Our racing expert likes the look of three jumpers at Uttoxeter.
The novices’ handicap chase run over an extended 2m6f looks competitive with 12 set to go to post, but Harry Fry’s JUST A STING is weighted to win it if straight enough on his return to action after 215 days off – the market will be the best guide to that.
The winner of both his bumper starts, he failed to add to his tally on four outings over hurdles last season despite going off favourite on each occasion. However, he wasn’t beaten far on his seasonal reappearance at Exeter (2m51/2f) last November and the ground had gone against him when well he finished beaten on his final start at Kempton in March.
He much prefers to race on genuine good ground, which he should get this afternoon, and the trip should be fine for him too as he has always looked a staying chaser in the making. That his shrewd handler is pitching him straight into handicap company for his chase debut is another positive in my mind as it suggests he thinks the gelding is on a good mark and, with a decent first prize up for grabs, is likely to have him straight enough to take advantage.
Mia’s Storm is the class act in the 2m7f handicap hurdle having won four of her eight outings over the smaller obstacles before being sent novice chasing and winning twice in that sphere. But she hit the deck on her final two starts of last season, and this is clearly a confidence booster before a potential return over fences later in the season. Given that she also has top weight to carry on her return after a 180-day layoff, she looks opposable at shortish odds.
RAVENSDALE is getting 12lb and while he too has an absence to overcome, he’s a progressive six-year-old who is surely capable of adding to his sole success over hurdles to date, that coming at Haydock (2m3f) last December when giving the impression he would stay further. While he was disappointing when returned to the same track later that month, it transpired that he had suffered an overreach to his left fore heel and has sensibly been given plenty of time off to recover and strengthen up.
Some market support would be encouraging given his absence but this is quite a valuable prize (near £10k to the winner) and I suspect that Nigel Twiston-Davies, who trains the gelding for Simon Munir and Isaac Souede (famous two-tone green colours), will have him ready to rock and roll. That he ran well on his first run back last season after an even longer absence provides further encouragement in that respect.
It will be interesting to see which way Ian Williams’ debutant IDILICO goes in the market for juvenile hurdle on the card as he’s potentially a decent recruit, having been bought for 46,000euros after winning on the Flat in France back in May.
A stoutly-bred sort who has joined a much respected stable, he may well be up to making a winning debut as the two form horses in the race look beatable – you can pick holes in the winning Fontwell form of Bodes Well, who is penalised, while Brandy James looked a tricky ride when a beaten odds-on favourite at Perth last month.
All odds were correct at time of posting.