Our racing expert marks your card for Thursday's action.
Henry Oliver has his string in good nick and the Worcestershire-based trainer can strike with DOC CARVER in the 2m handicap hurdle. The winning pointer has run close-up seconds the last twice and the horse that beat him half a length in a Bangor novice last time, Fin And Cool, has since been given a rating of 129. That suggests the selection is well treated on a mark of 121 for his handicap debut and there is surely a little more improvement to come from the lightly-raced seven-year-old. Of his rivals, Shanroe Saint could have done without a 3lb rise for finishing third on his second handicap start at Leicester but he still looks clear second best.
The market for the 2m handicap chase is dominated by NORSE LIGHT and Pembroke House with the in-form pair sharing favouritism. As the latter is hard to win with (1-22 as a chaser), the former horse is much preferred and especially as he is now dropping in class having been just caught out in a tactically run match at Fakenham last time out. That was continuing a good run of form which has seen him win twice in four starts, including a handicap chase over 2m4f at Huntingdon in December, and that ability to stay further is going to stand him in good stead on today’s heavy going.
Dan Skelton’s Cafe Au Lait looks like the one they all have to beat in the closing 2m3f handicap hurdle having finished runner-up the last twice, and it’s no surprise to see him chalked up as favourite at around the 3/1 mark. However, I’m hardly rushing to back him at those odds given he’s let down favourite backers on the six occasions he has raced since winning at Wetherby last February, which came off a 14lb lower mark than today’s.
Instead, I’m going to suggest a small interest on Sheila Lewis’ WAY OF THE WORLD at a double-digit price. The seven-year-old hardly screams ‘likely winner’ on his form figures (PF050 this season), but he has collapsed in the weights as a result – his latest mark is 7lb lower than his last winning one – and he did hint at a revival when not beaten far into fifth two starts back. Proven on the prevailing ground, back over his best trip (he didn’t stay 3m last time) and with connections reaching for first-time cheek-pieces, he can certainly run better than his 10/1 price tag might suggest.
All odds were correct at time of posting.