Our racing expert marks your card for Monday's jumps action at Southwell.
Keel Haul is handicapped to win again and probably found 2m2f stretching his stamina last time, but he’s hardly been a prolific winner over fences, as is 2-20 record would suggest, and he might struggle to give stacks of weight to ULIS DE VASSY, who showed a welcome return to form when second at Sedgefield on his most recent outing. The Laura Morgan-trained ten-year-old has been raised 2lb to a mark of 89 since, but he is still really well handicapped on the best of his form, having been as high as 130 in 2016. With promising conditional Patrick Cowley (2-5 in the last fortnight, including a 14/1 winner for this stable) taking 7lb off his back, he may well be able to take advantage.
Elkstone looks best of the reminder and would have a definite chance at his best, although he’s a 21-race maiden and has now let down favourite backers five times in his last 11 starts.
Elkstone’s trainer Caroline Bailey is unlikely to leave empty-handed, though, as her RECKLESS BEHAVIOUR has strong claims in the 2m4f handicap hurdle run later on the card. The six-year-old has not been seen out since finishing well beaten at Huntingdon, but that was over 3m1f and the longer trip appeared to find him out. Previously he’d finished runner-up in another handicap run over course and distance and a reproduction of that effort would probably suffice against eight largely disappointing rivals. The stable is also in much better form now and has a cracking 23% strike rate at this track (22-97 for a £1 level-stakes profit of £50.60).
D’Arcy’s Sound has claims on his third in a Bangor novice two starts back and Venetia Williams’ charge may give the selection most to do, although he was disappointing in a handicap last time and his stable remains unusually quiet for this time of year (1-18 in the last fortnight).
All odds were correct at time of posting.