A decent handicap hurdle but Soldier To Follow looks quite interesting now going handicapping off a mark of 117. Useful on the Flat, he was a winner at Hamilton over 1m 4f on soft ground when trained by Andrew Balding and with some heavy rain forecast to hit Bangor before the start of racing, it is positive that we know he will handle the potential testing going.
He showed considerable promise on two of his four hurdles starts, falling when in contention on hurdles debut at Fontwell and a close third at Huntingdon on his last hurdles start, beaten by a horse that was rated 124 at the time. Based on his Flat ability and the fact that soft ground might inconvenience a few of his rivals, he makes a little bit of each-way appeal here.
Stag Horn faces a couple of last-time out winners, but he had some very solid form on testing ground last year and with heavy rain on the way, the ground could end up testing at Catterick too. That could inconvenience some of his rivals.
Last year, he was only beaten two lengths into third behind subsequent Derby second Kalifa Sat and wasn’t beaten far in fourth in a useful maiden at Bath. Stag Horn got off the mark on handicap debut at Goodwood, beating Bondi Sands who won his next start to frank the form. While Stag Horn has been beaten in his last two starts, this race doesn’t look as hot and the softer ground should play to his strengths. The application of cheekpieces might bring about a little improvement too and that might be enough to help him get his head back in front.
This race has a wide-open look to it but it might be worth taking a chance on Ashington being ready to go on his first start on the Flat since this time last year. He was plying his trade in a higher grade than this when last on the level and has been in tremendous form over hurdles in the interim.
He won two of his five starts over hurdles and was placed in two really competitive handicaps in Musselburgh, including the Scottish County Hurdle off a mark of 121. He reverts to the Flat now off a mark of 83, which is no gimme, but he was rated 90 at his peak and we know that he handles soft ground. With plenty of rain forecast, he looks worth taking a chance on at an each way-price.
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