Our racing guru is hopeful of taking some money off the bookmakers with this trio of runners.
A field of 12 have been declared for this afternoon’s 2m handicap chase at Ayr (due off 4.05pm) and it’s safe to say the majority have questions to answer.
Willie Hall has been in good form of late, winning back-to-back races here in January, but the 12-year-old looked in the grip of the handicapper when failing to land the hat-trick at Newcastle last time. He is still respected of course and so is Irish raider Finea, who needed all of Jack Kennedy’s strength in the saddle when getting home at Down Royal earlier this month and is now 7lb higher in the weights. Bottom weight Clan Chief is another to consider, though he’s failed to complete in two chase starts.
But this looks a decent opportunity for Martin Todhunter’s BONZO BING to break his duck over fences at the eighth attempt. He has generally struggled since coming over from Ireland, where he won twice, but has come down the weights as a result and ran his best race yet when second behind a gambled on winner over 2m4f at Newcastle last time, off the same mark as today’s. A repeat of that effort would see him go very close and the drop back in trip might help him too as both his hurdle wins came over two miles.
Nicky Richards continues to place his horses well and that is shown by his current strike rate of around 23%. BERNARDELLI, his sole runner this afternoon in Ayr’s 2m4f handicap chase, has been a real test of his patience / training skills as the eight-year-old is no world beater and is perhaps not the most natural of jumpers, failing to get round three times in seven chase starts.
However, he can be forgiven the latest of those as it came in a Class 2 at Ascot – he was tailed off when deciding he’d had enough and running out – and this is more his level. Prior to that he’d looked quietly progressive in three runs following a year off, building on his second at Bangor in November when going one better over this trip at Newcastle the following month and jumping far more fluently than has been the case. That all bodes well for his chances of adding to his two chase wins this afternoon in first-time blinkers, which should help him concentrate on the job at hand.
County Antrim-based Stuart Crawford frequently sends horses over the Irish Sea to meetings here and 12 winners from 85 runners (14%) since the start of the 2012-13 season is not a bad return. Four of those winners have come in bumper races (4-17, 24%) and today’s such contest (5.10pm) could well go the way of his UNDISPUTED. She was far from disgraced when finishing midfield in a Listed bumper at Navan on her racecourse debut back in November and she’ll know more of what’s required with that experience under her belt. Today’s assignment looks far easier and she can send favourite backers home happy.