Our resident tipster has found a couple of runners who could prove a class above their rivals.
Just the three meetings this afternoon and the racing is decidedly moderate, but both selections have a touch of class about them.
The Paul Nicholls-trained ALL SET TO GO was a Group performer on the flat when trained in Ireland and was good enough to finish third in the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes, a recognised Derby Trial. That turned out to be his last run on the level and much was expected of him on his hurdles debut at Kempton last October, only for him to disappoint and finish fourth of the eight runners behind the winner Stars Of The Sea.
No immediate excuse came to light and he wasn’t seen again until the Craven meeting at Newmarket. A rare runner on the flat for Paul Nicholls, he was never sighted that day but it turned out the four-year-old had a breathing problem, which according to the champion trainer (November 9 Stable Tour) has now been sorted. Nicholls also confirmed him to be going nicely at home, saying he was ‘coming together nicely’, and looks to have found a good opportunity for the gelding to get his hurdles career going.
Bumper winner One More To Go looks a big threat on his first start for Dr Richard Newland, though he was most effective over two miles on the flat and may therefore want further than the minimum over hurdles.
I twice got my fingers burned when backing WESTWARD POINT last season, but I’m prepared to give the eight-year-old another chance as he’s potentially a well-handicapped horse. A winner of a bumper on his racecourse debut for Warren Greatrex, he’s been relatively lightly-raced since and is having just his fifth start over fences this afternoon, with his sole success to date in this sphere coming in a Class 3 novices’ handicap chase at Wetherby in December 2013 off a mark of 124.
I fancied him off 5lb higher in the Grade 3 Greatwood Gold Cup at Newbury in February, only for him to pull up, and he could only finish a well beaten third when returned to that track in March, when again carrying my money. After that he was put away for the season and I thought nothing more of him until reading what his trainer had to say in a October 29 Stable Tour.
To quote: ‘He didn’t run until March last season and I put him away after a couple of races when the ground became too quick. He’s a big horse who has really matured and he’ll be aimed at handicap chases, starting starting off over 2m4f. He used to be quite headstrong, but now he’s settled down better he’ll get 3m.’
That makes me believe the eight-year-old has his best days ahead of him and this afternoon’s race – run over 2m4f on soft ground – looks a good opportunity for him to get back to winning ways, especially with his stable going great guns and boasting a 40% (4-10) strike rate at the track over the past five seasons. Stable jockey Gavin Sheehan rides and his confidence must be sky-high after a treble at Newbury on Hennessy day.
If you’re feeling greedy, the double on today’s two selections pays just over 14/1 with BetVictor at the current odds.