There’s the usual Saturday spread of quality racing around the country today, but we court your attention to the proceedings at Market Rasen and give the verdict on the two highlight races taking place there.
(‘enough of the legal puns, thank you’ – Ed)
Main feature on the card is the £50,000 added Betfred Summer Plate Handicap Chase at 3.20, which has attracted 15 runners and it’s 8-1 the field.
This price brings in the Ian Williams’ trained Poker School, closely followed by Alcala for Paul Nicholls and Days Of Heaven from Nicky Henderson’s yard.
Poker School has won two of its 6 chase attempts but finished a poor last of six at Haydock when last seen in May and, frankly, I’m struggling to work out why this horse is favourite.
Alcala has won three from seven, but mainly against trees and a mark of 147, compared to a hurdle mark of 129, is surely too much.
Days Of Heaven is four from five over the larger obstacles, but all wins have come over shorter trips than today and with the rail adjustments adding an extra furlong this afternoon, El Bow has entered the arena.
Value e/w punt in the race is the Brian Ellison trained Viens Chercher at an attractive 11-1. Two from three on this track, including its only chase win, VC was having its first run since January when finishing 4th to today’s rival Earthmoves in the Summer Plate Trial over course and distance last month. Beaten 12 lengths that day, our pick is eleven lbs better off today and, perhaps significantly, is shorter in the betting. Not given at all a hard race then, Tom Scudamore may well be more vigorous this afternoon and, off 132, can bring the plan to fruition.
The other ‘big’ race on the card is at 2.10, when 10 runners go to post for the Betfred TV Summer Handicap Hurdle, a Listed contest over the minimum trip(ish).
Favourite in all books at 4-1is Dr Richard Newland’s Ebony Express, which came back from a lengthy absence at the beginning of this month to touch off our own, our very own Attest in a Class 3 event at Uttoxeter. Although perhaps slightly fortunate to win there, it was undoubtedly an impressive return to action after 18months off and when you consider that this horse won the Imperial Cup at Sandown off a mark of 131, today’s 126 is well within its compass, so a win bet is advised.
Another runner that garners my attention in this race is the Ian Williams’ trained Kapstadt, which is available at the each way price of 6-1. This 94 rated Flat racer has five handicap hurdles under its surcingle already and has been specifically targeted at this race for a considerable time. Fighting fit from a successful foray back on the level and with ground conditions ideal, off a mark of 132 we recommend a decent e/w lash.
Let’s hope we acquit ourselves with (your) honour.