Just the four runners go to post for the feature race of the day at Plumpton, a Class 3 Novices’ Chase over the extended two miles and three furlongs. Read on for our expert betting tips and runner by runner preview.
IN SUMMARY: Four time hurdle winner Baron Alco heads into this contest as the deserved favourite off the back of a solid third in better company than this at Cheltenham when last seen. That was just his first start over fences and Gary Moore’s charge should prove a tough horse to beat. However, everything has a price and the value in the race is without doubt WISHING AND HOPING (6/4) who gave the impressive Value At Risk a proper race at Bangor off level weights last time out, 59 lengths clear of the remainder. That was his first start since January and with improvement expected to come from the Alan King inmate, he might have enough in the locker to beat the favourite. It is also worth noting that our selection has only had seven career starts to date so there could be a lot of untapped potential under the bonnet.
1 BARON ALCO – Impressive chase debut at Cheltenham last month, chasing home Marracudja and Presenting Arms, travelling powerfully but couldn’t see out the hill as well as the front pair. Step up in trip is likely to suit this four time hurdle winner who was a winner over 2m 5f on Good to Soft in the past. A reproduction of his latest run could well be enough to land this contest but the odds of 4/7 aren’t too tempting so he looks worth taking on.
2 COOLE CHARMER – Neil Mulholland will be heart broken to have lost Fox Norton in recent weeks but he has trained plenty of winners already this season. This Flemensfirth gelding was 5th behind Thistlecrack at Chepstow last month but he was tailed off, beat a total of 61 lengths. Unless some major improvement is forthcoming, his best hope is finishing third here bar a fall from the leading two in the market. He won his bumper in good style on debut at Towcester when trained by Nicky Henderson. This is just his second start for the yard so maybe there is improvement to come but he looks likely to struggle.
3 DUE SOUTH – Linda Jewell doesn’t have the best of strike-rates both on the flat and over the jumps and this certainly would be a shock winner. This five year old gelding is by City Honours, a sire who’s progeny generally fare better over three miles or further. He has just had the one start to date, 107 lengths behind Clondaw Cian who actually went on to win a Cheltenham handicap really well at the weekend. However, he will need a lot more than just that form boost to take a hand here, 107 lengths is a hell of a lot of ground to make up. Impossible to see him winning unless the market leaders fall.
4 WISHING AND HOPING – Alan King trained gelding who has a little bit to do to beat Baron Alco if the form book is to be believed but this trainer is one of the best in the UK at improving his novices. He won three of his first five starts, firstly his bumper at Wincanton before going on to chase home Barter’s Hill (1st), Buveur D’Air (2nd) and this seasons’ Arkle favourite Altior (3rd) when 5th at the same venue. If he could repeat that sort of form over fences, he would take a lot of stopping in this contest. Another major advantage he has over his main rival is winning course form; he won a maiden hurdle here last season before beating Gary Moore’s Clayton at Ascot. That horse went on to finish 2nd to Peter The Mayo Man, one of the most progressive hurdlers’ in the UK this season for the Mulholland team. Everything looks set for a massive run from our selection.