This looks fairly competitive for the level with top weight Maypole Class pushed back up to a class three event after winning at a lower level last time out. Eceparti clearly didn’t stay three miles last time out and the assessor has dropped him a couple of pounds for that run, while Luckofthedraw is surely better than his pulled up effort at Exeter last time out suggests.
So lots of questions to answer here which makes bottom weight Duhallow Lad arguably the most solid betting proposition in the field. Two from eight at this discipline his running on effort over an extended two miles at Bangor last time out strongly suggested he needs this kind of trip nowadays and his fluent fencing will be a huge asset around here.
Mick Appleby was utterly confounded by the decision to get rid of the Fibresand surface at Southwell and I have to say I agree with him. All we will get is twin set up alongside that of Wolverhampton. I really liked the betting make-up of this race with likely favourite Lucifer (up from a handciap rating of 46 to 62) trying to defy that career high mark. He looks fairly solid, while it will be interesting to see how the lightly raced top weight I Had A Dream fares in the market place.
But the Oakham based trainer could have the answer to this extended mile handicap with the Horse Watchers’ newly acquired charge, Fenix. A mile and a quarter has been too far for this lightly raced sort and a stern test over a mile around here looks made to measure and Appleby has an eye for a horse that can take to this surface.
Birkenhead, Dark Shot and that tremendous old boy Duke of Firenze are very closely matched up on their previous course form and you can make a viable case for any of the trio. The last named is set to have his 98th career start and seems to retain his enthusiasm for the sport and is always a player at this level if he gets the hot pace up front that he needs.
However, Alsvinder, despite making his Fibresand debut, makes plenty of appeal in this grade off a winnable mark. His recent runs at Wolverhampton and Chelmsford suggest he comes here in good form and the blinkers are retained following a race that wasn’t really run to suit him last time out at the Essex track.
Spring Romance has been a revelation on this surface this autumn/winter and Laura Pearson’s 7lbs claim effectively negates the penalty incurred from his last success here just the three days ago. I am also sure that Vape has a better run in him after a disappointing effort at Kempton Park last time out when he was punted, but ran way too free in the initial stages.
But the Richard Hughes’ runner The Nosey Parker could well be a class above these. Bred to get up to a mile, it seems that a fast run six furlongs is his trip following wins at Lingfield and Wolverhampton and if he acts on this new surface, I think he will take all the beating and contest some of the more valuable sprint handicaps across all the artificial surfaces over the next three months.
Paul’s tips for Sunday
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- 3 horses to get into your tracker after last week’s races
- Ruby Walsh: Altior withdrawal will be justified by Champion Chase victory