Midweek’s racing is relatively bare but we have a big weekend to look forward to with the Betfair Chase at Haydock and the mouthwatering clash between Altior and Cyrname at Ascot. Today we’ll have to make do with Lingfield and Fakenham for some value.
First up today is a trip to Fakenham for a selling handicap hurdle over 2.5 miles. TODD is current favourite in the 4 runner field and is narrowly preferred to close market rival Skeaping.
Skeaping has been in good form recently and won twice in October, including a run at Fakenham. He was denied his hat trick after going for a 2 mile 2.5 furlong hurdle race at Stratford. It would appear his form wavers anything much above the minimum trip and it seems to really find him out for stamina making him less competitive. Over the 2.5 miles today I think he’ll have the same problem. As well as having to give selection Todd 10lbs in the handicap it doesn’t look likely he’ll be able to knock up another win here today.
Todd was last seen recently running in a 2 mile 7.5 furlong race at this course but was just seen out by the lightly raced Regarding Ruth. Dropping back down to 2.5 miles is sure to suit as he’s a previous course and distance winner off a higher mark than he comes in with today. It’s also a marked drop in class for the 9 year old as he was running in class 4 affairs and now drops into class 5. If running anywhere near to the same level as his last appearance it’s likely he will be able to out stay Skeaping. Blinkers go back on which seemed to help light him up in his last run and jockey Callum Mckinnes takes 7lbs off his mounts back. Race conditions seem ideal, it’s a weak race and main rival Skeaping has suspect stamina. Todd is looking a hard favourite to oppose.
Moving over to the other domestic jumps card at Lingfield for the remaining 3 selections. The first of which is in the 2 mile novices’ hurdle. Favourite Yaa Salaam is one I’m keen to take on as his current odds on price looks unjustified to me. A second place back in March to recent Cheltenham runner Benny’s Bridge is the most tangent piece of form on the table but there’s very little to suggest that he’ll handle the tough under foot conditions today as Lingfield rides heavy.
On the other hand HOLD THAT THOUGHT is hailing from the Venetia Williams yard that thrives when the rain comes. Her inmates just seen to come alive in the mud and there appears to be plenty of that around at the moment. This particular inmate is a recruit from the point to point scene and fetched a tidy £220,000 after winning his sole start between the flags by 10 lengths. That came on good to yielding ground but over 3 miles he showed he has the stamina to cope with testing conditions. The odds would suggest these 2 have the contest sewn up between them and I’ll usually lean to the nicer price when it boils down to 2 runners.
If Williams has had time to put her print on this 4 year old he should be fully tuned up for a slog in the mud to notch up a win on his first start under rules.
The price has already evaporated on my fancy in the 2.5 mile mares’ handicap chase here as the market has adjusted and TROUBLED SOUL is now a clear favourite. She’s traded places in the market with Ruby Yeats already and looks a good prospect for this race.
Hailing from the ever in form Fergal O’Brien yard the 10 year old recently ran in a 3 mile race at Chepstow. She didn’t quite see out the distance that day and faded back into 3rd after 2 out. A drop back to 2.5 miles looks like it’ll suit more and the recent run will have blown away the summer rust. She ran on soft ground in her last outing so should be fine on the heavy underfoot conditions today. Although she’s top weight in this 5 runner race her mark has fallen to a very reasonable 109. She’s gone close in class 2 races off a mark of 110 to recent winner The Bay Birch so back down in class 4 and nothing as dangerous as The Bay Birch lurking in this field she looks the most likely winner. She’s the only runner to have had a run this season so has a fitness edge over her 4 rivals.
With the other 4 runners lacking fitness and the market already adjusting to be siding with an in form yard’s runner it looks like class will tell in this handicap and Troubled Soul will notch in her 3rd win under rules.
Finally a 2 mile 7.5 furlong class 3 handicap chase rounds out proceedings for the day. I’m immediately drawn to CLONDAW ANCHOR as the Skelton charge has an interesting line of form being recent revelation Diablo De Rouhet. Finishing 2nd behind Nicky Henderson’s improver at Uttoxeter reads as good form as Clondaw Anchor had pulled 14 lengths away from 3rd he was just unlucky to bump into a real improver who’s won again since.
In a race that’s lacking the quality and depth of the race at Uttoxeter Clondaw Anchor looks likeliest winner. The 6 year old only got an extra 2lbs off the back of the last race and with the Skelton yard starting to hit stride it looks like he’ll go in at the expense of Cuban Pete who’s currently favourite. Venetia Williams’ runner made his chase debut at Hereford 15 days ago and won handily off a mark of 109. With a 6lb rise in the weights to deal with and soft conditions not looking to this ones liking I’m keen to take on the favourite.
With the best form on offer being that of Clondaw Anchor he looks capable of being able to give a chunk of weight to older rival Cuban Pete. The latter debuted in a class 4 affair and makes the move up to class 3 whereas the former showed he was worthy of this grade. Both have a lot of scope over fences but the strong form isn’t something I can ignore.