Our racing guru is predicting trouble for the Warwick bookmakers.
Bookmakers could be in DEEP TROUBLE if the horse by that name wins the feature 2m4f handicap chase at Warwick (due off 3.45pm) as I expect him too.
Ben Case’s nine-year-old has yet to get his head in front after five starts over fences, but he’s been highly tried and he now goes handicapping off what is a potentially generous mark of 133. I’m basing that assumption on the fact he made a mockery of his 135 rating when hacking up in a 20-runner Grade B handicap hurdle at Punchestown in May 2014, which wasn’t totally unexpected after he had finished seventh (of 28) in the County Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival previously.
Connections said after that win that he’d make a nice chaser and he made a promising enough start when finishing third in a beginners’ chase at Leicester in November 2014. However, he followed that with two non-completions, both in Grade 2 company in races won by Coneygree (pulled up) and Vibrato Valtat (fell), and it wasn’t until this January that he tried his luck again over the bigger obstacles, this time finishing a highly respectable second to the Cheltenham-bound Doctor Harper (now rated 141).
On the back of that effort, he was sent off at 13/8 for a novice chase at Market Rasen five days ago and was tanking along in the lead until getting the tenth all wrong and unseating his rider. Okay, you’re probably thinking he’s not a safe conveyance for your money based on his completion rate and there have to be concerns, admittedly, but I’m convinced he remains a well handicapped horse and deserves another chance this afternoon now taking on more exposed runners at a more realistic level.
Indeed, I wouldn’t be surprised if he were to turn up in the novices’ handicap chase run on the opening day of the Festival, for which he gets a 25/1 quote from Coral – providing he wins today!
The second bet runs in 3m handicap chase run later on the card (4.15pm) and we are assured of a price as it’s a competitive heat. Bookmakers make the Anthony Honeyball-trained As De Fer a general 3/1 favourite and that’s understandable as he is bidding for a hat-trick and he absolutely hacked up over slightly further at this track on his penultimate start. However, the handicapper has hit him with a further 12lb rise and, while his rider David Noonan’s 5lb claim takes care of some of that, he is going to need a career-best effort.
Robert Walford’s UMBERTO D’OLIVATE, on the other hand, is heading in the other direction weights-wise as he has been dropped 3lb for his latest fifth over 2m4f at Wincanton. He has won over that sort of trip before but shapes like he needs further now and his current mark of 119 is a whopping 11lb lower than his last winning one. That was back in March 2014 and he was winning for the fourth time that season, after which the handicapper stepped in. But 11 runs later and after a few mediocre runs along the way, he now finds himself well handicapped again and with conditions in his favour this afternoon he could well take advantage.
The Tom Lacey-trained KELSEY is going to go off a short-priced favourite for the later 3m2f handicap (4.50pm), but if so was a bookmaker I wouldn’t be at all generous as the six-year-old dotted up at Towcester just nine days ago and is well-in here under a 7lb penalty.
Of course, there’s always a danger when backing horses turned out again quickly under such circumstances as there’s no real knowing how much their exertions have taken out of them. However, he appeared to have an easy time of it in beating 16 rivals by 12 lengths or more and that would have done his confidence the world of good. With just five runs under his belt, there may well be better to come and he looks the type who could rattle off three or wins starting today, hopefully.