A new week and unfortunately between now and Christmas the cards will look depleted, almost relatively empty. The big hitters are being saved for the big races around Boxing Day but racing does seem to have one last hurrah on the 21st. Then it’s 10 cards of madness on the 26th. There’s still some value to be sniffed out from Plumpton and Ffos Las as they represent the jumps today.
Opening the day is a 2 mile 5 furlong novices’ handicap chase. The market has already adjusted to make SOME CAN DANCE favourite and I can only see the price hardening up further.
The 6 year old made an encouraging chase debut 18 days ago at this course on heavy ground. He ran well in the small field to finish 2nd behind an odds-on winner. He showed some real good tenacity to run on under pressure and finish only 2.5 lengths behind the winner. It’s a strong chase debut to build on and he holds the same handicap mark here today. The main encouraging thing to take from the debut is the fact that he handled the difficult underfoot conditions. Heavy going is something that can take some real getting and it’s hard to know how a horse will perform on bottomless ground until they’re faced with it. Some Can Dance showed a decent aptitude to keep going on difficult ground and try chase down a decent looking rival. There’s plenty of positives to take from it and moving up in trip today looks ideal considering how well he finished. Driftwood Haze was 3rd in the field in that last run and looks held on the form, there’s nothing to suggest he can reverse the placings despite being nudged down in the weights by 2lbs.
The competition is looking like Adman Sam who opened the book as favourite but is starting to see his price slip. The 8 year old absolutely bolted up in his most recent start and went in by no less than 16 lengths. It is an impressive looking line of form on the surface but it came on good to soft and Dave Robert’s charge is untested on heavy going. The majority of his form is on good and he might just flounder in the ground. I’m sticking with Some Can Dance to relish conditions and this 3 mile 1 furlong hurdle winner should be more at home over a longer trip on his second spin over fences.
Moving over to the other jumps card at Plumpton and top of the market is recent impressive winner SCRUTINISE. Zoe Davison and Page Fuller teamed up with this 7 year old 2 weeks ago over course and distance and I fancy his chances to go well again.
Scrutinise made his stable debut in November and ran really creditably to be 3rd in a blanket finish by a neck. He seemed to be travelling really well 2 out but maybe lack of fitness caught him late and he only managed the bronze medal in the cluttered finish. He then made amends 2 weeks ago over this track and trip and looked well ahead of the handicapper scoring easily by 5 lengths. He turned for home on the bridle and stayed on smartly from the last while under pressure to assert a strong looking win. The handicapper has thrown a meaty looking 9lbs at him for the victory but I don’t think it’s going to be enough to curb his improvement. He was by no means all out to score here last time and if Page Fuller has to ask him for maximum effort today I fancy him to pull out more than enough to score again. The stable have been in some decent form the last 2 weeks with a solid 19% strike rate and Page Fuller is well worth her 3lb claim in the saddle as she’s clocked up a a massive 26% strike rate recently too.
The partnership looks strong and I don’t think heavy ground should be too difficult considering how well he went through soft ground last time out. It’s a fairly weak looking affair but Broke Away looks relatively well handicapped and handles heavy going well. But Scrutinise looks like he has 1 more run in his current form before the handicapper really sinks his teeth in.
Rounding out the day with a 3 mile 1.5 furlong attritional test at Ffos Las. A long distance chase on heavy ground will be really taxing so it will pay to find a really thorough stayer. I’m drawn to FRANKLY SPEAKING who ran really well on seasonal debut last month.
The lightly raced 9 year old had a spin over 3 miles at this course 36 days ago and ran creditably behind Horatio Hornblower. The 11 year old franked the form nicely recently when he won in a veterans handicap chase Saturday off a mark of 121. It’s not the best of subsequent form but it does give a solid benchmark to work with. Frankly Speaking would’ve been closer to the veteran winner but a costly mistake at the last put paid to any chance of him chasing down the leader. He did however recover well from the mistake and managed to be gritty enough to cling on for 2nd place. He finished exceptionally tired but that’s to be expected with him making a return from a long break. He’ll strip fitter for a comeback run and is also on his second outing after wind surgery. James Nixon retains the ride and takes off a handy 5lbs considering his mount was raised 3lbs for the last run. Cheekpieces are kept on and I expect he can really build off that first run back. He handled soft ground well enough before blowing out late. A tired mistake last time knocked the stuffing out of him so hopefully he can keep plugging on this time with a clear round of jumping.
It’s an open looking affair with Conas Taoi heading the market. The 10 year old looks relatively well handicapped but a string of 3rd places looks like he’s having a really hard time getting his head in front at the minute. He’s not even quite hitting the crossbar as such he’s just being held by 2 other rivals consistently. Definately Vinnie looks the biggest danger despite the fact his name has a spelling error. He was competitive over course and distance recently but steps up in class after a 4lb rise for a 2nd place. It’s going to be tough going but Frankly Speaking has low mileage and the form of his last run has taken a solid franking.