Heavy ground at Hereford for their meeting last week saw plenty of non finishers. More of the same likely here with conditional jockeys over an attritional three miles and a furlong, Read on for our expert tip and runner by runner preview.
IN SUMMARY: Despite eleven runners, there are only a couple of these that can be given serious consideration currently. Late Shipment will be popular having won over C&D recently but his stamina limitations were exposed on softer ground last time and the same is expected now. Cotswold Road could be dangerous back from a break while better is expected from Wood Pigeon under these conditions. At the prices however the vote goes to MORE THAN LUCK. He showed enough in point to points on deep ground for his runs for a handicap mark to be easily disregarded. A move into handicaps, up in trip and back onto soft ground should be the precursor to a much improved display.
1 COTSWOLD ROAD – Showed plenty of promise last season in novice hurdles behind the likes of Whataknight and Vieux Lille. An opening gambit in handicaps of 115 looked fair last season but a drop to two miles at Kempton proved to be the wrong move. He was disappointing after, stepped up to three miles at Exeter but the absence since March suggests all was not well. Angus Cheleda takes the mount, boasting a 50% strike rate for the yard from just six rides. The ground is going to test his stamina on his seasonal return but this is a slight ease in grade.
2 MORE THAN LUCK – Posted sound efforts in Irish point to points in the Spring, despite falling twice, before ending on a low when puled up on quick ground. The ground appeared too fast for him on his first two starts in novice hurdles, shaping much better at this course last time when picking a few off late from the back over 19f. The step up in trip is a huge plus on his handicap debut given his pointing exploits with first time cheek pieces an interesting addition. His third behind Robinroyale and Lough Derg Jewel suggests this mark is lenient and much better is now expected.
3 WOOD PIGEON – A dour stayer in Ireland both under rules and in points, this step up in trip on deep ground could see him in a much better light. He was comprehensively outpaced in a novice hurdle at Leicester on his seasonal return but both Ballyarthur and Global Stage who beat him that day are above average recruits. Providing this doesn’t come too soon, just a fortnight after his return, the longer trip should allow him to get into a better rhythm and he has an each way chance.
4 MIDNIGHT REQUEST – Winless in eleven starts over hurdles, he tries the smaller obstacles for the first time since December 2014. He has made up into a better chaser, boasting wins on a sounder surface but his hurdles mark has risen by nine pounds in the interim. Unable to win off his previous marks, this looks on the tough side and after pulling up last time, this could just be a confidence boosting mission.
5 LATE SHIPMENT – A winner over this course and distance early in January, he was rarely travelling with the same fluency when attempting to follow up at Exeter. The stiffer track and softer ground appeared to be his undoing and although reverting back to a former happy hunting ground, this even softer surface has to be a cause for concern for this ex good to firm flat scorer. He will no doubt have his supporters but at the prices he looks well worth taking on.
6 KAPRICORNE – Rattled up a quick fire hat-trick in the Autumn of 2014 but subsequent form has been harder to find. He had a going day at Huntingdon on Boxing Day but was well beaten off at this track subsequently. Two of his three wins came on soft ground but he has failed to finish within seventeen lengths of the leader in five goes on heavy ground and the deep surface has to be a worry once again.
7 IT’S OSCAR – A winner over three miles at Southwell in July when the change of headgear to a first time visor appeared to work the oracle. Three efforts since including when tried in a visor last time have been well below par. He has generally been on the decline for some time now and although he is adaptable with regards to both ground and trip, he is hard to support with any confidence on recent efforts.
8 FILATORE – A win in a Ffos Las seller in April has done little to halt his decline. Previously as highly rated as 120, he finds himself languishing off just 89 now. The pick of his form over hurdles including both of his wins have come over shorter trips at Ffos Las but even a pair of runs at the South Wales track this season have failed to spark him into life. This trip has looked to stretch him in the past and he is an unlikely winner despite the weakness of the contest.
9 BUS NAMED DESIRE – Connections coaxed a win out of her in November 2015 but she has been pulled up on her last three starts. She has not looked at all interested either start this season, dropping herself out a long way from home. Connections revert to hurdles in an attempt to get her confidence back and running off the same mark as her most recent win, she would have a chance if it worked. That is too big a risk to take however and she can only be watched for now.
10 L FRANK BAUM – Formerly an above average stayer on the flat, knuckling down well under pressure to land Bath and Ffos Las handicaps. His sole win over hurdles came on similar ground to this at Plumpton over two miles. on his flat form there would be hope for him staying this far but that has never translated on his hurdling efforts and he is hard to support.
11 EARCOMESTHEDREAM – Fourteen years of age and those teenage legs aren’t carrying him the way they used to. The softer the ground the better for him these days to slow the opposition up as it was fourteen months ago at Towcester. That win off 100 came as a shock to most, finding himself down to a mark of just 79 now, having to run from six pounds wrong in the weights. He briefly showed some sparkle before Christmas at Towcester but once headed seemed happy to beat a retreat and despite the lowly mark, it’s hard to support him at his age.