Our racing expert likes four runners north of the border at Perth.
So much for the new flat season, we’ve got four jumps meetings this afternoon and it’s fairly competitive stuff, especially up at Perth.
The day’s feature 2m4f handicap chase (4.00pm) has attracted a field of 10 and while Willie Mullins’ Tennis Cap is likely to go off favourite, he doesn’t look particularly well treated. I’d much rather take a chance on the fitness of Mick Easterby’s SHADOWS LENGTHEN, a smart chaser on his day who has won five of his 18 starts and is well handicapped on a mark just 1lb higher than his last winning one.
The ten-year-old hasn’t been seen out since October but he’s likely had this valuable prize on his agenda for a good while and his veteran trainer could not be in better form, sending out eight winners and umpteen places from his North Yorkshire base in the past fortnight. Most have come on the flat, admittedly, but the stable has done well with the few jumpers that have run at this track.
Elsewhere on the card, Philip Hobbs and Richard Johnson can team up for a double. The Minehead trainer runs BRAAVOS in the 2m4f handicap hurdle (3.00pm) and the five-year-old looks nicely treated on a mark of 119 with further improvement expected now he encounters good ground for the first time over hurdles. A bumper winner on that surface, he has been running well on soft ground over the winter, including when winning at Exeter in January (heavy), but as a son of Presenting he ought to relish today’s surface and is reunited with the champion jockey-elect.
INK MASTER can be another for the Hobbs/Johnson partnership in the 2m novices’ Limited handicap chase (3.30pm). He too is partly selected on account of the ground with his sole win to date coming on ‘good’ at Worcester last October. He has been running respectably since, the last three times over fences, and showed his appreciation for better ground when finishing a close third at Kempton last time. Surprisingly the handicapper has dropped him a couple of pounds for that effort and he can take advantage under similar conditions.
The Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained BRING BACK CHARLIE looks a worthy favourite in the 2m handicap hurdle run earlier on the card (2.30pm). He faces 17 rivals but none were in the first three last time – bar Hopefull, who has a 412-day absence to overcome – whereas the selection ran a career-best second at Chepstow last month, when splitting a couple of horses rated in the 90s. Off a mark of 83 and with Jamie Bargary taking 5lb off, he must take plenty of beating for a stable who has a 1-5 strike rate here and struck with Frontier Vic on Wednesday.