It’s quite slim pickings today as we get Tuesday’s action from Lingfield, Huntingdon and Hereford. It looks mainly quiet all week until the 3 day Cheltenham November meeting kicks in Friday but until then here’s a few selections from today’s racing.
The third race on the card at Huntingdon is a 2 mile handicap hurdle. Current favourite is Sebastopol and he might not be one I want to take on exactly but his price has hardened to evens so the value has evaporated.
Instead to eek some value out of this race it would make sense to take an each way price on a likely placer who might give the short price favourite a run for his money. Novice hurdler HIGHLY PRIZED represents some really good value at 10/1 in my eyes and could give us that really good run for our money. The 6 year old was last seen 73 days ago and handily won a novice hurdle at Newton Abbot by 5 lengths. He now switches to handicap company today and his mark of 123 looks very lenient compared to his rivals here. It’s also interesting to note that Ben Jones gets the leg up in the saddle today and he takes off a handy extra 5lbs from his mounts back. Winning 2 novice hurdles the logical step forward was to be in handicaps and with Sofia’s Rock being rated 140 he’s getting plenty of cover. The mare has struggled to settle in the past and goes off hard at the front but she won’t get it all her own way up top today as Brandon Castle is another keen going front runner.
There’s going to be a very strong pace on here so when if those two go too hard up front it’s likely to collapse. Highly Prized will sit just off the pace and as the two up front start to fold late on under their heavy weight and strong clip they’ve set. He might be able to take up the running on the dash for home. Sebastopol has to shoulder a 10lbs rise for his last run, Sofia’s Rock struggles to settle and Brandon Castle might ruin himself getting into a tussle for the lead. I’m taking the Emma Lavelle trained horse to pick up the pieces of a hard run race and give the short priced favourite a run for his money.
Lingfield’s 2 mile novices’ handicap chase has an interesting favourite in SONG OF THE SKY who has some lines of form worth following.
On her seasonal reappearance she ran at Stratford in a 2 mile 1 furlong novices’ handicap chase and bumped into one in the Skelton’s Maire Banrigh. Coming 2nd to this rival she put in a great run to finished best of the rest. Maire Banrigh then came out recently and beat Thomas Derby at Warwick in a smart performance. Back in 3rd was Wenceslaus who also has come out to win and come 2nd since. The form has stacked quite nicely from that race and gives us a nice benchmark to build from. The selection then went over hurdles 12 days later at Stratford again and finished 2nd again to a useful rival. The form from that race took an immediate boost too as 3rd that day Darlyn came out and won on his next appearance too. It seems this mare just keeps bumping into one in her runs and the form behind her this season has stacked both times. With her mark as a chaser being trimmed to 113 she looks super competitive here without a rival of Maire Banrigh’s quality to worry about. She likes to take a bit of pace cover from rivals and luckily in this small runner affair there’s 2 who are likely to go on ahead of her and set the tempo.
One of those likely to be prominent and forcing the pace is Gregarious who’s seeing some serious market support this morning. The 6 year old is near the top of the steamers list for today and his price has hardened from 5/1 to 2/1. I’m struggling to see the angle as his chase form has left a lot to be desired. He moved to chasing 2 years ago and had 4 spins over fences only to flop a bit over the bigger obstacles and be dropped back to hurdles. He only put in 1 noteworthy run as a chaser and finished 4th of 8. The form doesn’t look stellar and his jumping was letting him down then. His last run resulted in a heavy fall so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles his jumps today and if his confidence over fences was affected.
As the 2nd favourite garners market support the price on the favourite drifts. There’s more than likely been word that Gregarious has been having a good cut over his fences during schooling but the market support isn’t enough to convince me he’s going to be better and more consistent than Song Of The Sky. She’s bringing strong form to the table, handles fences and is the one to beat here.
Over in Hereford their 4th race is a 2 mile 5 furlong handicap chase, the class 3 affair has 9 runners and current favourite is No Comment. His price is already on the drift and I’m keen to take him on with BALLYHILL.
There’s a surprising bit of class for this medium level of race. No Comment ran in the car crash that is the Kim Muir at the Cheltenham Festival this year and finished a respectable 5th of 23 runners. That was over a trip of 3 miles and 2 furlongs and it would appear when this lightly raced chaser has run over fences his best runs have been over a much longer trip. The year before at the festival he finished 6th in the National Hunt Challenge Cup over 4 miles. He’s only run twice more over fences which were around today’s trip and he was very soundly beaten both times. It would appear he doesn’t have the pace for this trip and prefers the stamina taxing distances. On the other hand Ballyhill comes back to a trip he much prefers after dropping down to 17 furlongs for his seasonal reappearance. It was too sharp for him and he finished 6th of 6 and 32 lengths detached from the winner. Now it’s not the most encouraging of form to come into this race but it will have sharpened him up and trimmed his handicap mark by 2lbs. Considering the selection was 3rd in a grade 3 at Cheltenham over 2.5 miles back in January behind Siruh Du Lac and Janika off a mark of 144 he looks extremely well handicapped today. Looking at his peak efforts from last season you’d see this 8 year old as the class in this handicap and might simply be on a different level to his rivals. The Twiston-Davies yard has had an excellent start to the Autumn and Winter campaign and cam continue their good form here.
Main danger is looking like the well handicapped Town Parks. A course and distance winner off a 2lbs higher mark than he’s on today he looks like he could be lined up for a big run. He’s getting a stone for Ballyhill and then his jockey claims an extra 3lbs on top as well. There’s a big weight deficit between the two but Ballyhill’s was mixing it with some of the best last season so might just be too good for this class of race.