Our racing expert marks your card for Wednesday's jumps action at Ludlow.
Evan Williams’ MONBEG OSCAR (1:25) is still a maiden after five starts, but he’s posted some solid efforts in defeat, including when chasing home Martha’s Benefit in a Sandown 2m handicap hurdle two starts back, and he patently failed to see out 2m7f back at that track last time. He’s no world-beater for sure and probably won’t be seen to best advantage until he jumps a fence, but the five-year-old is the clear form pick here and really ought to shed his maiden tag by putting today’s rivals to the sword. Comrade Conrad was a decent soft-ground stayer on the Flat and wasn’t helped by a mid-race blunder on his hurdles debut, so he could give the selection most to do.
Emma Lavelle has had a fairly quiet season so far with just 17 winners on the board, but a couple of those have come in the last four days and that’s a positive for her DARK MAHLER (1:55). The seven-year-old created a big impression when winning by 14 lengths on his chase/handicap debut at this track in November (2m, good). He won going away on that occasion, so today’s extra half mile won’t be a problem, and he’s still potentially well treated despite a subsequent 7lb rise. Indeed, I expect him to rate a good deal higher than his current 112 before the season is out given he is lightly-raced after just four starts and has bags of potential.
It is no surprise to see FLASHJACK (2:25) turned out again just ten days after running out a convincing winner on his return to hurdles at Warwick as he didn’t have to work hard and as that was a race for conditional jockeys, he is unpenalised. Indeed, Henry Daly’s eight-year-old looks thrown in here on a mark of 104 with his amateur rider claiming 7lb off his back, having gone up 10lb for future races and been rated as high as 130 at his peak. While he’s 0-6 over fences, he has now won three of his seven hurdles starts and it will take a good performance from one of today’s rivals, many of whom are out of form, to stop him going in again.
All odds were correct at time of posting.