1.25 Hereford - Princess Midnight (Each Way)
The ground was described as good at Hereford on Sunday and the rain which is forecast to hit the track is not due to arrive until after racing.
Dame Du Soir is beginning to look well handicapped for David Bridgewater but, at the time of writing, the mare is engaged at Huntingdon on Sunday and unlikely to race again 24 hours later.
The Feckenham Fox jumped superbly – if slightly out to his left - when scoring at Fakenham when last seen back in December but that was trainer Max Young’s last winner although he has “only” had sixty-seven runners in the interim period. A market move would be significant.
Joe Tizzard runs PRINCESS MIDNIGHT (EW) right-handed for the first time in over eighteen months and the mare has had a fruitful summer winning two of her six starts despite jumping out to her right on occasions. She has been raised 15lbs since the spring, but the yard’s conditional Harry Kimber takes off a valuable 5lbs. She has had a small break since finishing second at Worcester over five weeks ago and is a course winner here previously over fences – albeit over the minimum distance.
2.35 Hereford - Mackelduff
In the middle of September Olly Murphy announced that Aidan Coleman would no longer be his stable jockey and that Sean Bowen would be given more opportunities although, in fairness, he did not describe him as the new retained rider.
In the last fortnight Murphy has saddled eighteen runners of which Bowen has ridden two while his three winners in the period have been booted home by Adrian Heskin – inspired ride on Thunder Rock on Friday – Coleman and conditional Daire Davis.
Bowen is in Wexford this afternoon to ride the Grand National winner Noble Yeats with Coleman keeping the ride on MACKELDUFF who is taken to make a winning chase debut for the yard in the valuable novices’ handicap chase.
The selection has an excellent record fresh and both hurdle wins came on good ground at around two-and-a-half miles. Coleman has ridden the gelding – who is bred to make a chaser - four times previously and their record reads 1-1-3-2. He must give weight to his five rivals, but he has the size to carry weight and the scope to jump a fence.
Midnight Jewel heads the market and he was just losing the argument with Fairway Freddy when coming down at the last at Stratford when chasing a hat-trick last time. He is 2lbs higher this afternoon and he sets the standard although I don’t think it is an insurmountable one.
Highstakesplayer is not bred to make a chaser, but he represents an inform yard and was improving at a rate of knots when last seen over timber. He failed to get home over 3m behind Manofthepeople at Doncaster when last seen in a race where they only jumped five hurdles because of the low sun. The winner made an impressive chase debut doing us a favour at Chepstow earlier in the month.
Note the early market mover has been Samtara 10/3 from 4/1 with Hills.
2.20 Plumpton - Light N Strike (Nap)
There is an extremely valuable 2m 4f+ handicap hurdle and I think it rests between Lord Baddesley and LIGHT N STRIKE with preference for the latter who is more than double the price of the Chris Gordon runner.
Lord Baddesley ran a terrific race to be second to the progressive Knappers Hill in the Silver Trophy earlier in the month and he has been raised just a pound as a result. He is a worthy market leader, and the yard had the winner of the valuable Ascot hurdle courtesy of Highway O Two.
Light N Strike is unbeaten in two starts at Plumpton and both were under today’s excellent conditional Jack Wildman on good ground albeit over the larger obstacles. He took a crashing fall at Chepstow over fences last time when challenging three out and reverts to timber this afternoon from an 8lbs lower mark – fifteen if you include the jockey’s claim.
With Lord Baddesley in the field, he can only be an each way recommendation in a high-quality Monday hurdle.
4.13 Kempton - Warren Point
A fantastic card at Kempton also and Counsel would have been worth an interest in the mile handicap were it not for his dreadful draw out on the wing. The highlight is the listed Floodlit Stakes over 12f, and I think the market has this right with Candleford and WARREN POINT vying for favouritism.
Candleford was allowed to get out of the stalls in his own time by Stevie Donohoe in the Cumberland Lodge at Ascot last time and he was only beaten just over a length in the end. He has valuable all-weather experience having won here in handicap company back in November and has the plum draw in stall one. That said he cannot afford to be tardy from the gates again or he will find himself behind a wall of horse going into the first turn. Cieren Fallon takes over in the saddle.
Warren Point is drawn next door to the Haggas runner and steps back up in distance to 12f on his all-weather debut. He has only had five career starts, winning three of them and is out of a listed winner at 14f. He looked ready for a step back up in distance when third in a valuable handicap at Newbury last time.
Wild Crusade holds a verdict over the selection, and he might be the pace in the race having made all to beat Warren Point – 1lb better off - at Ascot back in July. If he doesn’t make it, then it is likely to become tactical and a real burn up in the last three furlongs.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.