Rory Delargy’s Saturday Tips:
*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.
The going looked faster than the official good to soft on Friday at Ayr, and could be on the fast side of good if there is no overnight rain (reports are mixed), so that needs to be borne in mind.
Frere D’Armes won’t mind if the rain stays away having won well at Newbury in November with a fine win over Aucunrisque, Datsalrightgino, Straw Fan Jack and Balco Coastal that looks even better in retrospect. He looks like he has been set aside for this meeting, and ran well after a break at Ascot behind Black Gerry – a winner again since – early this month. A repeat of that could win him the race, but he’s likely to come on for it given how he shaped, and this track ought to suit him well.
At bigger odds, and assuming the rain holds off, Gold des Bois is worth a look having caught the eye at Doncaster last time. He is best on a sound surface, and has lifetime form figures on good or quicker of 1322311434. He travelled best in the race won by Calico at Doncaster only for a mistake at the penultimate fence to knock him back, and as a locally owned gelding, he’s sure to have been prepared for this meeting.
Hurricane Lane has been put in very short here, and looks worth opposing given his disappointing and brief campaign in 2022, and while he comfortably beat Mojo Star in the 2021 St Leger, the latter has a more progressive profile, and ran a career best to be a close second in the Gold Cup on his only start last term. Even if you insist on focusing on 2021 form, Mojo Star did finish ahead of Hurricane Lane in the Derby at this trip, so has a much better chance on paper than appears to be the case at early prices.
That form is better than he achieved in either the Derby or St Leger the previous year, and he is unlikely to want for fitness on his return, especially as he was a late withdrawal due to heavy ground at Nottingham last week.
Hold The Note would be of limited interest on quick ground, but makes plenty of appeal if there was ease underfoot, as he has become well handicapped for Ewan Whillans and won well in the Go North Red Rum Series Final at Carlisle last team, easily beating one who was the subject of a significant gamble. He was placed at the Cheltenham Festival as a novice for Mick Channon before losing his way, and has been gradually brought back to a peak for new connections (his owners sponsor the Grade 2 novice chase on this card), and still remains fairly treated despite a hike in the weights for his latest win.
Without any rain, allegiances would switch to Sail Away, another Skelton horse who looks to have been set aside for this fixture. He was weak in the market when a creditable 3½ lengths second of 4 to Jetoile in a novice handicap at Chepstow last month, and is expected to progress from that run, his first since May last year.
There are two of interest in the Scottish Champion Hurdle, with marginal preference for Soaring Glory who has been crying out for a return to a sound surface for some time. Colonel Mustard is unproven on a sound surface, but I suspect he will prove equally adept on good ground, and he looks a big danger after running so well in the Morebattle Hurdle at Kelso last month.
Soaring Glory has had two runs this season, one over fences which was nothing short of a disaster and one over a trip he does not stay. He won the Betfair Hurdle as a novice and was a creditable fifth off a 4lb higher mark in the same race last year, where minor errors at the last two flights cost him a place. He remains low-mileage in handicap hurdles, has been given time to come to himself and figures on a very fair mark if back to his best.
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This looks a tricky contest, and all the runners need to have a recent effort forgiven in order to be supported. I find that easiest with Datsalrightgino who was poorly positioned from the off in the Plate at Cheltenham last month, and can have a line put through that effort. He shaped well when splitting Stage Star and Unexpected Party over the same track and trip in January, and the smaller field here will suit. He was also giving weight to Balco Coastal when a good third to Frere D’Armes at Newbury in November, and reproduction of either of those runs would give him winning claims.
In all likelihood, Lattam will take the beating after his impressive display to cut down his rivals in the Irish Lincolnshire. He won only narrowly that day, but he came from an unpromising position with a devastating turn of foot, and can’t be underestimated.
The downside with Lattam is the price, however, and while I wouldn’t oppose him, I’d prefer to take a stab at some each-way value with Brunch, who is a thoroughly reliable sort in races like this. Very few of the field could be called well handicapped here, while plenty have serious questions to answer in regard to form, but while Brunch has no secrets from the handicapper, he has a solid back catalogue of efforts at this trip and in big field that would suggest he will be on the premises. His yard is just 1-66 for the season, but the horses are beginning to click and Bruch should run well if the ground doesn’t get any softer.
Magna Sam has a decidedly mixed record, but he’s barely been tried beyond three miles, and looked really well suited by a thorough test when landing the Edinburgh Grand National at Musselburgh in February on debut for Alastair Ralph. That race has worked out well, with Captain Cattistock, Truckers Lodge, Justdontknow and Innisfree Lad all winners subsequently. That made Magna Sam’s record in Scotland three wins from as many runs, albeit with all of those coming at Musselburgh.
As an unexposed stayer able to race prominently, Magna Sam has a good profile for this contest and having won by over four lengths last time, he doesn’t look badly treated despite being a few pounds out of the handicap here. Being out of the weights in this race has been no bar to success in the past, with Iris de Balme bolting up in 2008 from fully 26lb out of the handicap proper.
Rory Delargy’s Saturday Tips:
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