Our racing expert is sweet on the chances of a couple of Uttoxeter runners.
Olly Murphy’s SIMAFAR is by far the least exposed runner in the opening 2m handicap hurdle after just three starts and the four-year-old might have got in lightly off a mark of 100.
A fair flat performer when trained in Ireland, he could only plug into seventh of the 14 runners (beaten 41 lengths) when last seen over hurdles at Warwick in January, but that was on heavy ground and he could never get competitive after some slow jumps early on.
The ground was riding much better (officially ‘good to soft’ ) on his previous start at the same track and it’s no coincidence that he ran his best race in this sphere, finishing third of the 11 runners behind a couple of smart juveniles.
Now racing on good ground for the first time over hurdles, it’s not unreasonable to expect the gelding to better that effort and especially with cheek-pieces back on. He last wore those on the Flat and that coincided with his best run in that sphere, a keeping on fifth of the 22 runners in a Leopardstown handicap – on good ground.
The icing on the cake and the absolute clincher for a bet is the booking of Richard Johnson to ride. That’s because the champion jockey has won on both his rides for the stable in the last fortnight and can boast a healthy 24% (17-72) strike rate on the stable runners overall.
The novices’ handicap chase has drawn a big field of 14 headed by Dan Skelton’s Too Much Too Soon, who is 5lb well-in under his penalty for last week’s eased down success at Warwick. As he didn’t have a hard race, it’s no surprise to see him turned out again so quickly and he’s not opposed lightly.
This is a little more competitive, though, and conceding 19lb to PSYCHOCANDY is no easy task as Ian Williams’ mare has also been in good form of late without winning. A fairly modest hurdler (0-10 in that sphere), she has looked better since going over fences this spring and her latest third at Warwick over 3m, behind a couple of stronger stayers, was her best effort to date.
She can surely find an opening this summer and Williams’ decision to drop her back slightly in trip and apply cheek-pieces for the first time this afternoon (to go with her usual tongue-tie) might just do the trick.
I also like the fact Robert Dunne is renewing the partnership as he has a decent record (7-36, 19%) on the stable runners.
All odds were correct at time of posting.