Our racing expert likes the look of a couple of chasers at Perth.
There’s some competitive jumps action at Perth this afternoon and the feature class 2 handicap chase is a cracker with the 159-rated Hammersly Lake topping the weights. He should go well, although he’s 10lb higher than when winning here last September and was soundly beaten by Imperial Presence when last seen out at Uttoxeter in July. The re-opposing winner was completing a hat-trick on that occasion and having finally matured this summer, he’s going to take plenty of stopping despite a further 8lb rise.
But the most intriguing runner is CHARBEL and he might be able to make his class tell against these. Kim Bailey’s charge hasn’t been seen out since falling at the sixth in the Queen Mother in March, having finished a respectable fourth in the Grade 1 Tingle Creek previously, but he’s capable of high-class form on his day and has gone well fresh in the past. Indeed, three of his wins have come after breaks of 51 days (twice successful after six months off) and it might have been four had he not fallen two out in Altior’s Arkle, so well was he travelling at the time.
Still only seven, he’s surely got a few more wins in him and the step to 2m4f might be what he wants these days as the slower pace will allow him more time to get into a rhythm over his fences. Bailey has always been of the opinion that he wants further than 2m and was considering the JLT during his novice season, so this longer trip may well be the making of him over fences.
Charbel’s stablemate NET WORK ROUGE could be the answer to the 3m handicap chase, having finished a clear second on his first run back after wind surgery at Bangor last month. That was following on from a couple of pulled up efforts, so the operation has clearly done the trick, and he’s undoubtedly weighted to add to his five chase wins. Having been rated in the 130s as a novice, he’s back down to 122 and he should be capable of at least matching previous heights now that he can breathe properly. Over what is his best trip and with today’s good ground ideal as he doesn’t want it too testing, he should give us a good run for our money.
Of his rivals, Mighty Leader and Brian Boranha look weighted up to their best and I’d be more concerned about the Gordon Elliott-trained pair of Swingbridge and King’s Song, with Richard Johnson preferring the former. But the biggest danger to the selection may come from Cooking Fat, who had a subsequent winner back in third when successful over the course and distance in July off a 7lb lower mark.
All odds were correct at time of posting.