Our racing expert likes the look of three jumpers at Worcester.
Classy hurdler Leoncavallo is odds-on to make a winning chase debut after finishing an excellent third in the Galway Hurdle last month and his trainer Dr Richard Newland can do little wrong right now. However, it’s no gimme that he’ll transfer his ability to this sphere and he’s hardly bred for the job either.
I’m going to take him on with Tom Lacey’s FLASHING GLANCE, who is a decent hurdler himself and shaped well on his chase debut at Southwell last month. Apart from a mistake at the second last, he jumped well and was staying on well at the finish into third, less than two lengths behind the winner All Set To Go. On that evidence he can definitely win races over fences and won’t mind today’s extra half mile either, so I’m hopeful he can put his experience to good use here.
The only other threat is Nicky Henderson’s Cultivator, but he was beaten out of sight when last trying fences and was a faller on his most recent outing over hurdles, which leaves him with something to prove.
One favourite I’m not prepared to take on is Dan Skelton’s SOFIA’S ROCK, who is making his National Hunt debut in the closing maiden hurdle and is sure to have been well-schooled at home. A decent handicapper for Mark Johnston on the Flat, winning four times and achieving a peak rating of 100, he looks a useful recruit to hurdles and won’t lack for fitness having been action at Newmarket 23 days ago. Stamina shouldn’t be an issue either as he stayed 1m6f on the level and I’d expect Harry Skelton to give him a positive ride from the front.
At first glance I was keen to take on OUTRAGEOUS ROMANA in the 2m7f handicap hurdle as John O’Shea’s mare is up in the weights and class, having gone up a further 4lb for winning a class 4 handicap over course and distance last month. However, that was her third win from five starts this season and she’s tough as old boots too, finding plenty for her apprentice rider Edward Austin the last twice. His 7lb claim means she will carry just 9st 7lb in this contest (assuming he can sweat down to his minimum) and I’m not sure any of her five rivals can cope with giving her upwards of 17lb while she’s in her current frame of mind.
All odds were correct at time of posting.