Our one and only jumps race this afternoon sees us take in the final race from Perth with a novices handicap hurdle.
I am a big personal fan of Sendiym but it’s had quite a hard season this year and now sits pretty high up in the weights so although it has a chance of perhaps getting into the places at a decent price other runners have a better chance today.
The biggest danger I see to my selection is the Nicky Richards trained One For Hocky. With two wins and two top three finishes in its last four races shows the horse is in great form. With a course and distance win to its name it will clearly like todays conditions and I would be very surprised if the horse didn’t finish in the top three today but I hope my selection can get its head in front.
The horse I am pinning my hopes on is one of the youngest horses in the race. It is rare that Irish based trainer Gordon Elliot will send a horse over to the UK, especially for a small mid-week meeting. He sends Eshtiaal over for this race and prior to its last two races it has had some horrendous looking form that included no top half finishes in its first five jumps starts. Its latest few starts however shows that the horse clearly has ability and with Richard Johnson in the saddle this horse has a great chance.
The first flat race comes from over in Ireland at Tipperary’s mixed card (including both flat and national hunt races) and although this may be a bit of an obvious selection I just can’t see the Ballydoyle runner King Of Aragon being beaten. With a seasonal reappearance that was a decent second placed finish shows that horse has trained on from its two year old season and has answered a lot more questions that the rivals it faces today.
Obviously Jaleo is an unknown quantity and is very nicely bred. Trainer Jim Bolger has a 33% strike rate with his two year olds this year and is the likely danger. All this being said however I still have to side with the favourite.
King Of Aragon (WIN)
Todays third and final selection sees us take in a race on the all-weather as our last selections comes in the final race at Southwell.
I really like the chances of Roy Bowring’s Marina Ballerina who relishes this course and has never lost when it has raced over course and distance and it seems markedly over priced at 11/1 however despite it being a very close call there is just one horse who’s chances I like every so slightly more.
Seven of eight runners have all won at Southwell including current race favourite Serenity Now. Callum Shepherd is riding the market leader who has hit a bit of form but on the whole the horse is pretty inconsistent and you couldn’t be confident of the type of run you will get from the horse.
This now leads me on to my selection. It may seem strange that I have plumped for the one horse who has yet to even race on the all-weather and unlike its rivals hasn’t got a previous win at the track. It is also worth pointing out that it is the only horse that is still left to win a race of any kind. All this being said however and I think Ralphy Lad has a great chance. The horse has been backed from 8/1 into as short as 7/2 with some bookmakers and it is very noticeable that top jockey Kieren Fallon sticks around for a ride in the last race. Fallon did the same the other day at another all-weather meeting and duly won the last, I am hoping the jockey can repeat the performance this evening. The horse has yet to find its best feet but will surely strip fitter for its seasonal reappearance and its breeding suggests it will handle the artificial surface. The fact the horse is also a four year old allows it more room for improvement that most of its rivals and should have a great chance of ending todays selections on a high.
Ralphy Lad (WIN)
by Rory Paddock