Flights – Run in 14 points and has only finished out of the first 3 on one occasion. 6 of them have been 2nds though although it seems more that she keeps finding one too good rather than her being suspect in a finish. The comment no chance with the winner keeps appearing in her form. Was well backed when winning at Badbury Rings last month beating another well backed horse. Is the highest rated horse on point ratings in the race and form reads solid enough in this race. Will have no issues on the ground.
Florella – Finished alone when winning a heavy ground Godstone Restricted last month and was then beaten in a weak Intermediate at Parham last time. Even in a race as weak as this it is hard to see her being good enough on the form she has shown so far.
Kimora – Won this was in 2015 and 2016 and surprisingly didn’t run in it last year although it was a much stronger race than usual and she wouldn’t have made it a hat-trick. It will be quicker ground than the two years she won, but she should handle it. Won her first race since the 2016 victory last time out at Andoversford and that wasn’t a bad effort as she beat useful pointer Ni Sin E Mo Anim (who ended up being disqualified for missing a marker). The other two runs this season were decent enough in the context of this race as well. The jockey is a concern even though she did ride a winner at Cheltenham last week, but she has a good chance of landing this for the 3rd time.
One Big Love – Has gone through the grades this season and won her Intermediate 10 days ago at Littlewindsor. It was the same card Flights was a 7L 2nd in and the winning times were the same with One Big Love carrying 6lbs less. They also both ran on the same card at Milborne St Andrew in March where Flights was a 3L 2nd and One Big Love won. This time they carried the same weight and One Big Love was 3 seconds quicker. It does tend to suggest One Big Love might have the beating of Flights and she certainly has the best jockey in the race on. The question mark with her though is if she will handle this fast ground.
Young Cheddar – Ran OK at Ampton when 4th on his only start this season in January. Was in poor form last season though and was well beaten over course and distance off 102 on this ground last June. To be fair I’m not sure any of these would have managed much better so based on that and the Ampton run she wouldn’t totally be out of this.
Summary – This is a really weak race and hard to want to get too heavily involved. One Big Love looks the stable first choice and if she handles the ground she is probably the one to beat so I will have her onside, but I also want to cover Kimora. She looks a big price given we know course and distance suit well. The jockey is a worry, but I think that is factored into the price.
Tips – One Big Love and Kimora
Forever My Friend – Hard to know what form he is still capable of as he has been well beaten at Ludlow and Cheltenham this season, but both races were stronger than this. Was only last June that he won a handicap off 125 and nothing else in this race could do that. Handles quick ground as well so wouldn’t be a surprise if he bounced back to form here.
Never Complain – Won this race last year by 22L, but was probably the only horse in the contest to handle the soft ground. It was a shame he unseated at Dingley on his next start as Can Mestret ended up winning the race. This season he ran well on his return at Bangor until his lack of a run told late on. The close 3rd at Leicester over 2m was solid enough although he made hard work of it to finish that close. He was then 10th at Aintree which was as good as he could have hoped. Should be OK on this quicker ground than last year and has a chance to keep hold of his crown.
Can Mestret – A 2nd at this meeting last year showed a return to form and he has carried that on since. He looked the winner at Fakenham last week until his stamina ran out and this trip will be much more to his liking. Has a leading chance.
Fountains Cider – Was really lucky to win at Penshurst last month and has no chance in this.
Hammer And Anvil – Still a maiden and no chance here.
Hazy Tom – Won a weak race two starts back at Parham, but been well beaten in all his recent hunter chases.
Summary – Only the top 3 have a chance in this and it could be worth giving a chance to Forever My Friend who will find this lesser level of race more suitable. If he can get near the form he showed at Stratford a year ago that should be good enough and he has won on quick ground. Can Mestret will prefer this shorter trip compared to Fakenham last week and he might be the biggest danger so I will have him covered as well as a saver.
Tips Forever My Friend and Can Mestret
Herbert Park – A really tricky ride as he has shown on both starts this season although he won both. The Exeter win last time is pretty good form and Master Baker who was 2nd that day has won again since. He will need plenty of driving on the uphill finish to the line, but he is the one they have to beat. There is a slight question mark over the ground although you can say the same for the other leading contenders.
Bally River Boy – Got loose at Cheltenham and did a circuit, but clearly did him no harm as I saw him win a Restricted at Maisemore on the bank holiday Monday. I would imagine he will make the running although there are one or two others who might, but I think he will have too much speed. Quick ground will suit and although he is unlikely to be good enough to win he could run well.
In A Blue Dust – First thing to say is that the Racing Post have the wrong distance for his run last time as it was 2m4f not 3m. Clearly had issues as he was off for over 3 years before returning with a win at Cottenham in December. He then won next time out at Garthorpe although it wasn’t a strong heat. He was 2nd in that race at High Easter and the winner has won since. His form isn’t as good as Herbert Park and he was also beaten on both his runs on good to firm so that is a worry.
