Mondays cards bring two good jumps meets from Plumpton and Hereford. The flat has all but wrapped up and is only represented by all weather meets at Newcastle and Kempton. Nothing particularly appealing on the synthetic surfaces so the National hunt cards take centre stage.
Kicking the day off with a 2.5 mile mares’ novice hurdle. Favourite is one that’s already won a hurdle race in GET THE APPEAL. Nicholls is starting to show his hand now with juvenile hurdlers. This could be another one to follow.
The 5 year old notched up her first hurdle win at a short price last month. She went off 2/9 and only got up by half a length in the end. What got her there in at the line was having more in the tank to assert in the run in. Eva’s Diva was leading before 2 out where Get The Appeal joined her. They were upsides one another over the last and it wasn’t until the run in where Get The Appeal’s engine gave her the edge. The 2 had pulled 9 lengths clear of 3rd and were hitting peak strides late on. It might not look encouraging for such a short price favourite to be worked so hard to get up in a maiden hurdle but the extra distance today will bring the best out of her. There’s clearly an engine in there and it’ll need the extra half a mile to be at full effect.
It’s a shallow looking affair. The favourite is shouldering a penalty for her win but she showed her talent in the class 5 maiden to win over a trip that was clearly too short for her. She’ll kick on from the start and gallop these into submission from the front. There’s quite a strong pace forecast on but she looks to be the likely pace setter. With the Nicholls’ team sending a smart looking hurdler in the race before we might get an early indicator of the form we’ll see from them today.
The ground is nice and testing so stamina will be the key to a win here. She looks to be the best stayer in the field and will probably go in at the expense of Hawthorn Cottage and Penny Mallow.
Sticking in Plumpton for the next race on the card, a 3 mile 1.5 furlong handicap chase. With any long distance affair you have to cut the field down into who will stay and who won’t. One who’s been banging his head against the door in his last 4 starts is TZAR DE L’ELFE. 4 second places in a row looks like he’s a frustrating one but with 2 of those efforts coming over course and distance there’s plenty of indicators to suggest his time is coming again soon.
Placing off marks of 100 to 103 he’s sitting somewhere in the middle now off 102. It’s probably a little bit harsh to have kept him on this mark but he’s super consistent and runs well pretty constantly. The interesting factors this time around are a change in ground, a slightly weaker looking affair and claimer Rex Dingle jocked up. I’m a massive fan of Dingle and his 5lb claim could be a big difference maker here. Instead of lugging around 11st10lb the selection will shoulder 11st5lbs. It’s a considerable difference on stamina sapping ground and the young jockey is well worth his claim. Tzar De L’Elfe has shown he’s a quality stayer he’s just keeps seeming to bump into one just that little bit better. Plantagenet beat him by 5 lengths and he is now rated 122 over fences. Newtown Lad won by 6 lengths and he’s now rated 118 as a chaser. There’s been a few smart rivals but with Dingle claiming and a switch to testing ground it might be enough to reverse his fortunes.
Hit The Highway is a worthy looking favourite and went close in a course and distance affair recently. He holds the same mark here to try and put in another smart performance. Uallrightharry is a smart staying bench mark to finish behind and he’s weighted similarly today to put in another bold bid. He didn’t show the grit you’d like for this kind of race last time out and he lost a late duel for 2nd place. It’s a rocky affair to try and break apart but Tzar De L’Elfe is a solid stayer and just hopefully the injection of a claimer gets him over the line in front finally.
Moving over to the other jumps card at Hereford for the last 2 selections. The first of which is in the 2 mile novices’ hurdle. The market is headed by Skelton trained OLLY THE BRAVE. He’s got 2 pieces of form with following with smart looking hurdler Old Jeroboam.
Last seen at Worcester in a 2 mile novice hurdle the 6 year old gelding came 3rd behind Old Jeroboam and Cat Tiger. Cat Tiger was receiving lumps of weight from the 2 rivals so the 3rd place by a short distance doesn’t read as bad form. Olly The Brave has bumped into Old Jeroboam before in a bumper and only a length separated the 2 that day. It’s encouraging form to take forward as Old Jeroboam ran creditably recently in the class 3 novice hurdle at Wetherby. Coming 3rd behind some decent sorts that day he’s probably better than the 21 lengths he was detached by. A quick glance over this card shows how weak an affair it truly is. 10 of the runners are currently 33/1 or higher. The next 2 in the betting are both double digit odds too. It leaves us with 4 likely candidates to consider. Winds Of Fire is a flat recruit who hasn’t been seen for over a year. It’d be a big ask for him to make a smooth transition to hurdles after such a long absence from the track. Onthefrontfoot has won twice over timber so shoulders a double penalty. It’s enough to put me off. Although smart enough to have won twice, giving away 12lbs to every rival won’t be easy. Perfect Predator has some smart bumper form but again has been absent for 204 days so fitness won’t be on his side. It’s interesting he’s as short as 2/1 in the market so might be worth keeping an eye on if he puts in a solid round of jumping.
Striking logical lines through the rest of the field leaves Olly The Brave as the most likely winner in the pack. He’s bringing some smart back form to the table and gets conditions to suit. The Skelton stable are starting to hit stride so I’d like to keep their likely sorts on side where possible.
Finishing off Monday’s racing with a 2 mile 3.5 furlong maiden hurdle. There’s one at the top of the market I recognise in JUGE ET PARTI.
I was on course for his run at Warwick when he finished third to the impressive Diomede Des Mottes. That Skelton runner made mincemeat out of them that day and kicked for home 4 out. He put them to the sword early, Juge Et Parti was plugging on gamely to steal a remote 3rd place. Before this he bumped into Morning Vicar in a class 4 maiden and only went down narrowly to that rival. You’d make the assumption he’s just bumped into a good one and he will get his turn next time but on his next outing he bumped into the even more impressive Braid Blue. The Gordon Elliot 6 year old is on a massive upward curve and went very close in a class 2 event at Cheltenham. There appears to be nothing as lethal lurking in the card here. Juge Et Parti brings the best form to the table and there’s no class 2 horses lurking below him in the odds. Going off RPR’s he’s put in performances 10lbs better than anything else in the field.
2nd favourite in the market is serial faller Sense Of Adventure. 3 career races and 2 falls. Not the most encouraging form to read for a horse but he was going well before hitting the deck last time. You tend to not want to see more letters than numbers besides a horses name though. Go Millie Go was well held back in 5th behind Silver Forever on rules debut and will probably benefit from a longer trip after coming from the 3 mile point to point scene.
Although Nigel Twiston-Davies deemed it suitable to sell out on the selection he still looks a solid runner here. Brodie Hampson is jocked up and takes a handy 5lbs off so the 6 year old can finally lock in his first career win over obstacles.