Our tipster is sticking with the jumps and going north to Perth in search of winners
The new flat season is proving an absolute minefield for punters with some results bordering on unfathomable. The form will settle down soon I hope but, until then, I’m giving it a swerve and sticking to the jumps.
Besides, there’s plenty to look forward to under that code including Saturday’s bet365 Gold Cup meeting at Sandown, although the day will be tinged with sadness as it also marks the end of an era (AP’s retirement in case you’ve been living on Pluto), and then there’s next week’s Punchestown Festival – I just hope it doesn’t turn into a Willie Mullins monopoly. And nearer to home, today sees the start of the three-day Perth Festival, where Gordon Elliott can be relied upon for winners – he’s won with 36 of the last 100 runners he’s sent to the Scottish track.
The County Meath-based trainer has just a couple of runners this afternoon as his Swantykay is a non-runner in the last, and both are worth a second look. First up, his ANTILOPE DU SEUIL in the opening 2m4f maiden hurdle (2.20pm) has been put in as general second favourite behind Victor Dartnall’s Dancing Shadow and she arrives here on the back of a third-placed effort over two miles at Downpatrick last month. She looked a hard ride there, admittedly, but the step up in trip as she’s a half-sister to Taquin Du Seuil and the better ground is also in her favour given she won on “good” when trained in France. Daryl Jacob is having his first ride for the stable; let’s hope it’s a winning one.
The 3m handicap hurdle for amateur riders (4.40pm) is the toughest race of the day judging by the betting with bookmakers going 6/1 the field. Elliott’s AN CAPALL MOR is disputing favouritism and while he’s been off the track for 180 days, you can be sure he’s been primed to run a big race, having been switched to his current stable since his last run. He’d lost his way a bit since winning at Uttoxeter last September and the handicapper has kindly dropped him a few pounds as a result. Rated as high as 120 not so long ago, he lines up today off just 90, which is the same as his last winning mark, and the ground is spot on for him.
I’m saving my biggest bet of the day, though, for Tom George’s GORSKY ISLAND, who carries top weight in the 3m handicap chase (4.05pm). The seven-year-old was in good form last autumn, winning his first two starts over this trip at Ludlow (a right-handed track like Perth) and, having been narrowly denied a hat-trick when returned there in December, he was then put away to wait for better ground.
Reappearing at last month’s Cheltenham Festival, where he ran down the field in the novices’ handicap chase, he should be back to peak fitness for what has likely been his end of season target. His stable is absolutely flying right now – George’s last nine runners have finished 22131451 – and while he’s running off a career-high mark of 138, his burden is reduced by his rider Jamie Bargary’s 7lb claim. It’s an open race with six of his seven rivals holding decent claims, but he has plenty going for him and the 4/1 on offer looks fair.