Our racing expert has three fancies at Southwell this evening.
It’s the jumpers at Southwell this evening that are grabbing my attention most and three runners in particular are crying out to be backed.
I’ll start with the shortest-priced selection, the Oliver Sherwood-trained TOVIERE, who runs in the “national hunt” maiden hurdle over 2m4f (due off 6.30pm). The reason for his inclusion here is fairly obvious as he’s a lightly-raced five-year-old who followed up a couple of placed efforts in bumpers with a cracking second (of 14) at Warwick (2m3f) on his hurdles debut earlier this month. The winner Marquis Of Carabas is well regarded and he had a couple of decent sorts back in third and fourth, so the form has a solid look.
Today’s extra furlong won’t go amiss either given how well he was keeping on at the finish on that occasion and he should strip fitter too as he’d been off the track for around six months previously. Furthermore, his stable is in good form with a winner and a third at Fakenham yesterday, while his trainer is a rare visitor to this track with his only previous runner in the last five seasons winning. The presence of Nicky Henderson’s Phobiaphiliac, who is respected, means we get to back him at 11/4.
The other two selections are a little more speculative and with the Caroline Bailey-trained BEING GLOBAL, who runs in the 2m4f handicap hurdle (8.05pm), we are taking on last week’s easy Worcester winner Carrigkerry, who is running under a 7lb penalty and has been chalked up as 3/1 favourite. However, he beat a bad bunch last time and while this race isn’t that much better, he’s opposable at the odds under his amateur rider. Besides, the selection has solid form claims himself on his two most recent starts, including a win over 2m at this track on his penultimate outing off just 5lb lower, and he shaped as though he would appreciate this longer trip when second at Market Rasen last time. Still only five, he may well be still improving.
His stable record is the real clincher for a bet, though. In the last five seasons, Bailey has sent out 18 winners from 68 runners (26%) at this track and if you had backed them all you’d be showing a profit of over £60 (£1 level-stakes). She’s been in good form of late too with two of her five runners in the last fortnight winning – achieving finishing positions of 13515 – and today’s pilot Tom Scudamore was on the latest of those, with his strike rate here standing at a very respectable 23%.
The opening 2m handicap chase (5.25pm) looks wide open and I’m going to take a flyer on one at big odds (well, that was the idea). The Alexandra Dunn-trained SPRING STEEL has some shocking form figures to his name, being pulled up on his last three starts, and he’s not been seen out since December 2015. However, he’s making his stable debut here and his handicap mark has capitulated to just 93, having been as high as 110. And it’s not like he has no form to recommend him either. Indeed, he finished second to Tea For Two on his bumper debut and, more relevant to today’s test, he was beaten just under four lengths when second on his novice chase debut at this very track.
Clearly, I’m not the only one to have cottoned on to his chances as the seven-year-old has been well backed since I began writing this piece – now a best-priced 5/1 having been 12/1 when I first looked. I’ve missed the boat in terms of price (damn!) but I’m still going to put him up as 5/1 winners don’t grow on trees and, you never know, he might even drift a little once the bookies have stopped running around like headless chickens!