3 jumps meets today and the usual cluster of difficult races to pick through. Wincanton, Market Rasen and Leicester all hosts cards but the latter had the races that interested me most.
Opening the day in the Midlands with a 2.5 mile handicap hurdle where Chirico Vallis heads the market. He won handily last week but shoulders a 7lb penalty for his exploits and is going to have to carry 12st7 on testing ground. It’s enough to put me off and I went elsewhere for value.
BE MY SEA became an interesting alternative I found as the 8 year old has slipped below his last winning mark over hurdles. He notched that win back in June 2017 and long break from racing since then. He returned in June this year and had 3 spins on the flat. Nothing to get excited about but it did bring him back to fitness and he retuned to timber 24 days ago. He wasn’t disgraced back in 6th of 10 and over an inadequate trip of 2 miles. Back up in trip to 2.5 miles with suit him more today and he won’t have the same issue of being outpaced when the field gets racing. The handicapper dropped him 2lbs and claimer of the month Ben Jones takes over in the saddle and claims a further handy 5lbs. This’ll be the conditional jockey’s first ride since winning the Ladbroke trophy on Saturday so hopefully he’s riding full of confidence.
Underfoot conditions are going to be difficult but Be My Sea stays 3 miles, so as the rest of the field begin to flounder for stamina it’s likely that he can keep finding for pressure and pick off a few rivals late to get competitive. It’s only a small runner field and the top 2 in the market are both coming off wins and the weight rises associated with success. Rather than taking the risk as to whether they can defy the handicapper it felt safer to side with a horse who’s won on off a mark higher than he comes in today.
Sticking in Leicester for the next race on their card, a 2.5 mile maiden hurdle. Heading the market is 6 year old WHITEOAK FLEUR, who’s been running to a consistent level over hurdles in her last 3 starts.
Donald McCain’s mare has seemed to get unlucky and bumped into a few above average horses in her last 2 starts. Most notably on her last hurdle run she came 3rd to recent class 1 winner Floressa. Henderson’s speedy mare spread eagled to field but Whiteoak Fleur ran well for her seasonal reappearance and placed. Her main issue that day was markedly hanging to the right so it’ll help her today to switch from a left handed track to a right handed track. Coming back up in trip is likely to suit more too as she was mainly running over 2.5 miles last season. Again she was placing in novice events but was just struggling to get her head in front. She brings the most experience to the table today and I fancy it her chance to take advantage. She’s run well on soft before so I’m hopeful she can handle the heavy underfoot conditions at the course.
The main dangers are looking like the Skelton recruit Velkera but a weak showing last time found her 100 lengths detached from the winner so it’s enough to put me off. Another point to point recruit in Seaside Girl is gaining some small market support as she won well on her debut between the flags. There’s very little to go on these recruits for their rules debut and I’d rather stick with the runner who’s been showing some real consistent form under rules till now in Whiteoak Fleur.
The last of the day at Leicester is a 2 mile handicap hurdle and leading the market is a runner I fancied on Monday until the card she was due to run on was abandoned.
WISE COCO was last seen at Carlisle behind Frightened Rabbit and Maypole Class. The latter of which franked the form Tuesday winning handily under Jonjo O’Neill Jr. The mare drops in class and retains the same mark for her run at Carlisle, she seems to really come alive on turf with some cut in it so should find the underfoot conditions no worry here. She won at Perth back in September and landed somewhat of a gamble to come from 5lbs out of the handicap to hose up and win well. She floundered slightly next time on good ground and was held back in 5th but luckily this brought her mark back down 1lb. A good month off to freshen her up will have done her good as she’s been on the go all summer and this prominent runner looks geared up to put in another bold bid.
She likes to be very prominent in the field and it looks like Ginjo is going to be our pacesetter. I’d like to see Wise Coco just tuck in behind her and wait until the leader’s stamina gives way in the testing conditions. If she can take up the running late I fancy her chances to pile on the pressure for the last few furlongs and outstay competition in demanding conditions. Drewmain Legend and Shadow’s Girl have some closely linked form and look the dangers, with the latter beating the former recently but both are losing ground in the market rapidly. The early morning gamble appears to be Boutan but being 0-21 over hurdles is enough to put me off.