Timeform’s best bets at Catterick:
MORTLACH will surely find Stag Horn too hot to handle on these terms should that rival perform to something close to his best. However, Archie Watson’s representative needs to bounce back following a tame reappearance display in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton and he’s unproven over fences. Conversely, Mortlach arrives here in good form and he’s a safe conveyance with a good strike rate in this sphere, so he is narrowly preferred.
LIFETIME LEGEND was fairly useful on the Flat when trained in Ireland and has shaped promisingly on more than one occasion over hurdles since joining Neil King. He was easy to back but left the impression he may be ready to strike when hitting the frame at Huntingdon last week, not helped by having to take a trip around the houses. He is down to a good mark now and he should be competitive if building on that now turned out quickly. In-form Edgar Allan Poe seems sure to have a say and is next on the list, while Fazayte and Belle Na Bann are two more who need factoring into an open handicap.
SABBATHICAL arrives in top form having recorded his second win of the season at Leicester 12 days ago, quickly dispelling a lesser run over hurdles back in this sphere and it was also close to a career-best performance. A subsequent 5 lb rise for that success is fair enough and with conditions in his favour he should be hard to stop in his follow-up bid. Last year’s winner Da Vinci Hand rates much the biggest threat off an easing mark ahead of Elmount who is still relatively unexposed over fences.
This doesn’t look the strongest race of its type and the consistent CHASE A FORTUNE holds the clear edge on form of those with experience and can gain a deserved first success at the chief expense of Tom Lacey’s Warwick bumper winner The Cox Express, who commands plenty of respect and needs monitoring in the mark now making his hurdling debut. Beauty To Behold wasn’t seen to best effect when last of three on her hurdling bow and can also have a say.
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BETTY BALOO bumped into an above-average sort on her debut over fences at Market Rasen on Boxing Day and, though she didn’t progress as expected on her next start, she looked good when opening her account in this sphere over course and distance last month. She was receiving plenty of weight from her main rivals, but was readily on top at the finish, and the runner-up has franked the form by winning next time. She is just 2 lb higher now and looks the one to beat again given she may yet have more to offer. The maiden Lounge Lizard and Mance Rayder both figure on appealing marks but Fiston du Mou at least confirmed his wellbeing when winning a match here recently and he is feared most.
The one with the most persuasive claims is KISS MY FACE, who was in good form prior to a below-par effort on his latest start in this sphere and returned from a short break with a solid effort on the Flat earlier this month. He performed well enough when runner-up off 1 lb lower at Musselburgh in November to suggest that both this trip and mark should be within reach. Sanosuke may well benefit from moving up in trip and is next on the list.
Timeform’s best bets at Catterick:
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