Our racing expert marks your card for Monday's jumps action at Carlisle.
SWING HARD looks the one to beat in 2m4f handicap chase and is given the nap selection. The Sue Smith-trained ten-year-old appeared to find Musselburgh’s 2m4f on the sharp side when third there last time, albeit he was still less than three lengths behind the winner, and the return to this stiffer track should see him in a much better light. Indeed, this race might have been the plan for him all along as he is 2-3 over course and distance, including the 2016 renewal of this contest off just 4lb lower, while his yard have won four of the last six runnings. Danny Cook, who has won three times on him already, gets the leg up.
He faces no easy task, mind, with three last-time-out winners up against him, the best of whom may be bottom weight Oak Vintage. But that helps his price of course and he’s a shade of value at the current 5/1.
Lucinda Russell’s NEWTOWN LAD could be the answer to the feature 3m1/2f handicap chase if building on his recent close up second in the North Yorkshire Grand National at Newcastle, where he was up with the pace throughout and only gave best after the last. That was a big improvement on his reappearance effort at Bangor, where he was pulled up after racing far too freely early and running out of steam, and the eight-year-old now looks ready to exploit a workable mark. I would expect Derek Fox to make plenty of use of him as that is how he likes to race and the softer the ground the better for him.
It’s a competitive contest, as you’d expect for the prize money, and bookmakers prefer the chances of Chidswell, who might have won at Kelso last time but for a mistake at the last, and Bako De La Saulaie, who was only headed close home at Doncaster last time. The latter has gone up 6lb for that, though, and I reckon the selection can have his measure.
Devon-based Nigel Hawke has fared well at this track over the last five seasons with eight of his 22 runners (36%) obliging for a level-stakes profit of £7.13, so all three of his representatives this afternoon are worthy of consideration.
His TAKE A BREAK contests an open-looking 2m1f handicap hurdle and there are grounds for thinking the seven-year old can put behind him some lacklustre recent efforts and reward each-way backers at a double-digit price. He had a ready excuse when only fifth at Taunton last time as he patently found 3m stretching his stamina and he is now reunited with Sean Bowen, who rode him to victory at Hexham in September on ground similar to today’s. Connections are also refitting a tongue-tie, which he wore on most of his starts two seasons back, in order to help him breathe better.
His stablemate LORD BAILIM has struggled since winning at Perth last April, but he’s been running in some competitive handicap chases and this afternoon’s 2m3f handicap hurdle is a far more realistic assignment. Indeed, he should be in his element back at what is his favourite track with his four outings yielding three wins, including once over track and trip, and a third place finish. According to connections, he’s a headstrong sort who settles far better here than anywhere else and connections are leaving nothing to chance in that respect by applying a first-time hood.
The negatives are that he’s never won off this sort of mark over hurdles and is taking on some in-form rivals, headed by Sue Smith’s Blottos, who has won two of his last three starts and is making his handicap debut here. However, I was surprised to see the selection priced up as big as 14/1 and he surely has a better chance than that.
Hawke also has Point N Shoot running for him in the 3m1f handicap hurdle and while he’s harder to fancy, he might be able to outrun his Paddy Power price tag of 14/1 price tag and reach the frame.
Carlisle 2.30, Take A Break each-way @ 16/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2.3)
Carlisle 3.00, Swing Hard (nap) @ 5/1 Betfair
Carlisle 3.35, Lord Bailim each-way @ 14/1 bet365 (1/4 odds, 1.2)
Carlisle 4.40, Newtown Lad @ 11/2 Paddy Power
All odds were correct at time of posting.