Paul Jacobs Value Tips
2.25 Huntingdon – COUNTERACT
Nine days before the Cheltenham festival and the cupboard is fairly bare, but this top race of the day on my lists looks an interesting set-up even though we are one short of the dead eight set to go to post. Plenty of these come here in good form with three of the entries having finished second last time out; the best of those performances probably from Le Tueur who returns from a nice break to freshen him up.
There should be plenty of pace on here courtesy of the free running top weight Phil the Sock and the prominently ridden Cloudy Wednesday to ensure a true run race and that should suit the selection down to the ground.
Two from nine over fences, wins off 78 and 88, Suzy Smith’s charge gets to race off a mark of just 84 here and has a reasonable record when fresh to boot. Good ground is his preserve and he should get a lovely tow into this competitive contest for the level.
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3.20 Ffos Las – KINGCORMAC
Even the normally sodden turf of the West Wales track is desperately holding onto the word ‘soft’ in its going description and it could well be good all round when the meeting kicks off. That is positive news for the likes of Emorelle and chasing debutante Holderday Ridge, both best on a sound surface. But even though both are reasonably treated here I don’t think they will be able to throw down the gauntlet to the recent Hereford winner.
Although that success came on a fairly testing surface, this ground should hold no terrors for the Joe Tickle trained runner who was merely marking time on three starts over hurdles before being sent chasing.
He has upped his game markedly since being sent over fences and probably would have been on a hat-trick had he been ridden slightly more prominently at Exeter, when he used up too much gas too quickly coming out of the back stretch on the uphill climb to the home straight. Harry Cobden once again takes the mount and I think that this progressive sort can defy an 8lbs penalty.
3.35 Huntingdon – STRIKING A POSE
In the hope that all eight acceptors stand their ground then I fancy a huge run from the selection after he scuppered his chance in a better race at Leicester last time out when looking in need of the run when a long way behind Jacamar. The handicapper has been more than fair by dropping the seven-year-old to his last chase win mark of 123. What is interesting is that the gelding keeps on jumping to his left all the time, but all his three career wins have come right-handed, try to understand that?
Previous to that run last time out he was keeping much more esteemed company than this and back in his novice season was crossing swords with Dusart and company off marks of 10lbs and upwards higher. The key to his chance is just dropping the bit and relaxing early on as he can be a bit free, but he is generally a sound fencer and I fancy the son of Getaway to see off the top weight The Big Lense and Rocky Lake. The last named was a bitter disappointment last time out, but should be winning off this kind of rating for Emma Lavelle.
4.55 Leopardstown – BIRCHDALE
A relatively poor turn out for this class B handicap chase with just the nine runners declared for more than fair prize money. Paddy Power Chase third, Panda Boy, will relish both this relative drop in grade and return to two and a half miles and although 4lbs higher here, the still lightly raced seven-year-old has solid claims under regular rider JJ Slevin.
Upping The Anti was given a winter break by Henry De Bromhead and will enjoy the drying ground, but will probably need a career best to land this prize so the nod goes to the selection following a cracking run over the course and distance returning from a 169-day break on February 5th. I remember when he was with Nicky Henderson the Lambourn maestro thought he would develop into a graded chaser, but every time he was fancied to land a nice prize the now nine-year-old would throw in the odd stinker.
The key to him is running fresh and although a 28-day break would be a minimum time back on the side lines, I think he look set to land only his second chase win on his 16th start ahead of the likes of Jerandme (arrives him fit from the flat) and the aforementioned top weight.
*All prices are bang up to date with our snazzy widgets, while odds in copy are accurate at time of publishing but subject to change.
Paul Jacobs Value Tips
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