Conditions were described as good to firm at Exeter on Monday morning ahead of Tuesday’s seven-race card.
Only three go to post for the novices’ handicap chase over 2m 3f and Wicked Willy makes his chase debut for the in form Dr Richard Newland. He has the size to make his mark over fences and he will enjoy underfoot conditions more than was the case at Sandown last time when a well beaten third on heavy ground. Both hurdle wins came on decent ground although he did jump slightly left when scoring at Southwell back in June.
Raffles Gitane has been put in as market leader but is 7lbs higher than when scoring at Huntingdon back in January and the vote goes to SHIROCCAN ROLL who finished third in the corresponding race 12 months ago from a 6lbs higher mark – 13 if you include Joe Anderson’s claim.
Despite scoring at Market Rasen back in November – in a first-time visor – Emma Lavelle’s gelding has not gone on over fences as I hoped he might, given I thought he jumped very well in the corresponding race 12 months ago. That was a much stronger race than today’s and I am surprised to see he is the outsider of three.
Conditions are likely to be good to soft at Pontefract ahead of their first meeting of the year.
Their feature race is a valuable 10f handicap and I think the market has it right with a pair of lightly-raced four-year-olds INJAZATI and Peter The Great with the vote going to the Charlie Fellowes trained colt.
The selection failed to stay 12f when last seen at Newmarket, but he has nothing to fear from Love Is Golden on that form and the Johnston runner is third favourite having already had a run this term when second at Doncaster last month.
Injazati has a cracking draw for one who likes to race prominently, and Doyle was in the plate at Newmarket. The selection had previously won his last three starts and the drying ground will suit.
Peter The Great was sent off favourite for a top-class 3-y-old handicap on the July course when last seeing the track, when he pulled hard, ran wide off the turn, and failed to get home. He has been gelded in the interim period but is another well drawn in stall three. Note John Gosden won the corresponding race 12 months ago and he and son Thady look to have a big chance again.
Both Injazati and Peter The Great are likely to make up into Group level performers this term. Make no mistake this is a midweek treat but I just favour the Fellowes runner.
I am loathe to desert Steel Wave who has done us a couple of favour in recent weeks, but I am sure there are races to be won with ECOSSAIS from his current mark and he gets the vote for Oliver Greenall and amateur Toby Wynne who is excellent value for his 7lbs claim.
The selection got going too late when runner up here last time and do note rail movements mean there is a near additional furlong for the horses to travel this afternoon. That might prove crucial as the recommendation does get further.
LEMON T gave the outside up to no one here last time returning from his winter break and he is entitled to come on for that run his first in 80 days during which time he has had his wind operated on. He has dropped to the same mark as when winning over C&D back in May in first-time cheekpieces and I hope to see the grey reward each way support.
Hillview looks a worthy favourite but Ruth Jefferson’s 9-y-old looks overpriced at double-figure prices and can reward each way support. The hope is that jockey Callum Bewley does not race out in stall eight on this tight track representing a stable whose last four runners have finished 1221.
* Horse racing betting odds correct at the time of writing. All odds are subject to changes.