Our racing expert marks your card for Wednesday's action, with a couple of Newbury runners catching the eye.
I had DADSINTROUBLE down in my notebook as a chaser to follow at the start of the season and while he got no further than the sixth on his chase debut at Worcester in September, he’s certainly not one to give up on just yet.
His trainer Tim Vaughan is sure to have got plenty of schooling into him since and a more polished display can be expected when he runs in this afternoon’s 2m7f handicap chase, which he just scrapes into off top weight as his current mark of 137 is the race ceiling.
That he is giving weight away to some potentially useful chasers in the making will put some punters off and I see he’s the outsider of the lot with some firms, with 15/2 available in places. However, he was much the better of these over hurdles last season, winning back-to-back Haydock races at around this trip in January and February, before running a respectable ninth in the Martin Pipe at the Cheltenham Festival and signing off with a fine third (of 22) in a Grade 3 at Aintree in April.
His pedigree suggests he can do even better over fences this term and having shown that deep winter ground holds no terrors for him, he looks good value to see off six rivals who are headed by the Nicky Henderson-trained pair of Cosmos Des Obeaux and Baden. They are respected of course and the former is generally favourite, although he’s been off since February and also has his stamina to prove over what is a very new trip for him on his chasing debut.
The mares’ novices’ chase over 2m7f has also attracted seven runners and while all of the septet have something to recommend them, it’s the Kerry Lee-trained HAPPY DIVA who will be carrying my cash.
She was an admirably consistent sort over hurdles and while she only won twice – back-to-back races at around this time last year – she ran some cracking races in defeat, including when chasing home the smart Colin’s Sister in a Grade 2 at Sandown.
But on the evidence of her two outings over fences this season, she’s going to be an even better chaser. She started off by running third behind the highly-rated Jonniesofa over an inadequate 2m at Carlisle in October and then looked much the most likely winner at Uttoxeter, having jumped so well and in a good rhythm for a long way, only to get outstayed on the run-in by a nice mare of Kim Bailey’s.
She had the re-opposing Ms Pafois well behind in third on the latter occasion and that horse has since franked the form by winning at Cheltenham, while she also holds another of today’s fancied runners, Two Swallows, having hammered that mare over hurdles last season when conceding plenty of weight. I fancy she can again take care of that pair, who are preferred in the betting and ensure she’s a very backable 5/1 to land this valuable prize.
All odds were correct at time of posting.