The penultimate day of racing before a Christmas break brings 2 cards, one from Ascot and one from Uttoxeter. I’m on course for the latter so it takes prime focus for today’s selections.
Opening the card is a 2.5 mile handicap hurdle and early favourite TALKINGPICTURESTV is looking very hard to oppose.
The 6 year old has hit the crossbar 3 times in a row with a string of 2nd places. She seemed to really bump into one last time in Special Princess on testing ground, who was unsuccessful in chasing a hat trick yesterday in testing conditions. Before that she was seen chasing home Two Sams at Plumpton, again on desperate ground so it’s safe to assume that conditions today will be of no real concern to the 6 year old. Henry Oliver’s charge hasn’t got her head in front since a 22 furlong success at Stratford on good ground but she’s only hovering 4lbs higher than that winning mark and win a 3lb claimer taking over in the saddle today I fancy her chances to gain compensation for a string of silver medals.
Main competition I can find appears to be Georgian Firebird. The 9 year old has some decent form on soft and won his bumper on heavy. But, he hasn’t won since 2016 and although a mark of 86 looks nice an low for him, conditions don’t look ideal and his form has been relatively weak. He’s placed twice at this course on soft ground but 2.5 miles might just stretch his stamina to the max.
Talkingpicturestv might not be the strongest horse at Uttoxeter today but she does look best equipped to handle the difficult conditions. She’s well handicapped and hopefully can stride away on bottomless ground.
Next on the card is a 2.5 mile maiden hurdle and I might seriously regret taking on a Venetia Williams horse on heavy ground but I’m siding with ST BARTS to beat Enzo D’Airy.
As I’ve stated many times I just don’t take to most French recruits. They arrive with expectations on them after carrying little weight and winning low quality races. Enzo D’airy ticks all the wrong boxes for me and I’m leaning towards St Barts who showed some good resolution to keep plugging on at Ascot in a class 3 maiden. He was beaten a good solid 20 lengths or so but it was very deep waters for his debut under rules. Soft ground at Ascot is incredibly testing and yet this point to point recruit kept plugging on to seal 6th. It doesn’t sound like stellar form but the first 3 home that day look like ones to be following. For a debut under rules it’s a solid starting point and he drops in grade to class 5 for today’s race. The point to point winner showed he had buckets of stamina between the flags winning a 3 mile event by 22 lengths. Stamina is going to be at the fore today and he needs to stay in desperate ground. This is where I think he’s going to have the major edge over the favourite as he looks to have the superior stamina.
This looks to be sewn up between these 2. The Williams yard may be in stellar form at the minute but I’m keen to take this runner on for the prolific partnership that Johnson and Hobbs have struck up this season.
Rounding out selections at Uttoxeter with a 2 mile handicap hurdle and DHARMA RAIN looks to be a solid contender off the back of a recent course and distance showing.
10 days ago the 4 year old ran here off this mark and was narrowly held at a big price by Sea Forever. Clare Hobson’s inmate seemed to really handle conditions well that day and ran a huge race at 25/1. The filly is facing the exact same conditions this time around and if she’s capable of handling the quick 10 day turnaround then I think she’s going to be really hard to beat. Any solid form on heavy needs to be respected as the conditions really take some getting. Surprisingly the field wasn’t that strung out in her last run and only 6 lengths covered the first 6 home. Connections are keen to take of advantage of the fact that she’s due to go up 1lb and will try capitalise on the form quickly.
Most of the field look unlikely to enjoy the going and will flounder for stamina. Bard Of Brittany ran a stormer of a race at Taunton recently at 40/1 but is totally untested on ground with any give in it. Annajemima was 2nd on her last run behind the useful looking Deja Vue but beaten a massive 40 lengths it’s hard to assess the form. She’s also been given a massive rating of 101 and has to plug around 12st2 on stamina eating ground. It’s going to be a stiff mark for her to defy on handicap debut and so preference is still going to be with Dharma Rain to handle the ground better than the rest.
Not something I’d consider a tip but I’ve had an early little poke in the 3.30 at Uttoxeter. The bumper is usually a race I avoid like the plague but Toad interested me slightly at 66/1. I’ve had an incredibly small each way on him as his breeding looks quite good and he has a full sibling, One For The Team, who’s rated 128 over hurdles. Pedigree suggests he could be able to handle heavy ground but the 6 year old has yet to make his racecourse debut. One For The Team won his bumper debut on slow ground so Toad could be a surprise at 66/1…. Or he could pull up half way round. Hard to tell, but a small each way could look good if he hits the frame or if he garners a smidge of market support.