get home) and as a result, he’s slipped back to just 1lb higher than the Epsom win. It can’t be understated how strong that form is, and although he’s no form on the A/W we don’t see that as a problem. The booking of Adam Kirby looks a plus and although many will see this as a possible warm up for a crack at the Good Friday A/W Championships, that wouldn’t really make much sense given he’s best fresh.
First Mohican isn’t a forlorn hope here either, as his run over 10f last week was promising enough over a trip simply too short for him these days, and he has the form in the bank to get competitive here too. This race could be more competitive than the market may suggest, then.
3.50 Coral.co.uk Apprentice Handicap (1m4f)
Classic Mission has been well backed to gain compensation for his disqualification here last time, but he’s been raised 4lb for that and that puts him on a mark he wasn’t able to win off last year. It could be that now he’s “won” one he’ll win again, but there’s too many seconds on the card to be confident of that.
There’s no out-and-out front runner here, and this could turn into a bit of a sprint. That will suit Saint Honore, who doesn’t have great overall speed figures but does have the best finishing percentage splits in races run in a similar style to today’s. She might even be better than she’s shown so far, as her wins have come in races where she’s not really been ridden to best advantage, and as such, she’s ended up quickening up between horses that themselves are quickening. She may look better yet when things drop right for her.
David & Rory