Our racing expert is sweet on the chances of a couple of jumpers at Southwell.
With nothing jumping off the page on the Flat, I’m turning to the jumps card at Southwell for today’s betting fix. But like the action on the level, which is a sea of class 5s or worse, it’s modest stuff and I wouldn’t advise going overboard on anything.
At least the opening class 4 handicap chase over 3m is competitive and we should get a decent price on my idea of the winner, the Dai Burchell-trained BUTLERGROVE KING. His chase record of 3-15 is certainly better than most of these and he’s now back on a winning mark (99), having been dropped a further 4lb since finishing fourth at Newton Abbott last month. He was well supported on that occasion under suitable conditions and while he couldn’t sustain his challenge over the last two fences, it was probably down to lack of fitness given he’d been off for 14 months. Having been in good form prior to his break, including a victory at Ffos Las off just a 3lb lower mark, he should be ready to resume where he left off under regular pilot Robert Dunne.
Of his rivals, the front-running Master Sunrise is 4lb higher than when winning a lower grade contest here two starts back and will have competition for the lead, so a bigger threat to the selection looks to be Mr Mafia, who is reverting to fences on a fair mark after rattling off a four-timer over hurdles.
The class 5 handicap hurdle has attracted a decent field of 12 and with solid recent form thin on the ground, it could be worth giving a chance to the lightly-raced FIGEAC, who was last seen in action on the Flat just four days ago. That would have served as a nice pipeopener for this assignment as he’d been off since May, when finishing a respectable fourth (of 13) in a class 4 handicap hurdle at Huntingdon (2m). That was definitely one of his better efforts since his days in France, where he was a triple winner on the Flat, and the way he was staying on in first-time blinkers (back on today) suggests he might be able to progress again on his first try over this longer trip.
Most of his rivals have little to recommend them but Field Exhibition was a chase winner in July and while he’s yet to be placed over hurdles in 13 tries, he still rates as the main danger with Richard Johnson (third on him last time) renewing the partnership.
All odds were correct at time of posting.