Paul Jacobs Sunday tips
Navan 14:40 – HIGHLAND CHARGE
This is a really fascinating renewal of the Boyne Hurdle with Cheltenham Cross Country hero Delta Work having his final warm up here before he defends his title at Prestbury Park, Saint Sam stepping up in trip to see if he can be considered a live Stayers Hurdle player and smart novice Blazing Khal making a belated seasonal debut with a view to running in the same race. All have questions to answer and the market may well be the best guide. However, if you are looking for an each-way player in a race (nine runners) which has a lovely make-up for such a wager, then Noel Meade’s charge hits the mark for me.
A fair novice hurdler in 2022, winner of a maiden and a Grade Three, the son of Fame and Glory has only run twice since March of last year, in chases and on both occasions it was blatantly obvious that fencing was not his game as he was awkward at his obstacles, not making a great shape through the air.
Back over timber, in this fairly esteemed company, there are still obviously questions to answer, but he remains extremely lightly raced for a horse of his age and Meade would not be running him in such a tough contest unless he thought he could do himself justice.
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Navan 15:10 – CAFE DEL MAR
These lowish grade, massive-field handicap hurdles (26 runners) are a great medium to find a ‘value bet’ and there are several I looked at in this line-up that could fit that profile. The mare Stellify has surely been running over the wrong trip and this step up in distance could suit her off a ‘no mark’ of 78. Plain Or Battered will appreciate running on this better ground and it is worth remembering that this will only be his sixth start over timber.
Leaving the market leaders aside, the outsider that attracted me most of all though was the Dave Phelan runner. Her sole career win has come on better ground, as was a second and third best performances and she is only 4lbs higher than for that sole success. The key to her chance here is getting into a nice rhythm early on and making her ground up slowly from the mid part of the contest. I thought that young Philip Byrnes rode her nicely last time out and wasn’t overly hard on when he knew her winning chance had gone. This extra quarter mile in a race with more chaff than wheat in it should be the perfect set-up.
Exeter 16:00 – MOKA DE VASSY
A mark of 134 would have guaranteed a place in last year’s Pertemps Handicap Hurdle Final and a 7lbs penalty here may just be enough for the selection to secure his date at this year’s festival for connections.
Everything about his performances in his six race career so far have strongly pointed to the view that a distance of ground would be his domain even if there are doubts on that score from his breeding outlook.
To date, his most eye catching run came when a strong staying second to the smart Pied Piper in last year’s JCB Triumph Hurdle Juvenile Trial over two miles at the famous track when all he did was just gallop on at the one pace up the final climb. Out of his depth on ground probably too soft in the Challow Hurdle on his seasonal debut, the son of Karaktar left that form well behind when a staying on fifth of 12 in the Ballymore Novices Hurdle at the back end of January. I am positive that this trip will more than bring out considerable improvement and I have already managed to grab a big price about the Pertemps in the hope that he can overhaul some more experienced rivals here.
Southwell 16:50 – LANCASHIRE LIFE
Many of you will look at this class six handicap sprint and think that such a race is a mug medium of a betting contest, but time and again horses at this basement level have been set-up to run well in these events that it is just a matter of spotting the right time to back them which to be honest is never easy seeing as the majority of this field win once in a blue moon and beyond!
Lord Cherry was a good winner over seven furlongs here last time out, but showed a good cruising speed that day and I suspect won’t be inconvenienced by this drop back in trip. He remains very unexposed, something that the majority of his rivals don’t, and by some way.
The Stuart Williams’ charge may well be worth mixing up in a reverse forecast with my selection who is seemingly an all or nothing horse, more the former than the latter to be fair.
However, I thought that the bay mare, winner of only one of her 21 starts, was finally ready to strike again following a nice staying on effort over five furlongs here two a half weeks ago behind course specialist Ustath in that speed event. Seeing as her only win has been over six furlongs at Newcastle, this extra 220 yards here is no worry and the five-year-old has a lovely sit in stall four to run from.
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