We head to the Surrey track for a class 6 handicap and a race that might just expose top weight Putin despite Charlotte Jenner’s claim. The horse was have to win off a career high mark of some 5 pounds to take this and despite her win last time I just think this may be beyond her. There are a few that may go well and be potentially more value in the race and one of these is Skidby Mill. George Baker takes the ride and the form seems to be stacking up with the horse hitting the frame in 8 of her last 9 runs which is a remarkable feat. Naturally the concern would be as to what she has beaten but you would like to think she can at least make the frame in this sphere. The jockey clearly gets on well with the horse having won twice and came 2nd by just under 2 lengths the last day when she didn’t seem to care a huge deal for the undulations at Brighton. This sounder and truer surface should suit more.
West Leake, another course and distance winner could be a danger but once again the weight could be tricky. There is a chance that the horse will run beyond that and the oldest horse in the race certainly has the experience but the handicapper may just have a grip on her at present. Dimitar’s form has been weak recently but she takes a drop in grade and this could be within her sphere.
Skidby Mill (E/W if 5/1+)
The Andrew Balding stable have started the season in cracking form and they run Grace and Favour here in this class 5 handicap which has a somewhat disappointing 6 runners in it. The horse has no real form to date but the pedigree suggests this longer trip may suit the horse. Chepstow can be a difficult course for inexperienced horses and that is always the worry but if Grace and Favour takes to the surface I think she may run a big race. The main danger will be the course and distance winner Pandorica who clearly has taken to the surface. I would err on the side of caution with taking that as a huge thing for this horse whose form has been very disappointing and although this is a drop in grade she may well struggle.
Mambo Rhythm could well be another danger and certainly given that she is rated the same as the selection. Franny Norton’s booking suggests that this is definitely not Mark Johnston’s first string and you would like to think Joe Fanning would be here if there was a huge chance. Famous last words…
Grace And Favour (WIN)
With the jumping season in its infancy and the sounder surface proving to be a little troublesome this early on there could be a few surprises but one area there aren’t any is with regard to the jockeys getting amongst the winners. With McCoy retiring no one would deny Richard Johnson a jockey’s championship and he takes the ride on Benbecula here for Richard Mitchell. The horse could well be a little bit more progressive and in this company he may well have a very good chance. The weight, trip and ground aren’t an issue and the jockey booking is very interesting for a stable of that size. However, the one to catch the eye both on ratings and on previous form is Aviator who is very lightly raced for a 7 year old and will be very hard to beat. Ourmanmassini could run a decent race but he would have to be at the top of his game to beat Aviator.