Our man has his eye on three value shots this afternoon.
Midnight Request is unopposable in his bid to follow-up last week’s easy Exeter success in the opening handicap chase at Southwell (2.10pm), but you don’t need me to tell you that as he’s an odds-on chance.
Instead, I’ll give you one at a price in the 2m4f “hands and heels” handicap hurdle run later on the card (4.55pm), with Robin Dickin’s DANCE FOR LIVVY looking a shade overpriced at 12/1. She’s that price for a reason, mind, with her last success under any code coming in a juvenile hurdle at Hexham in June 2011. But at least she’s a winner (three times in fact) and that’s more can be said for several of her eight decidedly modest rivals.
She looks well treated too off a mark of 92, having been as high as 105, and she’ll strip fitter for a couple of recent runs on the all-weather. It’s a race that won’t take much winning and the front two in the market look opposable. Sendiym ran no sort of race at Catterick last time and is minus the headgear he was sporting when scoring at Musselburgh before that. The four-year-old Blue Talisman has perhaps the most scope for improvement but he’ll have to as he was beaten out of sight at Ffos Las when last seen out.
The closing bumper (5.25pm) is perhaps the most interesting race on the card with several potentially nice sorts locking horns. Paul Webber’s well-bred Sugar Train finished second in one of these at Doncaster last time and he’s disputing favouritism with Sir Will, who changed hands for a sizeable amount after winning a Naas bumper and is making his debut for Peter Bowen. Dan Skelton’s Age Of Discovery and Irish point winner Maximus Maridius are others to consider.
However, the one that interests me most is Robert Stephens’ representative MODULUS. The Newport-based handler has done well with his small string, sending out seven winners from just 42 runners this term, including 2-9 in this sphere, and struck with his last runner, Quebec, at Exeter last Tuesday. He also trains a half-brother to the selection in Module, who won his first two bumper starts and most recently chased home Moon Racer in the Champion Bumper at the Cheltenham Festival.
If his year older relation has just half his ability, he’ll take all the beating here and it will be interesting to see whether he attracts any market support. He’s a top-priced 9/1 at the time of writing with bet365, with Paddy Power as short as 6/1, and I’m going to have a little on now with a view to going in again if the market speaks in his favour.
The best bet at Hexham looks to be Sue Smith’s PALM GREY in the 2m4f handicap hurdle (4.10pm). It’s a tough little race with several holding chances, but the selection is one of the least exposed in the field after just five hurdle starts, and ran his best race yet when second over 2m at Newcastle last time. The form of that race looks decent as the winner Light The City has gone in again since, and given the way he was rallying on the run-in today’s extra four furlongs should be right up his street. What’s more he looks well treated on a mark of 105, with claiming rider Jonathan England taking 3lb off his back.