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With so much good national hunt racing on Saturday you will have to forgive me for throwing in a curve ball here with a class six (0-65) handicap over a mile at the Surrey track. But this game is all about finding the value, whether it’s a Grade One or a seller and this race has a lovely betting make-up to it.
Star of Valour is highly likely to start favourite on account of his running on neck second to Prince Rock over the course and distance when he would have won in another stride and is only 2lbs higher with the services once again of Hollie Doyle. He should make the market for the rest of these irregular winners.
I would be interested if there was any money for Hector Loza who hinted that his turn was just around the corner over six furlongs last time out, but I have a feeling seven is more his trip than a mile so EVENING SONG became the call.
The filly was running in a much higher grade through the summer on the turf and a repeat of her run at class three level at Newmarket would suffice now.
The daughter of Twilight Son returned from a two-month break with an eye-catching fourth of 14 at Southwell last time out and if taking a further stop forward here she will be very hard to keep out of the action at the sharp end.
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Probably not the deepest renewal of this Lanzarote Hurdle and although a couple of exposed older hurdlers have managed to get on the score board recently, by and large an improving young hurdler fits the bill here.
The exception to that rule in this field could well be Commanche Red, now 15lbs better off with Marie’s Rock for an 11.25 length beating over the course and distance last month. This slightly better ground is sure to suit the nine-year-old much better and he is no forlorn hope to hit the four at a double digit price. Ch’tibello is also fairly treated on his old form and this step up in trip promises to suit the now 11-year-old.
I am slightly put off his chance with a senior jockey taking over from a conditional which means that he will run from an 11lbs higher mark. So in the end I have decided to go large with one of the bigger priced outsiders from the Dan Skelton yard, namely CABOT CLIFFS.
To my eyes this five-year-old has been crying out for a step up in trip following one-paced efforts over two miles at Chepstow and Ascot. In the latter contest the son of Gleneagles was anchored firmly in rear of the nine-runner field and started to make stealthy headway from the third last without being touched by Harry Skelton. Briefly outpaced between the last two flights, he stood right off the last (showing there was plenty more left in the tank) and when Harry finally got stuck into him he finished to some purpose beaten six and a quarter lengths and more significantly by a neck by third-placed Leoncavallo.
He looks way overpriced in my eyes and although Harry is set to ride at Warwick and you couldn’t say that the five-year-old sticks out from a handicapping point of view, you can be sure that Bridget Andrews will get the best out of this young hurdler. He will relish this deeper test of stamina.
Very much like the feature at Kempton Park above, despite the 15 set to go to post, this looks a moderate Classic Chase and I am very keen on the chance of the David Pipe runner GERICAULT ROQUE following his staying on second to Saint Palais in the Mandarin Chase at Newbury over an extended three and a quarter miles.
On that occasion this lightly raced six-year-old put in a superb round of jumping and it simply didn’t have the gears in the closing stages to mount a winning challenge. This step up distance looks absolutely made for him and if he fences with that same fluency it is hard not to see him getting involved here with hopefully further improvement to come in the locker.
Top weight Corach Rambler is hugely respected having made great gains this season culminating in strong staying success at Cheltenham last time out. Off a mark of 134 he looked vulnerable approaching the last as Eva’s Oskar mounted a challenge, but he was merely dossing out in front and once Derek Fox got stuck into him, the eight-year-old found plenty and in the end ran out a pretty comfortable winner.
Off an 8lbs higher mark, Corach Rambler will quite obviously need to take another step forward, but that is not out of the question and he is in turn preferred to both last year’s hero Notachance (first time visor employed to sharpen him up after several moderate runs) and the lightly weight Captain Tommy.
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This is arguably the trickiest puzzle to solve away from the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton even though just the 10 will go to post.
It will be interesting to see if the wind operation has helped First Street after Nicky Henderson’s charge ran freely, but then fell in a hole from three in the Persian War Novices Hurdle at Chepstow. For the Lambourn maestro to have run him in that Grade Two event tells us plenty, but the jury is out on his physical well being.
Lucky One looks sure to have come on for his first run of the campaign at Doncaster and although he has some smart novice form from last year, he was 80 lengths last of nine at the Town Moor track.
So the one I wanted to have onside is the Alan King-trained GRISBI DE BERCE who ran a race full of promise last time out at Taunton in a class three affair. He looked plenty big enough in the paddock that day and ran accordingly, making ground at the back end of the far stretch at the third last before weakening when still in contention at the penultimate flight.
That was only his sixth start over hurdles and if he has come on appreciably for that run he should be wholly competitive off a 2lbs lower mark now.
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