Our racing expert has four jumpers to back this afternoon.
We’re still a few weeks away from when the better jumpers start reappearing – that first Chepstow meeting later this month can’t come soon enough – but this afternoon’s double-header from Huntingdon and Warwick is competitive enough.
At the former track, the virtually unstoppable Dr Richard Newland could again be amongst the winners. The Worcestershire-based trainer already has 30 winners on the board this season at a strike rate of 36 per cent and his NORDICAN BLEUE is a short price to add to that tally in the juvenile hurdle.
A dual Flat winner in France, she has finished second on both her outings over hurdles and looked the likeliest winner for much of the way at Fontwell last time only to be worn down near the line.
On that evidence, she can definitely win one of these and her trainer’s decision to fit her with a hood looks a smart move as she pulls quite hard and failed to drop the bit last time. In Sam Twiston-Davies she will also have plenty of assistance from the saddle.
Her stablemate MCGROARTY could go close to bringing up a double for the yard in the 2m novices’ limited handicap chase now that he tackles fences for the first time under Rules, having not shown his hurdles much respect when reappearing after a break at Fontwell last month, finishing well beaten.
The cheekpieces he wore for the first time on that occasion are discarded with and whether they made a difference or not, he should do much better in this sphere as a former point-to-point winner when trained in Ireland.
He’s certainly with the right trainer to fulfil his potential (and find him a race or two) and a mark of 120, his lowest to date, shouldn’t be beyond him either. He will have the services of Sean Bowen, who is 3-12 on the stable runners.
Over at Warwick, it could be worth taking a chance on the fitness of Tim Vaughan’s CANTON PRINCE in the 2m5f handicap hurdle as he has gone well fresh previously and both his wins have come on good ground (which is forecast) under Richard Johnson, who gets the leg up.
He ran well on both his starts over slightly shorter last season, giving the impression he would benefit from a stiffer test, and he ought to be up to defying his current mark (127).
With his stable amongst the winners of late, including one at 25/1, I fancy he can give weight and a beating to his inferior rivals.
The 2m4f handicap chase is worth a shade under £10k to the winner and that wouldn’t have been lost on Charlie Longsdon, who will be keen to pick up a good prize with good-ground performer DANDRIDGE before conditions turn too testing.
The nine-year-old is making his stable debut having left Arthur Moore, who trained him to win three times over fences and also pick up some decent place money in two-mile handicap chases at the bigger meetings. Indeed, he managed to finish fourth (of 24) in the Grand Annual at the 2017 Cheltenham Festival.
He hasn’t troubled the judge since then but the handicapper has taken that into account, dropping him to a mark of 133 from a peak of 143, and this is second run back from wind surgery, which is often when horses start to reap the benefit.
Today’s trip is further than he’s used to running over but there is a 2m4f victory if you go far enough back on his CV and he might be happier over this far now he’s a bit older.
All odds were correct at time of posting.