The end of the midweek racing and we’re seeing some real class come through in the cards. The start of the Charlie Hall meeting at Wetherby, Uttoxeter is hosting an interesting card. It’s a new month, let’s get off to a good start.
The card at Uttoxeter opens up with a class 5 handicap hurdle. The 2 market principles look to be sewing this up between them.
Percy Thrower recently went in over course and distance in an impressive display winning by 11 lengths. He followed up again 6 days later and went in again to be 2-2 since his wind op. The handicapper has now had a chance to sink his teeth in. 13lbs higher than his initial CD win it’s looking a bigger task here today. He was only shouldering 9st8lbs for that first win when you factor in Ben Godfrey’s 7lb claim. Carrying a stone more than that today will make life a lot harder for the 5 year old.
BATTLEOFTHESOMME is another entrant revelling in recent success. An absolute smash job 8 days ago at Southwell was scary. A 15 length bolt up on chase debut was fantastic. He chased the leader till 3 out, took initiative from there and drew clear easily and left competition for dead. A drop back down to hurdles and off the same mark as that last win, he’s a hard favourite to look past. Especially as he’s also dropping down in class. The Snowden yard have been in good form recently and 3lb claimer Page Fuller retains her ride. The minor concern would be the selection is unraced on soft ground. But there was a bit of cut in the turf at Southwell for the chase win. It might not be another 15 length demolition job but it’s difficult not to see him winning against a weak field.
Sticking in Uttoxeter for their next race, a Mare’s maiden hurdle. Another race, another French recruit to throw stones at.
Favourite France De Reve won a French bumper over just shy of a mile of a half 445 days ago. Picked up by powerful connections and stabled with Nicky Henderson it’s one that should be interesting. But being odds on is unjustified for a horse who won a minor French event carrying no weight over a strange distance. A PERFECT GIFT on the other hand won a course and distance bumper in December last year. She then went on to compete in a class 1 bumper in January and wasn’t disgraced back in 4th of 8 runners. Champion jockey Dickey Johnson is always an eye-catching booking for these types of races. This is really where Johnson wraps up the championship. He gets these bookings and always seems to do well in these types of races.
If A Perfect Gift can take to hurdles for a good yard then she looks the one to beat for me. Johnson rode her in the bumper win so it’s encouraging to see him back in the saddle. It’s generally a weak looking affair but the favourite isn’t one I can give any support too. The rest of the field are the usual sorts of bumper disappointments and point to point recruits and it’s hard to really build a case for any of them. Nikap has debuted over hurdles but struggled to settle and went off too hard. Mick Mona hit the frame on hurdle debut to defy long odds and could be an each way poke. She seemed to bump into some useful sorts each run with the likes of Misty Whisky, Silver Forever and So Lonely winning the 3 races she’s contested. But A Perfect Gift is taken to shed her maiden tag at the first time of asking.
Sticking in Uttoxeter again for their next race on the card. A 2.5 mile novice hurdle there’s been a swing in favourites overnight. STEADY AWAY for me has the best form on offer here and the market has agreed overnight.
Idee De Garde was favourite but after 286 days off it’s looking like the selection will have a fitness edge over him. He finished behind some good benchmarks in his 2 runs over hurdles. Beaten by Champagne Platinum on debut and then beaten soundly by Mister Fisher in a group 2 event. He’s coming back down in class now and handles soft. He is an interesting runner but he’s bumping into one who ran 26 days ago and will be raring to go.
Steady Away came 2nd in a course and distance affair to Mason Jar recently. The latter then backed up again 2 weeks later and won another class 4 novice event under penalty by 4 lengths. It’s a strong piece of form to follow going into this encounter. It’s uncertain whether Idee De Garde will stay the trip. Our Nicky Martin trained 5 year old was beaten by a smart rival but was also 5 lengths clear of third. He was chasing the winner but was never going to get on terms with what looks like one to follow. If he can turn up in the same form he can take this weaker looking race at the expense of Idee De Garde.
Wetherby is hosting a really good competitive card today. It’s the start of a good meeting for them with the Charlie Hall chase being tomorrow and featuring some big hitters. The third race on this card is a 2 mile listed juvenile hurdle. Surprise surprise, another race and another French recruit sitting at the head of the market. This ones already starting to slide though. He was odds on last night and is already out to 9/4.
Immediately I’m keen to take him on with Neil King trained NORDANO. The 3 year old is 2-2 over timber and is starting to look a bit of a prospect over hurdles. He won his debut over jumps at Huntingdon under Bryony Frost in impressive enough fashion but it was his most recent win that really caught the eye. 2 miles on soft at Chepstow is reading as really good form. He showed some grit and determination to make all that day. He went 2 lengths clear and just kept finding for pressure to assert and win by 3 lengths. The form of that race is already working out with Sir Psycho coming out and winning on Sunday. A gritty front running performance could see Nordano take a listed race this time out. It is a big step up in class but the 3 year old is showing promise and his form is already starting to stack up.
Main competition for me is looking like Zeb Spirit. He was tanking along in his last race over course and distance in a class 4 affair. He was yet to be asked for his race clinching effort but was already in the lead and going best. He absolutely clattered 3 out and stumbled on the other side of the hurdle. He couldn’t adjust his feet and ended up coming down. He was looking the winner that day and was travelling all over his competition. He gets a positive swing in the weights today against a horse who beat him previously by a length in Half Bolly. My concern with this one is will he handle the soft ground. His best performances have come on good and good to soft. A hood is applied to try and keep him focused over his hurdles so hopefully that prevents him from taking another spill.
Repetitio is the linchpin in picking Nordano over Zeb Spirit. Off level weights Zeb Spirit finished 1 length ahead of Repetitio. Off level weights on today’s going Nordano beat the same horse by 3 lengths. It’s a bit of a messy way of separating the runners but having a common denominator between them is a good place to start.
Nordano will try be gritty and tough out in front again. He’ll outstay these on tough ground and gets the nod to take this Class 1 listed race.