Tuesday brings a couple of cards from Southwell and Sedgefield to digest. The 5 day declarations are out for the Ladbroke Trophy on Saturday so that’s worth mulling over as I took my ante post punt yesterday. As usual here’s a few selections to pick up some ammo to go into a big weekend of racing.
Starting the day in Southwell for the first race on their card and a 2.5 mile handicap chase. Jamie Snowden’s rejuvenated Battleofthesomme heads the market after smashing in a brace of wins recently over hurdles and fences. The quick succession double was impressive but for his big 15 length win at Southwell 32 days ago the handicapper responded with a 13lbs hike in the weights.
With the favourite being a short price I’m leaning to taking him on with SHINTORI. The 7 year old is made his reappearance 22 days ago at Plumpton over 2.5 miles and handily beat Lickpenny Larry giving him chunks of weight. The form has had an immediate boost with Lickpenny Parry winning readily at Uttoxeter on Sunday. 2.5 miles is most certainly Shintori’s bag and he rounded out last season with a win at Fontwell over the same distance, I’m unconvinced however that it is the ideal trip for Battleofthesomme. His last 2 runs last season were around the 2.5 mile mark and he ended up pulling up in both. With the price being so short, the handicapper sinking his teeth in and the distance being a query it’s almost impossible to back the favourite. In his 2 recent wins he front ran but with this extended trip I don’t think Page Fuller will want him trying to make all. This is where Shintori could take the initiative and lead this small runner field as he has before. Or he could be held up and make smooth late headway through the field easily to take up the running late. Either way he always seems to arrive travelling really strongly and it’s good to have some versatility to his running style.
With the other 3 runners looking less than inspiring and the favourite looking unlikely to stay I’m giving Shintori the vote of confidence to show why he’s rated 4lbs higher than the next best of these. Whether he makes all or appears from the back travelling well might be a bit unclear this time but he simply looks to be the best of a bad bunch at this distance.
Another one where the market appears to have corrected overnight and I kick myself for not nibbling the evening before as NIFTY AT FIFTY has become favourite for this 3 mile handicap hurdle.
This selection comes with a warning as he’s an absolute basket case, yet the application of a hood seemed to hinder his performance. Instead you’ve got to take it on trust that he’ll actually behave and give Bryan Carver an easy time of it in the saddle. On his last run he looked the most likely winner approaching 2 out before seeming to try and refuse the hurdle, jink to his left and unseat his jockey. He looked the most likely winner and was starting to assert his dominance on the race before attitude seemingly got the better of him. Antics aside he is a good 3 mile hurdler and with Bryan Carver being able to use his full 7lbs claim and the handicap mark being untouched for his last run I fancy him to make amends for the blunder. He handles soft and has a decent late turn of foot to assert these kinds of races. He found another gear at Exeter that took him to the front so it might be worth Bryan Carver trying to wait with him this time till closer to the line. If he can bottle up that burst and use it closer to the final flight to get away from a nearby rival it might make him behave. He seemed to really enjoy his battle to the line with Sandy Boy back at the start of October so having a rival close up might be ideal.
He’s hard to trust but he still looks well handicapped and a good claimer on board. He just needs to behave, hopefully if he has cover to the line he can battle out a tough looking victory from No Rematch or Amzac Magic.
Moving over to Sedgfield for the last runner of the day and a 2 mile handicap chase. At the head of the market is Joke Dancer and the Sue Smith trained 6 year old is one I’m keen to oppose. With the trainer only breaking a 200+ day duck at Uttoxeter on Sunday I’m still wary of the yard and their apparent cold streak. Last week she had a few likely sorts easily turned over at short prices and I don’t want my fingers burnt.
Instead I’ve opted to side with TONTO’S SPIRIT for Dianne Sayer. Now not exactly a yard on fire but they’ve not sent out the amount of runners as Sue Smith who I believe tipped 0/75 before Sunday. The selection was an impressive course and distance winner 56 days ago after edging out Nietzsche by a neck. Behind them were Saint Freule who won on his next start and River Frost who’s won and come 2nd since. The form has took some real boosting and looks to be the best on the table in this handicap field. Even in his other chase starts he beat some really decent looking horses like Garo Du Juilley who was 2nd in a class 2 at Cheltenham in October. When these novice chasers make the switch to handicaps it’s hard to know exactly how much they are going to have in hand. Considering the 3 beaten rivals mentioned are now rated between 128 and 134 it’s a lot better than most of the opposition that lines up today. It’s only a small runner affair and Tonto’s Spirit is the only runner to bring some real chase form to the table that looks solid. I’m surprised he’s not favourite but with Joke Dance being a good class 2 hurdler he needs to be taken seriously as the biggest threat to transition smoothly to fences.
Expect Tonto’s Spirit to bounce out into the lead from flag fall. He’s got the most chasing experience in this field and is going to put everyone else’s technique under real scrutiny. He’ll gallop away and ping every single fence at the front, as he ups the tempo those in behind are going to have to be foot perfect to reel him in and I just don’t think that any of them are good enough to get on terms with him.