Our racing expert marks your card for Thursday's action
The rearranged Peterborough Chase should be a cakewalk for TOP NOTCH, with stablemate Josses Hill fancied to get the better of Ptit Zig for second, but at odds of just 4/9 we can let Nick Henderson’s improving six-year-old win.
As regards a bet, the handicaps are much more enticing and while he’s been put in as favourite for the 3m limited handicap chase for novices, the Colin Tizzard-trained CUCKLINGTON will be carrying my cash. Bought for a lot of money as a big, backward three-year-old, he has taken plenty of time to grow into his frame and, now aged six, he is starting to fulfil his true potential.
A pair of blinkers have made a positive difference too as he’s unbeaten in two starts since the headgear was fitted and he jumped soundly in front when shrugging off a 5lb rise for his Plumpton win at Wincanton last time (3m1f, soft). He has a further 7lb rise to contend with here, but he’s clearly thriving, stays well and handles all types of going.
He is reportedly heading back to Plumpton for the Sussex National on January 7th and I fancy he can land this decent prize en route.
Ex-jockey Christian Williams is making a name for himself as a trainer, sending out five winners from his small South Wales-based stable during the current season, and he’s had a 9/2 winner and a 14/1 second already this month. That all bodes well for his runners in the 2m3f handicap hurdle and THE WELSH PADDIES, who is much preferred to stablemate Caviar D’Allen, looks the one to be on here.
The five-year-old had the reopposing Molineaux eight lengths behind in third when beating a subsequent winner in a Warwick maiden hurdle last time (2m5f, good), having finished second in a similar race that has been working out well at Uttoxeter on his reappearance. While his winning margin was only a length, he wasn’t done any favours when hampered by the fall of the favourite three out and having moved readily enough to the lead, he always looked like doing enough from the last.
The handicapper hasn’t judged him too harshly based on that effort and his opening handicap mark of 125 seems very fair, especially as the Warwick second is now rated 127. Furthermore, there should be plenty more to come from the lightly-raced four-year-old and he certainly won’t lack for any assistance from the saddle with Richard Johnson (2-6 on the stable runners) booked.
All odds were correct at time of posting.