Two jumps cards again scheduled for today and unlike yesterday both courses have luckily passed their precautionary inspections. Southwell and Lingfield both go ahead so there are 4 selections today.
The first race of the day is a 3 mile novices’ handicap chase and it’s interesting to see a Nicky Henderson chase debutant and Southwell. LOVEHERANDLEAVEHER is a good hurdle winner and finds herself making her chase debut after just 4 starts under rules.
The 7 year old won her last start over timber back in February and beat a useful yardstick in Sixty’s Belle. There was another subsequent winner back in 3rd too in Little Millie. It’s a good piece of hurdle form and It seemed that the penny really dropped on her last 2 starts after failing to complete her first 2. She shed her maiden tag in good fashion and now makes the transition to fences for a top yard. It’s easy to be optimistic about her chances as a chaser as she was a comfortable 3 mile point to point winner. It’s looking likely she’ll stay the trip today and will jump soundly, her opening handicap mark of 118 looks fairly exploitable too.
There’s a couple of obvious dangers in the field as Carnspindle and Lamanver Odyssey both oppose. The former has shown some smart form over fences and was a recent 2nd at Fakenham. Her handicap mark has been falling but she found herself held off today’s mark of 120 last time. There’s still room for some progression as a chaser but she probably needs the handicapper to relinquish his grip a little more. Lamanver Odyssey had some decent hurdle form as well and was competing in class 2 affairs. This is her seasonal and chase debut but her last run over timber saw her pulling up.
It’s quite an average looking race and with a strong favourite at the top of the market I’m keen to support Loveherandleaveher to get off the mark as a chaser.
Sticking in Southwell for the next race on their card, a 2 mile handicap chase. The market looked wrong for this last night having Katpoli as favourite and has already adjusted to support VADO FORTE.
The 2 market leaders opposed recently at Chepstow with Fado Forte narrowly getting the better of his rival. I fancy him to confirm those placings today as he was just edging ahead of his rival on the line and both of them retain the same handicap mark for this encounter. The form of the Chepstow race has been working out very well and the 1st and 3rd have already come out and won again since. In a slightly cooler race it looks likely that Vado Forte and Katpoli have the result between the two of them. Katpoli is getting weight for being 3lbs lower in the handicap and for his weight for age allowance. But the 4 year old is on similar terms as his last run so it’s hard to make reasons as to why he can reverse the form here. Vado Forte has an experience edge and I fancy him to use that to get off the mark as a chaser. He jumped relatively well last time and with more experience he could look an even better chaser today.
The other runner to look out for is Monsieur D’Arque for the Skelton’s yard. He drops in grade from his last outing and ran in some hot hurdle contests last season. He ran in the Greatwood hurdle at Cheltenham recently but was well beaten back into 11th of the 14 runners. It’s interesting that he now switches to fences for the yard that won this race last year. He comes in off a mark of 122 and could put in a bold showing.
Between the 3 mentioned runners Vado Forte has the best form and hopefully Shady Oaks will set up a decent pace for him to come off the back of to challenge. Being on a flatter track this time round that tactic of being held up should play out better.
Moving over to Lingfield for the final 2 runners of the day, starting with a 2 mile handicap hurdle. Recent course and distance revelation RUACANA heads the betting.
The 10 year old has had 2 spins at Lingfield this season since switching form the Tim Vaughan yard to the Zoe Davison yard. He’s won both, even if the first win was a little fortunate. 3 jumped the last together but as Barntown fell he hampered Never Equalled who unseated. Ruacana was left alone for the run in and could gallop home at his leisure. He dropped back to 2 miles for his most recent effort and easily won a 5 runner affair by 10 lengths. Nothing lucky about that run he simply defied his penalty easily to win by a wide margin. He’s only up another 4lbs in the weights for that most recent win and Page Fuller takes over in the saddle to claim 3lbs off her mounts back which negates the majority of the weight rise. Zoe Davison is really getting a tune out of her new recruit and Lingfield seems to suit him so it’s hard to see him being denied in his hat-trick bid. There’s not much pace on her at all and if Page Fuller takes the initiative she might snag a soft lead at the front and make all.
Main competition for me is looking like Gipper who won this race last year of a mark of 111. He only comes in 2lbs higher for this year’s effort and handles heavy going well. This race seemed to spark a rival in him last season and he won his subsequent start too. His price is starting to be trimmed and he looks like he’s ready to put in another bold bid.
With form on his side I still fancy Ruacana to maintain his dominance at Lingfield and outstay this field in the testing conditions.
Finishing off the day in Lingfield and a 2.5 mile handicap hurdle. MAYPOLE CLASS is catching the eye after a good couple of outings this season.
Most recently the 5 year old was seen finishing 2nd behind Frightened Rabbit at Carlisle. That was his handicap debut and he ran creditably under top weight. It’s a shame that coming 2nd that day the handicapper saw fit to put him up 3lbs. It’s frustrating when a horse is fairly beaten yet is edged up in the weights but 3lb claimer Jonjo O’Neill Jr. takes over in the saddle and negates the handicappers rise. He was well fancied for his last run as he went off 2nd favourite and only half a point longer than the winner. The 2 were a decent margin clear of 3rd and from 5th backwards were well detached. It looks like decent form on the surface and the up in trip looks likely to suit. He was recruited from the 3 mile point to point scene so it’s logical to think that he’ll easily get the trip here. He probably wasn’t quite good enough to win a maiden or a novice encounter but handicapping looked to be his level and a repeat of the Carlisle run will likely see him go one better.
There isn’t much in the field that really concerns me. Imperial Acolyte is next in the market and he blew up in his seasonal return. He faded into 4th but may strip fitter now for the run. He’s down another 3lbs in the handicap and will enjoy going back left handed. But his sole win as a hurdle came over 2 miles and he hasn’t quite gotten the trip when he’s tried further so stamina might be his main enemy.
A weak looking race Maypole Class has the best recent form to latch onto and can shed his maiden tag for a yard that’s currently among the winners.