A tough day of cards. Chepstow hosts a really competitive jumps card, Catterick has a flat card in the mud and Southwell has an evening all weather card. It’s slim pickings but there’s winners out there somewhere with Chepstow being the main focus.
The second race on the card at Chepstow is an attritional 3 mile 2 furlong handicap chase. The class 4 encounter see’s 12 runners entered and it’s a case of finding who will stay. There’s not much of a pace on here so they’ll more than likely crawl around and quicken up in the home straight.
Favourite Christmas In April is one I want to take on. LEN BRENNAN has showed himself in a couple of long distance staying chases and run creditably. A career low handicap mark makes him look interesting as he’s placed in chases over 3 miles off marks of 122. Going off 120 here he’s still one of the top rated horses in the race but isn’t lugging around the largest weight. A spin over hurdles on his seasonal debut saw him go close behind Skelton improver Diomede Des Mottes. Only 1.75 lengths separated the 2 on the line at the start of the month and the run will have blown away a few cobwebs and protected his mark as a chaser. Another interesting thing to note about that run is it came on soft ground and there’s some cut in the turf here at Chepstow.
It’s an open race but not all of the entrants will handle the ground and have the stamina to remain competitive after 26 furlongs. Another Emotion is interesting dropping in class but he’s yet to prove himself over such a long trip. Carnspindle is also interesting but again the distance might be the downfall and lugging 12st around as top weight will be no easy task.
A return to fences should offer a bit more improvement out of Len Brennan and he’ll handle the trip and ground better than most in the field at a nice price.
The next race on the card is a maiden hurdle. Not always the easiest races to fathom but with all runners going off equal weights you have a level playing field to work with.
Favourite SEVERANO is looking an immediate likely contender. Running in a novice hurdle back in February the Oliver Sherwood trained 6 year old seemed to bump into 2 real sorts. A novice hurdle that featured both Reserve Tank and Elusive Belle. Coming third to these 2 is no mean feat. Severano was 11 lengths behind the front 2 but he put 10 lengths between himself and 4th place. Reserve Tank is unbeaten over timber, rated 151 over both obstacles after making a good chase debut earlier in the month. Elusive Belle is now rated 134 over hurdles and won impressively at Warwick back in April. The form of that novice hurdle is working out nicely and makes Severano the pick of a bad bunch here.
An up in trip will probably pull more improvement out of the selection if he’s ready to hit the ground running off his break. He’s been in the frame on all of his hurdle starts and 4th is the worst he’s finished. The field here is quite cluttered with a lot of runners but most are making debuts and are long odds. Arrivederci appears to be the biggest rival but the form of his hurdle debut is nowhere near as impressive as that of Severano.
Sticking at Chepstow for the remainder of our selections the next race we dip into is the 2 mile 7.5 furlong beginner’s chase. Trucker’s Lodge heads the betting but after falling very short in his seasonal reappearance over course and distance 18 days ago I’m looking elsewhere. PRIME VENTURE is looking a more likely candidate although the selection is 0-7 over fences.
The Evan Williams trained 8 year old was contesting much hotter races than this last campaign. He was last seen in the Bet365 Gold Cup at Sandown at the jumps season finale. Not his finest of showings and he finished 9th of the 15 but a long way detached. Simply not Group 3 quality dropping back down to class 3 here makes him look lethal. Most interesting in his back form is a second to Welsh Grand National 2nd Ramses De Teillee over course and distance. In a handicap chase that day he finished strongly at a big price. He then turned out at Chepstow again and finished 3rd behind Yalltari over today’s trip. He’s won fresh back when he was a hurdler so there’s no real concern about him having 185 days off. He’ll handle the cut in the turf, stays and has shown he handles the tough undulating test that Chepstow provides.
It’s a tough looking race but the best form on paper and a decent price to take has made me lean markedly to the second favourite. I’m not 100% what went wrong for Trucker’s Lodge in his last run, he seemed to be settled but went backwards fast when the pace got upped. 30 lengths off the pace it wasn’t the showing that should make him favourite here.
Finishing the day in the penultimate race on the card with a 2.5 mile handicap hurdle. Straight away there’s a line of form I’m drawn to. Favourite GUARDIA TOP beat recent winning tip Pop The Cork. The latter beat an odds on shot at Uttoxeter under Jonjo O’Neill Jr in a great performance to notch his first hurdle win. Guardia Top put him away by 5 lengths.
Holding a very generous mark of 97 after her form has been boosted and she’s been in the frame on all of her last 3 hurdle starts. The 3 year old is looking a good prospect over timber. A win over one who’s won since and beaten by Sizing Tara who then won a subsequent race. The form is looking solid and the filly carries bottom weight in this handicap. Her last race she made all and hit the line strongly. Up in trip today looks like it’ll suit even more. Whether or not she’s ridden as aggressively is yet to be established. But Sean Bowen has ridden her in her last 3 starts so has built up a decent working relationship with his mount getting her placed all 3 times.
Patsio will do his usual thing and go off hard so it might make more sense for Guardia Top to drop in just behind him. The juice in the ground will claim Patsio late on like it did at Uttoxeter. He managed to hold on for 4th in that race but had already folded back by 19 lengths from the winner. When he drops away Guardia Top will likely be there to take up the running as she’s used to juice in the ground and being prominent. It’s likely to be the lowest mark we see Guardia Top at in a handicap so it’s worth backing her now before she’s in the grips of the handicapper.