Our racing expert is hopeful this trio of runners can get the week off on a winning note.
We’re back to more modest fare this afternoon after last week’s excitement, but it’s at least competitive stuff in the main and a trio of runners stand out as potential earners.
First up is Kim Bailey’s MONKHOUSE in the “national hunt” novices’ hurdle at Southwell over an extended 2m4f (due off 3.20pm).The trainer’s runners are always worth a second look at the Midlands venue, where he has a 1-3 (12/40) strike rate for a level-stakes profit of £28.73, and this fellow has other things to recommend him.
A bumper winner at Bangor last April (good ground), he ran an eye-catching third (of 16) on his hurdles debut at Ludlow in December and the form looks strong with the winner Le Prezien winning twice more subsequently, including a Grade 2 at Kelso earlier this month.
The selection hasn’t been since but connections have likely been waiting for better ground – they are calling it ‘good to soft’ – and he looks to have more potential than any of his nine rivals. Just for good measure, Tom Bellamy is taking a handy 3lb off his back.
The 2m4f handicap run later on the card (4.20pm) looks trickier to solve but it’s not hard to see the Fergal O’Brien-trained CAHILL stepping up considerably on what he’s shown in three starts over hurdles now he goes handicapping off what looks potentially a generous mark and over a more suitable trip.
The now four-year-old twice finished a well beaten third in 2m juvenile hurdles last October, when looking a little one-paced, but he’s thrived since on the all-weather, including when winning a Wolverhampton handicap by 19 lengths no less.
His more recent fourth in a class 4 at Kempton was arguably an even better effort and he was last seen running in a conditions race at St Moritz on snow. Clearly all surfaces come alike to him and this looks a decent opportunity to get off the mark on turf with Paddy Brennan booked.
Over at Taunton, it could be worth giving the Paul Nicholls-trained PRESENT MAN another chance in the closing 3m handicap hurdle (4.40pm) after a disappointing effort on his handicap debut last time. Sent off 2/1 favourite on the back of a couple of solid runner-up efforts in novices, he could only finish sixth of the 16 runners, having travelled well for much of the race and then looking short of pace off the bridle.
In truth, he is probably a tricky customer and is not one to have your mortgage on. However, the combination of first-time cheek-pieces (to go with a tongue-tie), today’s longer trip and good ground – he’s a son of Presenting and should therefore appreciate a better surface – could be just what he needs to get his head in front in what is a very winnable race.
All odds were correct at time of posting.