The meeting of the Flat and the real National Hunt is a part of the season I can really get my teeth into.
I will dive into Aintree’s big Sunday card in the next 24 hours, but the two-day meets in South Yorkshire and the Cotswolds offer some double-figure priced each-way plays worth a second look.
This looks a really tightly knit one mile nursery and despite a moderate run last time out I think that Ralph Beckett’s charge PATIENT DREAM is worth another chance at around double figures.
Winner of a Lingfield novice auction, the son of Al Kazeem was then allocated a reasonable mark of 78 for his handicap debut but had blown his chance after just two furlongs pulling way too hard.
With that further experience behind him and off this slightly reduced mark, I can see him bouncing back here – especially with the forecast of more rain – and he gets the value call over the likely market leaders Titian and Albanman.
I am very wary of Our Power here, who looked massively progressive at the back end of last season and a new mark of 136 may still underestimate his true talent, while Young Lieutenant looks to have been transformed by wind surgery and is sure to go well off his light weight.
However, both may have to bow to the equally progressive CAPTAIN TOM CAT who at the end of the last campaign was positively crying out for a step up in trip.
Despite making all on his last two starts at Uttoxeter he hit the line very strongly on both occasions and with his young conditional taking 7lbs off he looks very handily treated for this rise in class. I suspect young Cillin Leonard will be asked to have him in the firing line, but I am sure he doesn’t need to lead to win.
The two divisions of the mile and a quarter handicap which end the Town Moor card look interesting and I suspect that the three-year-olds will rule the roost in both races.
This Tim Easterby charge, SIR CHARLES PUNCH, has looked better and better as the season has gone on and given a stiffer test of stamina from one mile to 10 furlongs. Last time out at Haydock Park I thought he was just doing a shade too much through the early part of the race. He is probably best judged on his previous start over the same course and distance when put to sleep by Rachel Richardson at the back of the pack before making late inroads.
A similar ride off a 1lb-lower mark with Richardson once again in the saddle may well pay dividends, especially as there is bound to be a proper pace on from pillar to post.
There can be little doubt that the David Barron charge VENTUROUS would prefer slightly faster ground, but he does have bits and pieces of form on softer that still give him an outstanding chance here.
A fair close-up eighth at Thirsk earlier this season on good to soft ground off 86 and placed off 80 on a soft surface earlier on in his career pinpoints his chance. The now seven-year-old is set to run off just 78 here and at a double-figure price he looks the each-way call against the likes of Wrenthorpe and the consistent Ishvara.
With an outstanding record fresh, progressive seven-year-old HONEST VIC is worth having onside at the start of another season following a double career best last back end at Kempton and then in the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham festival when still finding the 2m5f on soft ground an insufficient test of stamina.
His fluent hurdling will always be a massive advantage in these races, especially at the business end allied to his high cruising speed. This extra yardage should see him continue to progress and he is actually 1lb lower here with useful conditional Richard Patrick taking 3lbs off his back.
There is no doubt that David O’Meara’s charge ARBALET has underperformed during this shortened campaign, but there have been a couple of runs that suggest he is still capable of landing a race of this nature – notably his fourth of 19 to Documenting at York and then half a length off the same horse at Ascot last month.
Dropped 4lbs in the ratings by the assessor since then, a fast run seven on this galloping track should suit and I am hoping that Adam Kirby will hide him in mid-pack to get some cover before unleashing him in the final furlong and a half and utilising his sharp turn of foot.
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Paul Jacobs’ bet summary
Friday, October 23
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