Evan Williams does well with his runners at the Welsh venue
Just six runners will go to post for the feature 2m handicap chase at Ludlow but none are easily discounted.
Philip Hobbs provides the likely favourite in Mountain King and he perhaps possesses the most scope for improvement after just two starts over fences. The winner of a bumper and two hurdle races, he should be up to winning in this sphere too judging on his latest second to a good sort at Huntingdon last month, although he rather spoiled his chance by running too free (as he did on his debut at Newbury) and making some novicey errors.
At the forecast odds of 13/8, he’s not for me, whereas Evan Williams’ KUDU COUNTRY looks real value at 5/1. A good novice in his younger days, winning twice and finishing third in a Grade 1 at Aintree behind Sprinter Sacre no less, he has got himself well handicapped again over fences. After a couple of creditable runs in handicap hurdles, he was well backed to take advantage at Chepstow last time and was running a blinder when capsizing at the last. He was two lengths down at the time and may have finished second but, still, he’s clearly back to somewhere near his best and, normally a safe jumper, I’m willing to give him another chance with conditions to suit. More encouragement is provided by his trainer’s healthy 21% strike rate with his chasers here since 2011.
Gabrial The Thug is chasing a four-timer in the extended mile handicap at Wolverhampton and he looks sure to go off favourite. In his current frame of mind he will take some stopping, but the handicapper may have finally got a handle on him, having nudged him up a further 5lb, and he’s taking on better rivals than he’s used to.
With just 5/2 on offer I’m tempted to take him on and the one who interests me most is Les Eyre’s DISCLOSURE, who has run well on two of his last three starts at the track. His latest fourth in a Class 5 handicap can be upgraded as he was held up in last place before keeping on well up the unfavoured inside rail to be beaten just three lengths by the winner.
Today’s Class 6 contest looks an easier opportunity for the gelding and, having been dropped 2lb since his last run, he lines up off a 1lb lower mark them when romping home at Thirsk back in August. Ideally, I’d like to see him being ridden a bit closer to the pace than in previous starts and I’m trusting his pilot David Allan in that respect, but any doubts on that score are more than compensated by his price of 7/1.