Our resident tipster - fresh from four Cheltenham winners on Saturday - likes a trio of runners at Southwell this afternoon.
Harry Whittington is a trainer very much on the up and PINK PLAY, his sole runner at Southwell this afternoon, looks something to bet on when she runs in the 2m mares’ maiden hurdle (due off 2.55pm).
A superbly bred daughter of King’s Theatre and a half-sister to smart handicappers Dance Floor King and One For Harry, she wouldn’t be winning out of turn as she’s finished runner-up on both her starts this season. She was beaten less than a length by Girly Girl (winner again since) in a Worcester bumper in October, before finding only hot favourite Robins Reef four lengths too good on her hurdles debut at Ludlow last time, where she had some good sorts in behind. That form alone entitles her to plenty of respect and I’ll be amazed if she doesn’t have further improvement in her.
What’s more, she’s up against rivals who are opposable for one reason or another, whilst helping to make the market for the selection. Via Volupta, three times a runner-up over hurdles and representing the in-form Warren Greatrex, would prefer a sounder surface, while Oliver Sherwood’s What A Scorcher has a long absence to overcome. Harry Fry’s Secret Door is sure to be popular given the stable form and having finished third in a bumper last month. However, her trainer said in a recent Stable Tour that she would want further than this over hurdles.
UPDATE – Via Volupta has been declared a non-runner and that has caused the selection Pink Play to shorten into a best-priced 6/4 with Coral.
Dan Skelton’s Robin Of Locksley should attract plenty of support in the 2m4f maiden hurdle run earlier on the card (1.20pm) after showing progressive form over hurdles and with his stable flying, but I’m keen to take him on. The reason being he might find today’s trip around this relatively sharp track an insufficient test of stamina, with his trainer saying in a Stable Tour that he’d probably want 3m because he’s a “big, strong scopey type of horse”.
He might be worth laying as he’s up against a couple of decent sorts here in the shape of the Warren Greatrex-trained Penn Lane, who is making his hurdles debut after winning a Uttoxeter bumper on his reappearance last month, and Kim Bailey’s POLICY BREACH, who just gets the vote. The latter changed hands for 140,000 Euros after finishing second in a big-field bumper at Punchestown in April and it was inexperience that caused him to hang left and run out before jumping the last on his hurdles debut at Ludlow last month. He’s sure to have been well schooled since and this superbly bred sort is worth another chance with his stable amongst the winners.
UPDATE – Kim Baily seems quite keen on Policy Breach in his blog saying he will “go close”, yet he’s proving easy to back – out to 4/1 with Coral. The horse for money has been Warren Greatrex’s Penn Lane (into 7/4) who was certainly considered, but I’m going to stick to my guns.
One horse who need backing now is the Alex Hales-trained SALUT HONORE, who has been priced up as big as 9/1 for the 3m1f handicap chase (12.50pm). He’s no world-beater for sure but is well handicapped on a mark 3lb lower than his last winning one and ran a perfectly respectable third at Towcester last month, his first run back after a 603-day layoff. He’s sure to come on a bundle for that run and his stable has been in cracking form of late with three winners from just seven runners in the last fortnight.