The Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot is Saturday’s feature race with Defi Du Seuil the 8/11 market leader with BetVictor to follow up his win in the Tingle Creek at Sandown last month. Willie Mullins’ Un De Sceaux turned 12 earlier in the month but he only has a neck to find with the Philip Hobbs-trained favourite on Sandown running and he is second favourite at 13/8. With Altior a confirmed non-runner – likely to be out at Newbury next month in the Game Spirit, Nicky Henderson’s Janika is next in at 10/1 with BetVictor.
Storm Brendan was due to sweep across Britain and Ireland on Monday and forced the postponement of Punchestown’s card but, at the time of writing, no problems are expected for today’s cards.
Soft ground is the order of the day at Doncaster for their six-race card. In the two-and-a-half-mile maiden hurdle Craigneiche (1.35) finished well when third at Newbury in a better race than this on his first start over timber. Nicky Henderson’s six-year-old had previously won a Bumper at Market Rasen on good ground but he coped well enough with plenty of give at the Berkshire track. Meyer Lansky and Ulverston look the main dangers but Craigneiche will be a tough nut to crack.
Caribean Boy has his first start for Henderson in the Beginners’ Chase following a 632-day lay-off. His hurdles form in France earnt him a rating of 141 and it will be interesting to see if the market speaks in his favour.
Cotswold Way finished runner up at Ludlow last time but that didn’t tell the whole story as Burrows Edge – who won the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday – fell four out and brought down chasing newcomer Garrettstown (2.10) who was certainly not out of it despite having made a bad mistake six out when beginning to close. Aidan Coleman replaces Richard Johnson in the saddle, and I would be disappointed if he didn’t run a big race.
Perfect Predator (2.40) should have won over today’s C&D last month when he lost momentum going into the final hurdle and was headed inside the final furlong. The selection had raced wide throughout the contest in search of better ground – his Bumper win was gained on decent ground – and this will be the softest ground he has encountered to date.
I am convinced there is more to come from Financial Outcome over fences, but the Rebecca Curtis yard remain quiet and the two runners they had at Warwick on Saturday were disappointing. He is not one to give up on just yet and I will be keeping a close eye on the market to see if there is any stable confidence.
Stockburn is likely to be all the rage for Alan King having travelled well until his stamina gave out at Exeter over an extra three-quarters of a mile last time. This drop back in trip will suit but Ballymagroarty Boy (3.15) has had his wind operated on since finishing fifth in a decent Chepstow contest on his chase debut for Nigel Hawke and he has been dropped 4lbs for that effort. If the procedure has been a success, he wouldn’t have to improve too much to take a hand in the finish.
Soft ground at Exeter too, and with further rain forecast conditions are sure to be extremely testing. On The Road is a horse who I feel could be well handicapped at present but marginal preference in the 2m 4f handicap chase goes to Indian Brave (2.30). The selection finished runner up at Sedgefield last time when jockey Robbie Dunne picked up a three-day ban for excessive use of the whip. The selection has not got the best of course records but I think he is well treated and has improved for the application of a tongue-tie in recent starts.
Harry Fry has his string in good form and Whitehotchillifili (3.05) ran out a good winner at Wincanton last time despite jumping out to his left. The yard had two winners and a close second here at the last meeting on New Year’s Day and I would be disappointed if this mare didn’t go very close despite having to give away 7lbs to her six rivals.
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