9 runners go to post for a 2m3f handicap hurdle confined to conditional jockeys. A 0-115 contest but a race where a couple of these look well capable of improving past this grade as the season progresses.
IN SUMMARY: A fascinating race with Verygoodverygood likely to head the market. He took a long time to get off the mark however and with his form taking a big boost at the weekend, BINDON MILL looks the one to be with. He looks very well treated on an Exeter second in February and can get off the mark to reward the patience shown by connections. Bestwork D’Olivate is a very interesting runner on her handicap debut with reasons to expect a better showing now on softer ground at a double figure price.
1 Verygoodverygood – Finally off the mark last time at Ffos Las under this jockey. Previously outbattled by a far from resolute Beau Phil at Newton Abbot before outstayed over further at Exeter, it looked like he might be tough to win with. The runner up at Ffos Las had been turned over in a number of sellers previously so the form isn’t overly strong for all that his confidence is likely to have been buoyed. He is likely to command a fair percentage of the market at this level but at the prices the percentage call is to oppose.
2 Bindon Mill – Very lightly raced considering he is rising 8, taking on handicap opposition for the first time having kept warm company in novice contests. It’s probably unwise to rate his latest run through the 139 rated winner who patently underperformed. The third however bolted up at Cheltenham at the weekend off the same 115 rating that Bindon Mill races off here which makes him massively of interest.
3 Saphir De Somoza – More than three years now since his only glimmer of form, when second at Toulouse. Tough to know what that form is worth, showing little in one run in Ireland in January. A half brother to multiple Grade 1 winner Or Noir De Somoza, he shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand but he is hard to support on what is currently in the book.
4 Carqalin – Well supported on debut at Plumpton but performed dismally in desperate ground. Hurdles, a step up in trip and headgear have all failed to bring about any improvement in subsequent starts. Connections are likely to find the key at some point but he is hard to recommend the way he stopped so quickly last time out at Fakenham.
5 Star Trouper – Looked a promising recruit when winning on debut before a close runner up effort behind the smart Mister Miyagi. Three subsequent starts saw punters fingers burnt as he was sent off a beaten favourite each time. Left Philip Hobbs for just £4,500 in the summer, he showed signs of life when runner up at Wetherby at the end of October. Arguably threw the race away on that occasion when stopping in front, Patrick Cowley will have his hands full, trying to deliver him as late as possible but he has a chance if the cards fall right.
6 Paddocks Lounge – Has looked a little headstrong in the past and the addition of a hood did little to help last time. Another long break from the track since tempers confidence still further and would only be of interest if there was significant market support.
7 Lord Ballim – Relatively consistent since going handicapping, finishing runner up on his two most recent starts. He finds himself a couple of pounds higher now which makes things tougher but he wasn’t suited by the way the race was run last time and he holds an each way chance.
8 Bestwork D’Olivate – Has not shown much since arriving on these shores from France but they have all been on quicker ground. She won on soft at Nimes in France beating a horse called Gigilmatto who was 2nd again the next time, beating Veneaux De Cochet who bolted up on debut for Martin Hill off 112. On that, a mark of 102 looks very workable for her and with trainer Martin Hill having a good guide to the form, she is very interesting at a decent price on a softer surface.
9 Catch A Thief – Has not shown an awful lot so far but is a half brother to a pair of decent three mile chasers. The step up in trip and handicapping should see him in a better light and he could be one for the notebook once he goes further again with a set of fences in front of him.