Our resident tipster likes the look of a trio of runners at Southwell.
Kim Bailey has his string in excellent form and BATTLE DUST – his sole runner at Southwell, where he has a 1-3 strike rate – looks well worth an interest when he runs in the 3m novices’ hurdle (due off 1.30pm).
He’s up against the Jonjo O’Neill-trained Mustmeetalady and that horse is a worthy favourite having run well in all four of his runs this term. However, he carries a penalty for his narrow Wetherby success two starts back and the five-year-old, who is an Irish point winner of and is seen as a chaser of the future, might prove vulnerable.
The selection has also won a point in Ireland and it was a fine weight carrying performance too as he had 12st 2lb on his back over a trip of three miles on soft to heavy ground. His rider on that occasion, Derek O’Connor, was very complimentary concerning his future ability after getting off and he has been pleasing his new trainer on the schooling grounds, with Bailey saying in a recent Stable Tour that he “liked him a lot”.
I’m a big fan of trainer Ben Pauling and even more after backing (and tipping up) last week’s Cheltenham winner A Hare Breath at 16/1 – he landed a gamble into 6/1. He has genuine double prospects this afternoon with a couple of horses sent to him by Paul and Clare Rooney after a fallout with Donald McCain, starting off with PITHIVIER in the 2m4f handicap hurdle (2.35pm).
The five-year-old has already shown plenty of ability in three bumper starts, including when finishing runner-up at Hexham on the third of those, and he ran a cracker on his hurdles debut when finishing second again behind a good horse of John Ferguson’s, Commissioned. He was a shade disappointing when only fourth at Exeter (2m1f) on his next start, but he didn’t help his cause by hanging badly left on that right-handed track and also gave the impression he needed a stiffer test.
Today’s trip should therefore see him in a much better light and he’s making his handicap debut off what looks to be a potentially generous initial mark of 110. With the stable going great guns and with Nico de Boinville booked – he’s 20% strike rate on the stable runners overall – a big run is anticipated.
Pauling also inherited WILLOUGHBY COURT and that horse looks well up to winning the closing bumper (3.35pm). The four-year-old has already run in one of these and it was a highly promising effort too as he was beaten just a half-length into third at Ffos Las behind the promising winner Premier Bond and Ten Sixty, who is considered one of Philip Hobbs’ better novice hurdle prospects for this season. The selection, who is related to Eider winner Nil Desperandum and changed hands for £48,000 as a three-year-old, can make his experience tell against today’s rivals.
Southwell 1.30, Battle Dust @ 6/1 Betfair
Southwell 2.35, Pithivier @ 5/2 Betfair
Southwell 3.35, Willoughby Court @ 5/2 Betfair