In the Weatherby Hamilton Handicap Hurdle (2.35) at Wincanton on Thursday, Presenting Arms clearly wasn’t at his best on his final start last season, but won with plenty in hand on his reappearance at Kempton ten days ago and has an obvious chance of following up. The Presenting gelding escapes a penalty for victory in that conditional jockeys’ contest and, having run well on his sole attempt on heavy going (when with Paul Nicholls), shouldn’t be unduly inconvenienced by testing conditions.
Former point-to-point winner Capilla made short work of six rivals in a 0-100 contest at Lingfield on Tuesday and makes a quick reappearance under a 7lb penalty. Testing conditions appear to be the key to the Beneficial gelding and, having won a point-to-point over 3 miles, he should have no problem stepping up to 2 miles 4 furlongs over regulation fences in the #Belikedan Daniel Rhodes Memorial Amateur Riders’ Handicap Chase (3.10). Amateur rider Conor Orr has only ridden a couple of winners for Evan Williams so far in his fledgling career, but is perfectly able and been praised by his trainer for his awareness in the saddle.
Selections: Wincanton 2.35 Presenting Arms, Wincanton 3.10 Capilla (win double)
Nicholashayne trainer David Pipe has a respectable 12-67 (18%) strike rate with his hurdlers at Newbury over the last five seasons, for a level stakes profit of 22.46, and Kalifourchon appears to have an excellent chance of improving that record in the Bet365.com Novices’ Handicap Hurdle (1.35) at Newbury on Thursday.
The Martaline gelding was still bang in contention when unseating his rider at Sandown last time and had previously been on an upward curve, so deserves a chance to make amends. He remains 8lb higher in the weights than when winning at Uttoxeter on his penultimate start, but is eased in grade, albeit slightly, and can win his fourth race from five starts under Tom Scudamore this season.
By contrast, Milborne Port trainer Colin Tizzard has a fairly dismal 2-33 (6%) strike rate with his steeplechasers at the Berkshire course, for a level stakes loss of 26.25 points. However, that fact alone shouldn’t count against Native River, who otherwise has plenty going for him in the Bet365 Novices’ Chase (2.10). Rated 145 over hurdles, the Indian River gelding has made an excellent start to his chasing career and can continue his progress.
Selections: Newbury 1.35 Kalifourchon, Newbury 2.35 Native River (win double)
Crazy Chic was beaten on his only visit to Chelmsford, in May, but that defeat came over 6 furlongs and the son of Exceed And Excel has since taken his form to a new level over 7 furlongs. His half-a-length defeat of Hold Tight at Lingfield three weeks ago – with subsequent winner Dutiful Son back in fourth – was the best we’ve seen from him and, in his current mood, may be able to complete a hat-trick in the Scoop6soccer Handicap (6.05) at Chelmsford on Thursday.
Clondaw Banker started favourite for the race won by Old Guard at Cheltenham last month, but could only finish sixth of eleven, beaten 9¼ lengths behind the winner. However, the Court Cave gelding made amends when winning a conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle at Sandown eleven days ago, a victory for which he escapes a penalty. His previous form also took on new significance when Old Guard followed up in the Greatwood Hurdle at Cheltenham on Sunday so, despite stepping up in class, Clondaw Banker is quite a confident selection in the Lord Tennyson Handicap Hurdle (2.05) at Market Rasen.
Selections: Chelmsford 6.05 Crazy Chic, Market Rasen 2.05 Clondaw Banker (win double)
Nothing succeeds like success, or so the saying goes, so in the hope of a nice payday this week we’ve come up with three selections, each of which is seeking a hat-trick and each of which is, coincidentally, facing similar opposition to last time.
Love The Leader completed a four-timer over hurdles and fences in the space of twelve days last month and can take his winning tally to five in the Totequadpot Four Places in Four Races Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (2.10) at Taunton on Thursday. The handicapper has had his say, raising the gelding 14lb for his most recent success, but Johnny Farrelly’s 7-year-old should benefit from stepping back up to 2 miles 7 furlongs and there’s no telling where his improvement could end.
Helium has returned to action in fine form and can defy a 7lb penalty in the Support the Ludlow On Course Bookmakers Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase (2.00) at Ludlow. Aleaxandra Dunn’s 10-year-old failed to trouble the judge in five starts over hurdles last season, but is 2-3 over fences this season and ran on well to win by 4½ lengths over course and distance ten days ago, despite being hampered on the bend at the top of the home straight.
Last, but hopefully not least, Charlies Mate appears to have improved for the drop back to a mile on his two most recent starts and is another who can defy a 7lb rise in the weights in the Win a Football Fortune with Scoop6 Soccer Handicap (6.55) at Chelmsford. The Myboycharlie gelding has finished outside the first three just three times in his last fifteen starts and won on his only previous visit to Chelmsford two starts ago.
Selections: Taunton 2.10 Love The Leader, Ludlow 2.00 Helium, Chelmsford 6.55 Charlies Mate (3 x win doubles, 1 x win treble)
Oxfordshire trainer Harry Whittington has made a cracking start to the season with seven winners from 25 runners at a strike rate of 28% and can improve that record with Duke Of Medina in the Winner Ap Juvenile Hurdle (1.10) at Market Rasen on Thursday. The son of Rock Of Gibraltar made a satisfactory debut over obstacles when second, beaten 2¼ lengths, behind hot favourite Duke Street in a small race at Ludlow last month and, back on soft ground, can go one better.
Harry Whittington’s Oxfordshire neighbour Charlie Longsdon can also do little wrong so far this season, with 40 winners from 158 runners at a strike rate of 25%, and has bright prospects with Ready Token in the Winner.co.uk Handicap Chase (2.15). The Flemensfirth gelding won with any amount in hand over course and distance last month and a 9lb rise in the weights may not be enough to prevent him recording his third win from five starts.
At Musselburgh, Irish raider Winter Lion made a winning debut over hurdles at Punchestown three weeks ago and can defy a 7lb penalty on his British debut in the Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Novices’ Hurdle (2.05). The Galileo gelding won a couple of times over 1 mile 6 furlongs on the Flat, but stayed on well to assert close home at the Co. Kildare track and may have more to offer.
Selections: Market Rasen 1.10 Duke Of Medina
Market Rasen 2.15 Ready Token
Musselburgh 2.05 Winter Lion
3 x win doubles, 1 x win treble