Our racing expert marks your card for Tuesday's jumps action at Huntingdon.
Dan Skelton’s Cause Toujours is a warm order for the opening 2m novices’ hurdle, but I’d be wary of supporting him at odds-on. Am easy winner of a Warwick bumper last December on soft ground, he was the subject of a huge gamble when bowling up next for the Champion Bumper in March, only to finish down the field in ninth.
That is forgiveable and the ground may have been a bit too fast for his liking, but he really should have done better than fourth on his hurdles debut at Uttoxeter last month. While not beaten that far, I thought he was going to hack up, so well was he travelling three out, and it was disappointing to see him flatten out like he did on the run-in.
I’m perhaps being a little harsh on him and he should have come on for the experience, but he’s up against a couple of last-time-out winners in Theclockisticking and CANYON CITY this afternoon, with the latter looking the each-way value of that pair.
A fair sort when trained by Andre Fabre on the Flat and subsequently gelded, he built on his third at Warwick in his hurdles debut when winning with a bit in hand over course and distance (good) on his next outing. The runner-up, Desiremoi D’Authie, was ‘expected’ to go in at the first time of asking for Alan King, and given the front pair finished clear of the remainder the form looks decent. In which case, a 6lb penalty might not stop him from following up here and, at worse, he can finish in the frame.
Ian Williams is one of this country’s best dual purpose trainers, if not the best, with Saunter (November Handicap) and London Prize (Elite Hurdle) the latest of his runners to advertise his talents.
Stablemate GLENGRA is most unlikely to reach the same heights as that pair, but the eight-year-old is not devoid of talent and Williams will surely place him to advantage before too long. Indeed, this afternoon’s 2m71/2f handicap chase could be his moment to shine if fit enough on his first run back after a 270-day absence, with the market being the best guide in that respect.
Should it be positive, the gelding must take all the beating off a mark of 105 and having already shown his aptitude for jumping fences when finishing second on his chase debut at Doncaster in January. While he was no match for the easy winner on that occasion, he was nicely clear of the third Baraza, who is no mug, and the 2m3f trip would have have been on the short side for him.
His jumping let him down in his final outing of last season at Fakenham, but he’s sure to have been well schooled since and today’s longer trip (and slower pace) should help him get into a good rhythm.
He has the forecast favourite Firmount Glen to beat and that horse looked unlucky not to score at Plumpton last week as he was leading when unseating his rider over the last. However, this is a better race and he can hardly be called progressive given he’s an 11-year-old with an overall record of 1-17.
Fergal O’Brien has his string firing on all cylinders, as evidenced by his 35% (7-20) strike rate in the last fortnight, and CHELTENAM DE VAIGE, his sole runner at the track, is strongly fancied to keep the good run going when he lines up in the 2m4f handicap hurdle under Paddy Brennan.
The five-year-old has a 0-11 record under Rules and is now with his third trainer, but his maiden days are numbered judging by last month’s close second on his stable debut at Plumpton over two miles. That was not unexpected as he was well backed beforehand and he so nearly rewarded his backers as he was responding well to his rider’s urgings after the last to close on the winner, with the deficit being just half a length at the line.
The handicapper has raised him 4lb for his troubles, but I very much doubt his revised mark (100) is the ceiling of his ability and I’m confident that today’s longer trip will bring about a career-best. He’s nap material.