Qualifiers + Notes for now…
Drumlee Sunset (all hncps) 2nd 11/4
NOTE: Hobbs 8/50,16 places last 14 days. Horse unexposed and in form, jumps left so may prefer going this way round.
Special Catch (hncp c) UP
NOTE: Reveley 2/9,4 places last 30 days, 1/2,2 places last 14 days. Horse 3/9,5 places over fences and in good form also- more exposed than some in here and now on a career high mark.
Harry Hunt (all hncps + hncp h) UP
NOTE: McPherson 2/9,3 places last 14 days. In form, all conditions fine and a CD winner. Question over whether he is at the top of his handicap mark but impossible to say he cant win from this mark. Used to be rated higher. Will always be under threat from younger unexposed rivals.
Handsome Sam (all hncp + micro distance) 2nd
NOTE: King 7/40, 14 places last 14 days. Horse is unexposed albeit in poor form when last seen. King can ready them after the break. Some questions to answer now though.
San Benedeto (hncp c + micro distance/runs this season) 3rd 7/1
NOTE: Nicholls ‘in form’ 12/49,18 places last 14 days, before Thursday’s runners. Another who is fairly exposed still and has been running ok. This is a step up though out of Novice company and a step up in class. A few questions now but writing off any horse from this yard can be fraught with danger.
Shantou Bob (all hncp + hncp h + micro- TJC) 2nd 14/1 (ran much better than I expected)
NOTE: Greatrex slowly starting to find some form again after a quiet couple of weeks. 2/21,10 places last 14 days. Horse is lightly raced for his age and has clearly had his problems. Stamina to prove but two times he did were in much deeper races than this. Greatrex can ready them after a break, and is better with hurdlers than chasers in that regard- I will check HRB for the stats on those after a lengthy absence albeit he may not have had many in his career to date. – Greatrex only 1/32,7 places all runners more than 365 days odd, 0/18,2p in handicaps.
Solomn Grundy (hncp h) WON 6/1 > 5/1
NOTE: Mulholland also ‘in form’ 7/30,12 places last 14 days. This one is lightly raced and unexposed and ran well on seasonal reappearance at Cheltenham. Takes a step up in trip here but seems related to some stayers.
El Bandit (micro – horse runs this season) UP
NOTE: Nicholls again. Horse can’t stop winning. Steps back into handicap company. Won off 112 when last in a handicap, very easily. Now on 139. Hard to know if he has anything in hand or not really. Yet to prove this mark is beyond him I suppose. While I don’t like focusing on other runners too much.. that Behind Time ‘could be’ the one they all have to beat- so green the last day and he still won easily. Not penalised due to race type, he is certainly the talking horse of the race. But he steps up in trip and did look awkward at times.
This feels like a trappy day again and I wouldn’t be jumping up and down with loads of confidence for this lot I don’t think- it is hard to rule any out though really given they are either unexposed and/or in form/running well.
The 2.35 looks trappy – if Venetia’s turns up in the same form as LTO, and probably improves again, he wins this I think. Drumlee does have a going question/unknown on ground on the soft side- his geegeez speed figure, for that is worth,is much the worst here. At his price at the moment (11/4)I will leave him. Special catch is hardy and proven in soft and on that basis I would prefer him but it looks a tricky race.
3.10 looks trappy also with 5 of them having interesting profiles to me- could be anything to come from Ghost River and Logh derg . You couldn’t rule out City Supreme. Harry Hunt won this race last year and maybe this has been the target- he does look high in the weights against some unexposed types, but his hardiness could win out. The market may guide for Handsome Sam and I will see what it does- he has to leave behind some awful form but could do just that. Another with a really poor geegeez speed figure compared to most of these. Do think he probably needs 4 to underperform here – but at some point he may show he has loads in hand.
Newbury – San Benedeto looks fine- maybe the pick from all of these, possibly. No reason to want to leave him at around 6s/7s from what I can see.
3.20 – Really does look like they have the Fry horse to beat, who comfortably dismissed Solomn Grundy LTO, but he could get closer- prob an EW bet for me, he could chase the fav home again. El Bandit could go well- but is open to attack from others with more in hand but he would be dangerous to totally dismiss.
Famous last words but I will be leaving Shantou Bob- those greatrex fitness stats concern me- as do the fact he needs at least three at the top of the market to underperform here. This looks a tough task to my eye.
So, some fence sitting there! Feels like a tough day- Special Catch, Harry Hunt , San Benedeto and EW Solomn would be my own preference from that lot but we shall see how they all fare.
Good luck however you play them.