Thursday’s action has domestic jumps cards at Wincanton and Market Rasen. There’s a card over at Thurles to keep an eye on and 2 all weather cards to ignore.
Opening today’s selections at Wincanton in a 3 mile 1 furlong handicap chase. I’m drawn to favourite and recent winner CROSSLEY TENDER.
The selection won his second attempt over fences at Plumpton over today’s trip quite convincingly 17 days ago. The time from that run is really eye-catching considering the race was run on heavy going he posted a time only 1 minute and 8.7 seconds outside of standard. It’s quite pleasing to see how fast he actually went through a difficult race and how well he stayed in difficult conditions. The field behind him came home really strung out due to the fierce clip that was kept up by the winner. He kept jumping well and has had a fair looking 5lbs rise from the handicapper. It doesn’t look an insurmountable rise for a young unexposed chaser to improve beyond. He made his debut over the same course and distance as his win but a mistake at the 8th flight sent his jumping into meltdown and he unseated his jockey at the 15th. If he jumps like he did in his second start over fences he’s going to take some beating.
There’s a couple of dangers in the 7 runner field, mainly course and distance winners Pink Gin and River Of Intrigue. Both are still higher in the weights now than their last win and their form has tailed off quite badly since. It would be surprising for either of these to get right in the mix as both look quite exposed now.
Crossley Tender might have a weight rise to contend with but the young chaser might just stay a step or two ahead of the assessor for now.
Sticking in Wincanton for the next race on their card for a 2 mile 5.5 furlong novices’ hurdle. Current market favourite is Glynn and he’s one I’m quite keen to oppose as just a point to point win doesn’t justify such short odds in my book.
Instead SAINT DE REVE looks an interesting alternative as the 5 year ran very well in his hurdle debut recently behind 2 very decent hurdling benchmarks. The Nicholls trainee made some really eye-catching late headway to nab 3rd late on in a race where most of the focus was on the first 2 home. The impressive Cat Tiger for Nicholls and jockey David Maxwell slugged it out with Welsh Saint and just got up by a neck. 12 lengths behind came Saint De Reve and Harry Cobden as the yard’s seemingly second string rattled home. It’s a solid line of form to take and for a debut over timber the selection wasn’t disgraced. Over the same trip and ground with some cut in it again it would be safe to assume he can go close again without anything as good as Cat Tiger or Welsh Saint in this line up.
The only other runner of real note in the field appears to be Rococo River but the Jane Williams representative carries a penalty for a previous win over hurdles and looks like he’ll struggle to concede weight all round today after a disappointing run over fences recently. Paul Nicholls has won this race in 4 of the last 5 renewals so it looks likely that he can continue his hold over this race. With the rest of the field looking weak and Glynn being an unnecessarily short price I’ll side with Saint De Reve to notch up his first win under rules.
Moving over to Market Rasen for the penultimate race on their card and a 2 mile and half a furlong handicap hurdle. Favourite CHRISTMAS IN USA was an impressive winner a week ago and looks set up to put in another bold bid as he’s escaped a penalty.
The 7 year old took the lead from the 2nd flight on his last run and he turned the screw on the field from the front. He was clear from the 3rd flight and it wasn’t until 3 out the field started trying to peg him back but jockey Bruce Lynn had saved enough in the tank for his mount to be driven clear quite easily. Under similar conditions today it looks like he’ll be able to snatch a soft lead at the front again and gallop his competitors into submission. Soft going seems to be the key to him and his previous win came on soft going. The more testing the conditions the more this front runner can use his engine to put rivals to the sword early.
This race is quite weak and Christmas In USA looks more than capable of being able to follow up with conditions in his favour and a field that won’t be hard pressing him for the lead. Off the same mark that he scored from last week he’s 7lbs well in and looks the most likely winner here.
Rounding out today with a race I looked at a few times, a 1 mile 7.5 furlong limited handicap chase. With most handicaps I start at the bottom and work my up the card striking lines through runners.
Rough Night is still 9lbs higher than his sole win over hurdles. That came while fresh but his point to point form is nothing to shout about and he’s stricken from the list. Sparkleandshine was a faller on his chase debut and that’s an immediate sour note for me, especially as it was a first flight fall so there’s nothing to assess. Esprit De Somoza was well beaten on chase debut by 2 smart rivals but was massively detached. He also started to go to his left late on which will hurt him going right handed here. Musical Slave’s chase debut was appalling and there seems to be no excuse as to why.
Locker Room Talk will enjoy going back right handed but his jumping wasn’t very crisp at Fakenham last time out. Buck’s Bin’s has point to point experience but he shapes like he needs further than 2 miles. Tiffin Top is interesting but doesn’t look of class 3 material, he might be wanting for quality even off a low mark of 124.
This leaves the favourite Moonlighter and BADDESLEY KNIGHT. I’ve leant towards the latter as on chase debut Moonlighter was going well but made a race ending mistake 3 out at Exeter. He made a little mistake at 4 out but recovered. He then reached for 3 out and unshipped his jockey. As soon as some real pressure and pace was being applied to his jumping he started to fall apart so I’m keen to oppose him. His nearest market rival Baddesley Knight jumped well on chase debut in a novice event and was just edged out by decent rival Rouge Vif. There was no real bad mistakes apart from where he was clipped in the air by Earlofthecotswolds. That rival then fell at the next fence whereas Baddesley Knight kept plugging on behind the eventual winner and finished ahead of well rated Malaya. 131 looks a nice lenient mark for him to get off the mark over fences