The opening race of the 3-day Winter Million Lingfield card sees an interesting Mares Novice Hurdle with some very interesting Mares so far this season
Favourite Rainyday Woman has been pretty faultless so far this season bar the one 2nd on her form this season. This was her first start of the season and you could forgive her for that. When a lot of Paul Nicholls horse can tend to need their first run when the national hunt season starts properly. The Heavy ground described at the moment would be a worry as all her best form seems on Good or Good to soft.
Dan Skelton trained Nurse Susan has looked impressive in her 2 races so far this season winning both with very little issues along the way. This is clearly a step up but is certainly a horse that has a nice little future ahead of her. Again, uncertain on these Heavy conditions.
Game On For Glory was 2nd behind Rainyday Woman in a listed novice hurdle before end of the year but it's difficult to see her turning that form around although is 3 pounds better of this time against her.
My selection is Love Envoi for Harry Fry. I've been really impressed with her 2 runs. The 1st at Leicester where she was pulling all the way round and still managed to win comfortably and with a bit in hand. Next time out at Warwick which can be a testing track with the penalty still won comfortably by 8 lengths on Heavy going conditions. Will relish the ground at Lingfield Friday. This is a massive step up to what she has faced. But Harry Fry will be hoping he has a good Mare on his hands here. at around 5/1 (At time of writing) looks a each way play here and would be very surprised if she isn't in the top 3 Friday. I just feel the conditions could play a huge part as some of her opposition may not like the going as such.
LOVE ENVOI (E/W)
14:25 Lingfield (ITV Racing)
5 Go in this Cazoo Class 2 Hurdle race.
All these horses at one point have had their day in the sun as such with all of them looking to bounce back after being slightly disappointing in recent times.
On The Blind Side goes into this as favourite but was very disappointing at Cheltenham New Year's Day that was only 20 days ago and surprised to see him back out so quickly. On his day can be very good and the top-rated horse here this is an easier challenge he has faced in recent times.
Calva D'Auge will need a career best to win at Lingfield. Not without a shout at all. though has used the claim of Angus Cheleda for a lot of his victories last season. Which has no doubt helped. Harry Cobden back on board. However, I think Calva D'Auge may struggle to land a blow here.
Top Ville Ben is back over hurdles for the first time in the UK since 2018. Classy horse on his day and it wasn't a bad run at Wetherby Boxing Day in testing conditions. Perhaps the trip might be slightly on the shorter side these days. Interesting connections have reverted back to hurdles.
My selection though is Emitom. I thought Emitom looked to have a very good career over fences but for whatever reason it just hasn't quite worked out. Connections have gone back to hurdles with Emitom. You have to remember Emitom came 4th in the Stayers Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2020. Won at Haydock on Heavy going in 2020 as well so will certainly enjoy the heavy-going conditions that will face him at Lingfield. I'm hoping the Hurdles will revitalise him a little along with the conditions. My only concern would be the yard form has not been great this season. But on paper this is one of the trainer's better horses in training for sure. Still only 8 has plenty of time on his side.
written by Luke Tucker