BetVictor’s Jack Milner previews Friday’s cards
This afternoon’s NH card at Chepstow has been abandoned with the track currently waterlogged and time spent perusing the South Wales formbook instead spent trying to dissect the entries for this season’s novice hurdlers at the Cheltenham Festival. A whopping 103 horses have been declared for the Albert Bartlett Novices Hurdle, 10 from trainer Gordon Elliott, and he has the well-supported 9/4 favourite Death Duty.
Two horses caught the eye on Trials’ Day at Cheltenham with Wholestone and West Approach both cut for the G1 3m Novices’ Hurdle in the aftermath; the former 7/1 from 16s with BetVictor and the latter 7/1 from 20s after an excellent third behind Unowhatimeanharry (6/4 favourite for the Stayers’ Hurdle) in the Cleeve on Saturday.
Jump racing has survived at Catterick where Malcolm Jefferson’s Mr Monochrome (1.45) can get his head back in front after chasing home Philip Hobbs’ well-regarded hurdler No Comment at Market Rasen. The selection scrambled home at Ayr when shedding the maiden tag over timber earlier in the campaign, but looked to improve for the step up in trip when losing to the Hobbs inmate last time out; beaten three and a half lengths when attempting to concede 6lb. Two and a half miles should see he improve further and in receipt of 4lb can get the better of Jedd O’Keefe’s Sam Spinner.
Cracking Find (2.45) got a brilliant ride from Danny Cook to score at the North Yorkshire track last time out over two and a half miles, and is a confident selection to follow-up stepping up to three miles under a 7lb penalty. The well-bred son of Robin des Champs has won two of his four starts since joining the Sue Smith yard and remains open to much further improvement on just his fifth start over hurdles.
Conquer Gold re-opposes Michael Scudamore’s Two Smokin Barrels (3.20) on 7lb better terms in the feature Mares’ Handicap Chase but the latter has improved on the back of all three wins thus far this season and should complete the four-timer under Michael’s brother Thomas. I was fortunate to witness her round of jumping in the flesh last time out on bottomless ground at Kelso and with the ground likely to be just as testing, she is a confident selection to jump her rivals into submission.
All-weather action comes from Lingfield and Kempton, where John Gosden’s Tricorn (6.15) can hopefully make a winning debut in the 7f Maiden under Nicky McKay. The selection is bred to be speedy, and is closely related to former Nunthorpe winner Margot Did. Nevertheless, the colt has plenty of stamina on his dam’s side of the family and must go close on debut against exposed rivals.
Dutch Golden Age (7.15) failed to stay seven furlongs last time out at Lingfield but had previously scored impressively over a furlong shorter and gets the nod to claim a fifth career success dropping back in trip. With the exception of a dead-heat here over 7f 12 months ago, all the gelding’s success have come over today’s 6f trip and he looks well-drawn to defy a recent 5lb rise at the weight.
George Baker gets the leg up on Dutch Golden Age, having partnered him to three successes already, and must likewise go close aboard Goodby Inheritance (8.15) in the mile and a half handicap. The selection chased home General Hazard on his seasonal debut over ten furlongs, subsequently raised 9lb by the handicapper, before bettering that when narrowly beaten stepped up to a mile and half last time out at Lingfield. Despite remaining a maiden after 14 career starts he appears well-treated to make it 15th time lucky from the plumb draw in stall one.
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