Thursday brings some real tricky racing. I’ll be in Uttoxeter for their card which is looking super competitive. The only other card of note is Fakenham so the jumps takes the spotlight today.
The second race at Uttoxeter is a 2 mile juvenile hurdle over 2 miles. The market suggests a 2 horse race and it’s hard to disagree. Although I do disagree with current odds on favourite Olympic Honour being so short. Unseating on his last start when 2/1 favourite, his jumping was a bit scratchy throughout and being hampered he unshipped rider Adam Wedge.
Keen to take on what looks like an unjustified odds on favourite with Jonjo O’Neill trained POP THE CORK. A really encouraging hurdle debut saw him finish 2nd in a class 4 maiden at Perth. The main eye-catching detail is that effort came on heavy ground and Uttoxeter is currently riding soft. He finished really strongly that day and made up late ground to seal himself 2nd place. Jonjo O’Neill Jr takes the ride again today and will know more about his mount and how well he keeps on. There’s not the strongest of paces on here. Olympic Honour might try to make all so I’d expect to see Pop The Cork nestle in behind him and try finish with a rattle on the slow ground to get off the mark as a hurdler.
The other 3 runners are looking less than interesting and appear to be just making up the numbers. Willett debuted in a maiden hurdle ay Ludlow recently and finished a detached 32 lengths behind the winner. Delta Bravo is a flat recruit who was well stuffed in his last run in a class 6 at Wolverhampton. Gaia Vallis made a debut in a bumper early in the month and didn’t impress coming 10th of 14.
Suggestion is we have a match and I’ll always take the nicer price.
Getting the day going at Fakenham to a strong start with exciting looking novice chaser ANGEL OF HARLEM. Scoring at Uttoxeter last month over 3 miles on good ground it immediately looks interesting that she’s getting the same conditions here today. The mare will shoulder a penalty for this encounter but looks a solid cut above her opposition here. Beating a good yardstick in Go Another One by 10 lengths on her chase debut looks really tasty form to latch onto.
Only 5 entrants will go before the rostrum and it’s easy to pick holes in the other 4. Rhythm Dancer seemed to not quite see out the full 3 miles and got left behind from 3 out. Jersey Bean made a chase debut in a class 4 novice over today’s distance and got hammered by 32 lengths. Jumping to the right throughout going left handed here isn’t ideal. Redzor is making a chase debut so is a little harder to assess. He has won a PTP so he can take a fence, but this Skelton inmate looks better with some juice in the ground. Invincible Cave was beaten by Go Another One in June so is held on form by the favourite.
Theres a strong pace on so this prominent racer can sit just off the leaders and as they start to flag at the front she can take it up. She stalked leaders in her last race and clinched the race from 3 out. The button was pressed and she put the race to bed with. She quickened nicely and kept finding to beat an odds on favourite. She’ll take some real beating here if in the same form.
Flicking back over to Fakenham for our other jumps card there’s a familiar name making his seasonal debut an he’s already attracting money. TOUCH KICK is already top of the Steamers list for today. Being backed in from 4/1 to 9/4 overnight it looks like there was a price oversight with this runner.
A 3 mile handicap chase it’s attention grabbing to see such a familiar name from high class races last season make a start to his winter campaign. Last seen struggling at Aintree and pulling up in the Betway Handicap Chase. A long season probably started to take its toll on the Paul Nicholls 8 year old. He kicked off last season with a good win so we know he goes well fresh. He handles any going and is an all round resilient type who will give his everything on the track. 132 looks a nice workable mark for him, he’s getting chunks of weight from Treacle Tart who is coming in with a hefty 12st4 to carry.
Hepijeu looks an interesting threat but he’s up to a mark of 134 which in 7lbs heavier than his last win. Elkstone is up 9lbs for his most reason win, which could derail his effort. Calipso Collonges struggles in higher class company and has been found out a few times. 131 looks a hard mark for him to defy too.
It’s not the deepest of fields so it is hard to get away from consistent chaser Touch Kick. Nicholls was last season’s champion trainer so he’ll want to keep the momentum going as the season begins to get going.
The 5th race at Uttoxeter rounds out our selections. The current favourite is French recruit for Nicholls Fidelio Vallis. I’ve had my fingers burnt recently by Nicholl’s French recruits and don’t plan on making the same mistake twice. Fool me once and all that. An Entrant that pricked my ears here is THOR DE CERISY.
Last November he debuted in a bumper on soft at Ffos Las and absolutely bolted up by 9 lengths on soft ground. Potential star bells must have been ringing in the Michael Scudamore yard as he went for a class 1 bumper at Ascot where he wasn’t disgraced but finished 8th. He was then a huge outsider in the Champion bumper at The Cheltenham Festival where he went off 100/1 and finished 11th of 14 behind Envoi Allen. It was maybe a bit ambitious to go straight in for a class 1 bumper and the champion bumper after initial early promise. But he clearly handles soft really well. The bumper win at Ffos Las featured Bubbles Of Gold in behind who scored a maiden hurdle at Warwick at the end of last season so that’s a nice boost to the form.
Back in a calmer race here of a class 4 should suit more. He showed some real promise and is showing some nice value at double figures to take well to hurdles. He knows the job and he’s one of only 4 runners to have a win under rules. Next choice would be the Skelton runner Emma’s Joy but it’s unconfirmed just how well she can handle some juice in the ground. Prudhomme is the other runner of note winning a bumper in April by 5 lengths on soft but the form hasn’t really come into play from that effort.