It’s a slow start to the year with fairly low key cards this Saturday, although we do still have Grade 1 honours up for grabs for the two mile novice hurdlers courtesy of the Tolworth Hurdle. This spot in the calendar though has been enhanced in recent years with the introduction of the final of the popular Veterans' series.
As a result, strong fancies are thin on the ground but there are a couple that catch the eye including in the aforementioned Veterans' contest.
3.15 WINCANTON – KILLER CLOWN
This two-and-a-half mile chase looks perfect for Emma Lavelle’s KILLER CLOWN and he rates the bet of the day. The 8yo has only had twelve runs and looked set for a career high when cruising at Newbury in the Sir Peter O’Sullivan memorial in November. Stop that race three out and it was a case of name the distance.
He was still leading two out, but a mistake there soon saw him on the back foot. He had been keen early in the race and those exertions told in the final quarter mile. The drop back in trip and a stronger pace should suit while a 3lb drop in the ratings is an added bonus coupled with a welcome winner for the yard earlier in the week.
3.00 SANDOWN – WANDRIN STAR
This Veterans’ series has been a real success as our favourite jumpers battle it out over the season against each other, saving them from slugging it out against younger legs.
Aso has been a well backed favourite on the back of his second to Blaklion who subsequently hacked up again at Haydock before New Year. Aso was once second in a Ryanair Chase and has been campaigned at a higher level than his rivals this afternoon.
Four of these come into the race on the back of a success, something only one of the six previous winners had done. The most interesting of these is WANDRIN STAR for Kim Bailey. He has only had twenty lifetime starts, nineteen of those over fences, winning four and runner-up on a further three occasions. He was a course and distance winner two months ago beating Dancing Shadow and Gwencilly Berbas. He is talented but fragile, we know he will handle conditions and is among the ‘younger’ brigade of qualifiers at 11.
Final Nudge qualified for this by landing a bit of a touch at Warwick in November. Despite a 3lb rise, he is still well treated on his form of three years ago, but obviously we don’t expect improvement at the ripe age of 13.
REST OF THE CARDS
The feature race is the Tolworth Hurdle at 2.25. I was hoping Might I was declared to see if he could get closer to Constitution Hill on their course and distance meeting five weeks ago. However, Harry Fry has kept him at home. The debut of Constitution Hill was hugely eye-catching, so much so he is just behind stablemate Jonbon for Supreme Novice Hurdle favouritism at Cheltenham. However, I would want to see him back it up before rowing in at long odds-on with talented rivals in opposition. It’s a race to watch and dissect afterwards.
I am a big fan of Martello Sky (12.40) as her attitude is such a willing one. However, the ground may not suit her as well as the Irish raiders Skyace and Gauloise so I will leave her alone here. She has won twice at Cheltenham though so look out for her in the spring.
Gunsight Ridge looked a good thing at Exeter after a more than promising debut at Aintree over a trip short of his best. However, he bumped into a certain L’Homme Presse who has advertised the form very favourably since and he could potentially be chucked in off a mark of 130, but he certainly hasn’t been missed in the market. I’m happy to leave the 6/4 alone in a competitive contest.
Not much to go with this weekend so let’s keep the powder dry for further down the line.
*All odds correct at time of publishing | 18+ | BeGambleAware