Soft ground at Bangor-on-Dee for their feature meeting of the year, and it is a cracking seven-race card.
At the time of writing Tile Tapper (4/1) heads the market for the opening two-and-a-half-mile handicap chase, but the stable have been quiet of late, and he is 9lbs higher than when last seen winning at Chepstow back in February.
Yggdrasil (9/2) will appreciate the step back up in distance, having had a sighter over the minimum trip at Worcester on his reappearance. He won the corresponding race 12 months ago as a 4-y-old from a 12lbs lower mark, but he is only 4lbs higher than when scoring at Uttoxeter back in the spring.
My two against the field, however, are Hollywoodien (18/1) and KNIGHT IN DUBAI and I have backed them both.
Hollywoodien would have been the selection were it not for the form of the Tom Symonds stable, who have not had a winner for over two hundred days, although that is only eighteen runners in the period. The 11-y-old has been given a chance by the handicapper in that he is 9lbs lower than when running a very good race at Carlisle on his seasonal reappearance last term and the grey only had three starts last term.
Knight In Dubai won a Beginners Chase over C&D on heavy ground almost three years ago when rated 138, and he has been lightly raced since. He has been off the course since disappointing at Ascot back in January, but I remember him coming down at the top of the hill at Cheltenham when swinging away on his chase debut, and he has an excellent record fresh.
It might appear foolish to take on Found On – who would be giving plenty of weight to her eight rivals if this were a handicap – in the listed mares’ chase, but I am convinced there is plenty more to come from GALIA DES LITEAUX now that she makes the switch to fences.
Trained by Dan Skelton, the each-way recommendation cost £70,000 last November following a point win in a modest Irish mares’ maiden. She clearly goes well fresh, having scored at Ascot on her first start under rules but has the size and scope to improve for the switch to the larger obstacles.
Found On has won on soft ground, but her best form is, arguably, on a sound surface, and she is reluctantly overlooked.
The valuable 3m Paul Ferguson Jumpers To Follow Chase is an absolute cracker, and few – if any – of the fifteen runners can be easily dismissed.
Le Milos has his first start for Dan Skelton, and his primary objective is reported to be the Grand National in the spring. This looks like an ideal starting point, and he is likely to have to go up a few pounds in the weights if he is to be guaranteed a run in the great race.
Harry Fry has hit form recently, and ASK ME EARLY gets the each-way vote. The grey has won three of his five starts over fences and is considered more a Welsh National type. The more rain, the better for the 8-y-old who gets the each-way vote.
The unbeaten mare Lady Adare has been put in market leader for the valuable handicap hurdle for Harry Fry, but this is the strongest race she has contested to date and likely to be the softest ground given all four of her career wins have come on ground officially described as good to soft.
At the time of writing, five of Venetia Williams last six runners have finished runner-up, but she is sure to strike gold sooner rather than later, and this is the time of year when her string invariably move up a gear.
GEORGES SAINT has had his wind operated on since finishing down the field in a valuable handicap hurdle at Sandown on Imperial Cup day back in March. The grey won two chases in his native France at this near 2m 4f trip, although his best run in Britain came over the minimum trip on debut. He has been dropped 3lbs since that run at Haydock over Christmas.
The valuable finale to the sprint series takes place at Kempton this evening. In the last qualifier for the series, the first four home were drawn 3-4-1-2, and I think the low numbers will hold sway in this evening’s £80k contest.
Aramis Grey finished a neck in front of APOLLO ONE seven days ago, but the hope is that the runner-up can reverse the form on 5lbs better terms. The pair have again been fortunate with the draw this evening as they will come out of stalls 2 and 4, and the selection can race off a mark 10lbs below his last winning one. He has been raised 2lbs for last week’s run but can race from his old mark this evening.
Richard Kingscote worked the oracle with the hitherto frustrating World Without Love at Wolverhampton on Monday, and he was back in the saddle on the each-way recommendation last week.
* Betting odds correct at the time of publication. All odds are subject to changes.