13:45 Market Rasen
My first selection today comes at Market Rasen in a handicap hurdle run over two miles and one furlong.
Heading the betting here is the Mark Walford inmate King of Strings who is still a maiden over hurdles after five starts. The gelding comes here on the back of a satisfactory effort but his penultimate run was a much sounder effort. While he may be up to winning this a price of 9/4 is short enough and I think one or two others look better treated on paper.
The one that appeals most to me in this contest is Jonjo O Neills charge, Rayak. The 5yo has not really set the world alight since sent over hurdles but looks on a lenient enough mark. While he runs here off a mark of 116, a mark in the 130 bracket looks well within on his scope on two pieces of form. The hood also makes an appearance here for the first time and this could be just what he needs to sharpen him up.
Of the remainder Dormouse has place claims, while Skyfire could be overpriced unless the ground was to turn soft.
For today’s second selection we head to Ludlow for a competitive looking three mile chase.
At the head of the market in this contest is the Venetia Williams trained Royal Palladium who arrives here chasing a four timer. The gelding is a horse who still looks to be improving but it is no easy task winning four races on the bounce. This will also be his first run outside of novice company over fences and this represents a big rise in class. With those concerns in mind, I would be quicker to take a chance on one of the others in this race.
Ludlow is very much a track where horses who run well, will continue to run well here and it’s one such horse who appeals here. The Philip Hobbs trained Roll the Dice has run in three chases at this track winning here once and narrowly denied in two other visits. The gelding does need to produce a career best to win this but I think he looks value for about another seven pounds on his current mark. He also has the assistance of a claimer here too, claiming a valuable seven pounds and that leaves him only carrying 9-12. A low weight could be crucial in this contest over a this trip on likely testing ground.
It’s very hard to rule anything out of this contest with any degree of confidence as all look to hold a chance but Paul Webbers Firm Order could be very well treated. Saying that I think he may have been slightly flattered by his close proximity to Holywell last season but if he wasn’t he could have plenty in hand here.
Roll The Dice (WIN)
For my final selection we head to Ireland for their feature event, the Grade 2 Kinloch Brae chase.
I think we can safely rule out Smokey Joe Joe in this contest unless the other three in the lineup don’t complete.
Don Cossack has really improved over fences this season and he can enhance his reputation once more, before he heads to the Cheltenham festival. The son of Sholokhov has improved by 15lbs this season and there looks like there is more progress to come. He is 3-3 so far this season and while all three wins came on a sounder surface, he is equally as effective on softer ground. With a clear round he looks the one they all have to beat here.
Champage Fever is not all that far behind Don Cossack on ability and is in receipt of two pounds here too. He never stayed the three miles in the King George and this trip today is his optimum trip. The concern here is that run only came twenty days ago and he did have a tough race. At this level I think that horse really need time between their races as these races do tend to take a good bit out of horses. Saying all that, he still should be capable of giving Don Cossack a race here.
The last runner in this contest is the Noel Meade trained Texas Jack who should run his race but I think he looks a level below his two market rivals. He has six lengths to find with Don Cossack on John Durkan running but does meet him on two pounds better terms. That was also his first run of the season so he may finish a good deal closer but I still think Don Cossack is the better horse.
Don Cossack (WIN)