Just Cause – Has won really easily on the two times he has won this season, but then his jockey has also caused him to get beaten. Rupert Stearn took over in his hunter chase at Catterick where he ended up in 5th although in the context of this race that run is fairly good. He slipped up at Horseheath last time. He can be pretty keen and I think that might mean he struggles to see out the trip. He is one of the best horses in the race though, but I just can’t back anything the jockey rides so if he does win he won’t be carrying my money.
Summary – I don’t think the rest have any chance here. I was thinking Bally River Boy was going to be a double figure price so was surprised to see him so short. I think he can run well and he does handle the ground, but he is a short price on form. In A Blue Dust’s form on good to firm isn’t great and he needs to step up to bear Herbert Park anyway, although he shouldn’t be as big as he is in the betting. As I can’t back Just Cause because of the jockey I am firmly with Herbert Park. Yes the ground is a slight concern, but he has the best form in the race and although he is a hard ride he has got the job done both times this season and this looks a nice chance to land the hat-trick.
Tip – Herbert Park NB
Monsieur Gibraltar – It had been reported that Lorcan Williams had turned pro, but he seems to have put it off for now as I am guessing he wants to make sure of the amateur title first. He is the class act of the race and this is easier than the Cheltenham race he bolted up in last time.
Deadly Move – Won 5 points on the bounce last year and then went back to the trainers Dad under rules but it took him 4 goes before he was able to take advantage of his handicap mark of 107. Was novice ridden on his pointing return in March and he was never ridden to challenge. He should be capable of better today under a more experienced rider although hard to see how he can beat the top one.
Danandy – Was 2nd to Flights two starts back so she might frank the form in the first and he did win at Penshurst after that, but that was a weak race. Ran OK off 122 last August here, but evidence since suggests he is on the downgrade.
Don’t Do Mondays – Has found some form from somewhere winning 3 on the bounce, but as much as he is clearly in good heart, those were weak races and trying to beat Monsieur Gibraltar is a totally different kettle of fish.
Summay – As long as he gets round safely Monsieur Gibraltar should win this with ease. I am not sure how long 4/6 is going to be around for, but I was expecting 1/3 as this should be a walk in the park for him. Deadly Move should improve from his seasonal debut and he could be the one for 2nd.
Tip – Monsieur Gibraltar Nap
Curraigflemens – Has won on this card for the last two years, but I am surprised to see him running in this as I think he is better over a shorter trip. Although he has won one this season I am not sure he has been in quite the same form as the last two years and I think he will be outstayed and probably outclassed as well here.
Wonderful Charm – Gets his ground for the first time this season as it was way too soft for him at Cheltenham and Aintree. The slight concern is a more galloping track would suit given he found Stratford on the sharp side last year, but that was in the Stratford Foxhunters and he was a close 3rd. Nothing else in this race could be expected to run anywhere near to that level of form. It looks a perfect chance to get him back into the winners enclosure.
Al Co – Was beaten 40L in the 4 miler at Cheltenham, but didn’t run too badly and a bad mistake wouldn’t have helped. He will like the ground, but this could be a tough ask given he had a tough race less than 2 weeks ago.
Strollawaynow – Took full advantage of the Fakenham race falling apart last week to score by an easy 10L in the end, but he only beat a non stayer that day. At least we know he stays and handles decent ground, but 2nd the best he can hope for.
Summary – If Wonderful Charm doesn’t win this then it will be pretty surprising. He should be able to out class this lot. Curraigflemens shouldn’t be good enough or have enough stamina and I worry about Al Co having to try and back up running over 4m at Cheltenham, so Strollawaynow might be able to take advantage and finish 2nd.
Tip – Wonderful Charm to beat Strollawaynow fc
Big Bang De Loire – Won a maiden point in March, but he was disappointing in the Heart Of All England at Hexham when he was pulled up. The tongue-tie goes on for the first time which may help him and I wouldn’t want to totally rule him out, but at the same time I prefer others in the race.
Boygojumping – Was only just behind Starkie at Hackwood a couple of weeks ago which is good form in the context of this race. He was a fair 3rd to Flights the time before. He doesn’t really stay 3m and when he has been hunter chasing in the past he has never really had his ground. He was a close 2nd in the point to point bumper at Exeter a couple of years ago on decent ground and it wouldn’t surprise me if we saw an improved hunter chase performance tomorrow.
