Our racing expert marks your card for Friday's action.
Ascot stages a quality card this afternoon but I’m going to concentrate on my local track Uttoxeter, where the following catch the eye.
The opening class 5 handicap hurdle is not a race to go overboard on by any means, but GEORGIESHORE has to be worth a small interest given the red-hot form of his stable. Zoe Davison trains a small string in East Sussex and she’s doing something right this season as she has sent out six winners from just 19 runners (32%). Indeed, her last two runners have both won and a few others in the past fortnight have performed creditably, including the selection.
His winning record is not great, admittedly, but he got hiked up to a mark of 109 after winning a Lingfield maiden hurdle (2m31/2f, heavy) in March of 2016 and he’s largely struggled since. Only now is the handicapper showing him some leniency, dropping him to 88, and judging by his encouraging reappearance fourth at Leicester earlier this month (2m, soft) he’s about to take advantage. Today’s extra half mile is another plus, as is his rider Tommy Dowling’s 5lb claim, and he should be a good price to boot.
The same trainer/jockey combination are also represented by BROTHER BENNETT who looks to have been found a soft opening in the 2m novices’ handicap hurdle. Again, it’s not a race to have a chunky bet on and the selection’s overall record (0-15 over hurdles/fences) is another reason to keep stakes small.
That said, the seven-year-old certainly not devoid of ability and ran his best race in a long while when third on his reappearance at Fakenham in November. He failed to build on that when returned to the same track on his next outing, but he’s been dropped a further 4lb since and his revised mark of 84 is a massive 29lb lower than his peak rating. He also benefits from his rider’s 5lb claim and a pair of first-time cheek-pieces might also help to sharpen him up.
A lot of Kim Bailey’s horses weren’t right last season due to a lingering bug and GLENFORDE was one of those affected, albeit he still managed to finish third (of 16) in a maiden hurdle at Chepstow in February.
He was roughed off after finishing well beaten on his final outing with a view to going novice chasing this term, and the break looked to have done him good when reappearing at Chepstow in November. Although he was beaten a fair way into fourth behind the winner Ramses De Teillee, he gave the impression that the run, which was his first for eight months, would bring him on considerably.
Having been given a month to get over those exertions, meaning there is less chance of the dreaded ‘bounce factor’ striking, he should be far more competitive in this afternoon’s 2m4f handicap chase. With just six rivals to beat, none of whom look particularly progressive, I fancy he might prove good enough to score under David Bass.
The 3m handicap chase on the card has also drawn a field of seven and the one that makes most appeal is the David Dennis-trained CRANK EM UP, who has the services of Aidan Coleman.
The six-year-old has won three races and all in different spheres – a point-to-point, a bumper and a hurdle, at this track – and he can surely win over the bigger obstacles too. He’s certainly got the size to cope and his latest effort at Wetherby also provides plenty of encouragement as he stepped up a fair way on the form of his chase debut in a first-time visor, to finish a staying-on third.
He’s always going to be best suited by a real stamina test – it was a real slog in the mud when he won his hurdles race over 2m7f here – and today’s conditions will play to his strengths. He’s also been kindly dropped 3lb since his last run and his new new mark of 106, which is 14lb lower than his peak hurdles rating, is one he can win off. He won’t get many better opportunities than today’s.
All odds were correct at time of posting.