With the meeting at Newmarket today having very much an end-of-season appearance, we turn our attention to the first day of the Charlie Hall meeting at Wetherby.
Feature of the card is at 2.35, when the Listed bet365 Handicap Chase takes place, with just seven runners going to post.
Whilst perhaps numerically disappointing, all seven can be given some sort of chance, with the favourite being the Paul Nicholls’ trained Sametegal at 9-4. A winner first time up for the past three seasons, this 8-y-o is described as ‘fragile’ by the trainer and an absence of 608 days would seem to suggest more fragility than usual. At that price, we’ll pass, thank you.
This race was won last year by Indian Stream, who goes for the repeat off just 3lbs higher, but whereas it came here a year ago in really good form, all we have to go on is a badly tailed off run at Chepstow early last month – no thanks.
Having nailed our colours to the mast of Guitar Pete on its last two runs, when it has finished second both times, we are going to go three and out and recommend a win bet at a very reasonable 7-2.
Now with Nicky Richards, this 7-y-o was a dual Grade 1 winning hurdler when trained in Ireland, reaching a lofty hurdles rating of 146 and still rated 137 in that sphere. The two runs over fences referred to above for the current yard have been off a mark of 125 and, with those two ‘sighting shots’ under its belt, today’s rating of 127 still has plenty of wriggle room.
The other Listed contest on the card is at 2.00, in the form of the Arkle Finance Wensleydale Juvenile Hurdle over 2 miles, which has attracted just four runners.
Mr Nicholls has the favourite for this too, in the shape of the ex-French trained Malaya, available at a skinny 5-6. Well beaten on stable debut just 19 days ago, this filly makes little appeal at those odds.
Although City Dreamer has to give weight away to all three of its rivals, we think it may be up to the job and is well overpriced at a tasty 3-1. Rated 65 on the level, Alan King’s charge took a little time to find its feet over hurdles and was turned over at 1-2 on debut. However, a bit of practice and the assistance of Tom Cannon have witnessed an enormous improvement and this horse quickened impressively when winning last time out. The value bet, for sure, for the combination to remain unbeaten.
The first race at 12.50 is the Watch Racing UK On BT TV Conditional Jockeys’ Novices’ Handicap Hurdle will just about be over by the time the commentator reads the title and should see Caged Lightning come home in front under Jamie Bargary. Four hurdle races early last year were followed by a long lay-off and two promising come-back runs on the Flat in the last two months. Whatever ailed the horse has clearly been rectified and Steve Golling’s 7-y-o can take advantage of a lenient handicap mark of just 105. Have a decent each way punt at 6-1, please.
The other handicap hurdle is at 3.10, the bet365 Handicap Hurdle and this will result in Aristo Du Plessis disappearing into the setting sun and coming home well clear under Brian Hughes. You can get 3-1 that this happens.
Guitar Pete 2.35 win @ 7-2
City Dreamer 2.00 win @ 3-1
Caged Lightning 12.50 e/w @ 6-1
Aristo Du Plessis 3.10 win @ 3-1
* Duane Eddy, 1959