Our racing expert has three horses to back at Hereford.
Ben Pauling has been amongst the winners of late (5-20 in the last fortnight) and STAGE SUMMIT, his only runner at Hereford, in the 2m5f novices’ limited handicap chase, could add to his tally.
The five-year-old started out between the flags in Ireland before winning a Limerick bumper in the summer of 2017 and changing hands for £30,000. His new connections have yet to see a significant return from their investment, although it’s still early days for the five-year-old and going over fences could be the making of him.
That his best run over hurdles last season, a two lengths second behind Court Liability, came at this track provides further encouragement and a mark of 118 shouldn’t be beyond him, considering that the winner is 3-3 under Rules and has been given a rating of 127.
The selection seemingly flopped on his handicap debut over hurdles at Huntingdon in May, when finishing tenth of the 15 runners, but a juddering error down the back effectively ended his chances and the run is best forgotten. He’s sure to have been well schooled at home since.
A 6lb penalty is unlikely to stop Oliver Sherwood’s WHAT’S OCCURRING in the 2m novices’ hurdle having won in gutsy fashion over course and distance 20 days ago, despite having to do the donkey work. That run, his first for 252 days, will have sharpened him up considerably, and what was really to like about the performance was his quick and accurate hurdling.
That’s going to stand him in good stead here and it wouldn’t surprise if Leighton Aspell again made all on him, especially as main market rival Valseur Du Granval might need his first run back after a layoff.
The 2m handicap chase is mainly contested by older, more exposed types, so it looks a good opportunity for Ben Case’s five-year-old WISECRACKER to lose his maiden tag under Rules.
A Doncaster third (of 12) back in January had been his best effort to date and he was beaten out of sight on his chase debut at Plumpton in September. But they tried different tactics at Wincanton last time, when streaking off in front and then making the eventual winner work hard to get on top, and those same tactics off the same mark could pay off this afternoon.
All odds were correct at time of posting.