Jack Milner of BetVictor looks ahead to Wednesday’s cards
Much debate in the racing press in recent days surrounding the well-being and possible Cheltenham Festival targets of the two latest Champion Hurdlers Faugheen (2015) and Annie Power (2016) with trainer Willie Mullins suggesting earlier in the week that both could run in the Champion.
Faugheen hasn’t run since landing the Irish Champion Hurdle 12 months ago but is due to reappear in the corresponding race on Sunday at Leopardstown, whilst Mullins reports Annie Power, not seen since winning the Aintree Hurdle back in April, will reappear at Punchestown next month.
We have opened a book at BetVictor asking whether either, neither or both will run in the Champion Hurdle in March and bet:
We would be staggered if connections allowed them to race against each other and, indeed, both have to get there in one piece first!
A decent card at Catterick and Hinton Indiana has returned to the yard of Dan Skelton and is fairly treated on his best form – do watch out for a market move. Preference is for Irish raider Suzy’s Music (1.55) who has been dropped 5lbs since finishing fifth at Wetherby over Christmas and the drying ground should suit a mare who is only 1lb higher than when scoring at Wetherby this time last year.
The 2m 3f Handicap Hurdle is a cracker and Nietzche (2.30) goes unpenalised for his Market Rasen success last week given that was a conditional jockey’s event. The four-year-old pulled hard on that occasion but still proved ahead of the handicapper and Megan Carberry again comes across the Irish Sea for the ride. The selection beat Project Bluebook at level weights earlier in the season and the latter won a competitive handicap hurdle off 127 (now rated 141) at Musselburgh last week.
Nietzche, taking Carberry’s allowance into consideration, runs off 118 this afternoon and must go close although he can take a pull in his races and there is no guaranteed pacesetter in the field.
Top-weight Jaleo went off favourite for the Lanzarote and is another potentially ahead of the handicapper and the Catterick executive must be delighted with the field for this £9,000 contest.
Two Taffs (3.05) has the scope and ability to make a decent chaser and the hope is that he has a confidence booster in the Novices’ Chase, which looks a gilt-edged opportunity for connections.
At Ludlow I’m going to take a chance on Butlergrove King (2.15) in the hope that the 8-year-old can get a soft lead for Dai Burchell. The selection made all when scoring over 3 miles here in October 2015 off a mark only 1lb lower and he can reward each way support at what looks sure to be a big price.
Toberdowney (4.00) looked in need of further when getting home under an inspired Leighton Aspell at Wincanton on Boxing Day and the runner up (Sister Sibyl) won the opener at Leicester yesterday. The mare won a Perth Bumper before joining the yard of Oliver Sherwood and can rate much higher than her current rating in time.
Castafiore (4.30) was not beaten when coming down at the last behind Project Bluebook at Musselburgh last time and that form, as stated previously, has been well and truly franked. Richard Johnson takes over in what looks a decent and informative juvenile fillies’ contest.
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