Our racing tipster is concentrating on four good ground horses.
The ground is firming up and it could therefore pay to concentrate on those jumpers who have been waiting for a better surface and are proven on it,
The Warren Greatrex-trained HORSTED VALLEY is a good case in point. He won twice on quicker ground last spring – handicaps at Exeter and Fontwell – and ran his best race for a while when second of 16 on ‘good to soft’ at Doncaster last time. The handicapper has left him on the same mark and his trainer, who has had a couple of winners this week, looks to have found him a good opportunity in this afternoon’s 2m7f handicap hurdle at Chepstow (3.15pm), where the ground is riding ‘good’. Gavin Sheehan takes over from a claimer and the partnership look a fair price around the 5/1 mark, with likely favourite Set In My Ways unproven over this far.
David Pipe’s CLOSER TO HOME showed his appreciation for good ground when winning at Exeter on Tuesday, having struggled in novice hurdles previously, and he should prove hard to beat in the 2m3f handicap hurdle run earlier on the Chepstow card (2.40pm). A fair dual flat winner in France, he could be in for a profitable spring now he has got his act together and today’s slightly longer trip is in his his favour as he plugging on well at the finish at the Devon venue. The 7lb penalty he carries is mostly taken care of by his rider Michael Heard’s claim.
The ground is also riding ‘good’ at Ludlow and that should suit the Neil King-trained UNBUCKLED in the 2m handicap hurdle for mares (3.40pm). A three-time winner (two bumpers and a maiden), she would have found the ground softer than ideal when finishing third at Doncaster in January and as a daughter of Presenting, whose progeny seem to relish better ground, she will be far more at home on today’s surface. This is her first venture into handicap company and the assessor looks to have kind by giving her an initial mark of 110. With her stable in form, I reckon she’s got a right chance.
I’m staying at Ludlow for the day’s final bet, the Stuart Edmonds-trained CLOONACOOL who contests the feature 2m handicap chase (4.15pm). The seven-year-old won on heavy ground over and track on his penultimate start, but he’s got winning form on good ground too and is probably a better horse on that sort of surface. Far from disgraced when third in Grade 2 company on his latest start at Kempton (good to soft), he is going to appreciate dropping back into handicap company this afternoon and, lightly-raced raced over fences fences after just three starts, he is probably capable of rating higher than his current mark of 139. Connections are thinking of going to Punchestown with him but this looks a nice prize to pick up along the way.