Changeofluck – He also ran on the Hackwood card earlier in the month although over 3m so we can’t compare the times. He was well backed and was an easy winner. That was following up a win at Kingston Blount where he was left clear at the last although he probably would have won anyway and the other horse has won since although it wasn’t a strong race I saw him win at Maisemore. Changeofluck recorded quick times in those wins although they were on cards where the better races weren’t over 3m so the times might not be as good a guide as usual. He was 3rd in the Restricted Final at Stratford which was a fair effort, but he was beaten 19L at the same time. He does have Gina on which is a plus and he has a good chance, but the price looks tight enough.
Full Batten – I really can’t understand why he is so short in the market. He hacked up in a Cottenham maiden in November, but it as a weak race. He has been beaten in 6 Restricted’s since and although he doesn’t stay 3m, they have been weak races he has been getting beaten in. So yes this trip might suit more, but I would be disappointed if he was good enough. He was also 29L behind Steeles Terrace who is a bigger price here and I don’t fancy him much either.
Goodnight Vienna – I’m not sure it would be great to see a 12yo winning a maiden hunter chase, but then this is a poor race and this one really interests me at a big price. Granted his run last time was poor, but otherwise I think he has a much better chance than his odds of 16/1 suggest. He has been running in much better races than most of these and was in front of a hunter chase winner at Ampton when 2nd to Warden Hill on his seasonal return. He was then a good 2nd in a Ladies Open at Horseheath. He was well behind Dabinett Moon when 2nd 2 starts back, but the soft ground wouldn’t have helped him there. He has run in 4 hunter chases 3 of which have been at Cheltenham’s hunter chase night and in the context of this race I think he has run creditably in all of them. He ran in the 4miler last year and was in front until the 22nd. That takes some doing and I think back down to this trip will help. I like his jockey and while he does have to bounce back from a poor run last time for me that is more than factored into his price.
Hinxworth – Might not be out of this. Was well backed when winning at Vauterhill and won easily 10 days ago. That was his 3rd run of the season and he has certainly improved on every run. I’m not putting him up, but if he did go and win it wouldn’t be a surprise and he certainly holds better claims than plenty here.
Le Fou Royal – Good jockey booking and fast ground suits, but the two wins aren’t great pieces of form and he doesn’t look good enough for me.
Steeles Terrace – Won his two over here, but was beaten at 1/2 in match after that and was beaten at Northaw on Bank Holiday Monday. I have been to Northaw many times and the form is always very weak so I think he might have a bit to find here.
Summary – Changeofluck might well win this, but he looks tight enough in the betting so I am going to take a chance on a couple at bigger prices. Boygoesjumping gets his conditions in a hunter chase for the first time and it was a really good run at Hackwood last time so he is one bet. The other though has to be Goodnight Vienna. He might be 12 and he might have been well beaten in his 4 hunter chases to date, but in the context of this race he ran creditably in all of them and this is by far the weakest hunter chase he has run in. He has run up against some fair pointers over the years as well and although he has to put a poor run last time behind him I fell that is more than factored into his price.
Tip – Goodnight Vienna e/w and Boygoesjumping
Numbercruncher – Racing under suitable conditions for the first time this season as either the ground has been too testing or the trip too far. He has run 3 eye-catching races as he ran well at Ascot until his stamina ran out. He was still in contention when unseating at Ludlow and then at Cheltenham two weeks ago he ran well to finish 7th in a hot race over a trip too far. A big player here.
Wells De Lune – Ran really well on his first start for a year at Bangor as he set a hell of a gallop in bad ground and still was able to finish 2nd to Barrakilla. He then hacked up at Ffos Las in a weak contest. He was never going to stay at Cheltenham, but led for a fair way and he was up there when coming down at Aintree although he was jumping left so hopefully he will jump better back over normal fences. He is likely to give it a real good go from the front although he will have competition from Brave Jaq, but the ground has to be a worry.
Brave Jaq – I thought he did fairly well to finish as close as he did at Cheltenham given how keen he was again. Could be a battle up front between him and Wells De Lune although that one is the better horse and Brave Jaq could probably do with a race where he isn’t going to get taken on for the lead.
Velvet Maker – Was well backed at Leicester, but was going backwards when unseating Maxwell. This is his trip and he has the back class, but the ground has a big worry and it is hard to back him after such a poor effort at Leicester.
Summary – For me the winner will be either Wells De Lune or Numbercruncher. I’ve been waiting for Numbercruncher to get his ideal conditions and I think he is in even better form than he was when he won at Stratford this season. He might well be able to pick off the front running Wells De Lune. I do think that one is a big danger though as despite the fact Brave Jaq will also be going quick he will be able to see him off. The ground is a concern for him though and that is enough to put me off at odds on. Brave Jaq has been backed and big prices and he might be able to hold on for a place.
Tip Numbercruncher e/w