A very competitive field of six go to post for the first race of the day at Southwell on Sunday, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Overcoming a bad mistake when winning at Newcastle on his latest start, more can be expected of UNO VALOROSO, who can brush aside a 8lb rise to win again for Mark Walford. Today’s conditions will suit him and Jamie Hamilton takes off a useful 3lb, so he should have no problem of taking victory considering he has still performed well off this sort of mark in the past. His biggest challenger may well be Back By Midnight, though he’ll need an easy lead to be seen at best effect which he may not get.
1 TRUCKERS HIGHWAY – Has the form to feature but his record is very patchy, so although he was a good winner at Ludlow in January (2m, Good to Soft), he weakened out of things quite tamely at the same venue last time out (2m 4f, Soft). Remains on the same mark and has something to prove on that basis, which makes him quite a risky proposition on balance. Possible place claims but others make more appeal on these terms today..
2 UNZING – French/Irish import for Charles Pogson who won his first race in Britain at Market Rasen on Boxing Day, but hasn’t managed to hit that level since then. He was disappointing when third of five finishers at the same venue in January (2m 5f, Soft) and fell at Wetherby on Tuesday, weakening at the time. Remains on the same mark but needs more if he’s to feature, though going back down in trip is likely to suit. Possible place contender but really does need to step up his game.
3 BACK BY MIDNIGHT – Posted a career best when making all in determined fashion at Sandown back in December (1m 7f, Good), though has not reached the same level since. He weakening rapidly at Ascot two weeks later after being headed (2m, Good to Soft), probably doing to much early and he was fourth at Haydock when last seen, probably owing to the fact he didn’t get a soft lead (2m, Soft). Dropped 2lb from that latest run and would be dangerous if given a soft lead, though that isn’t guaranteed in this field and lessens his claims somewhat. Can’t be fully ruled out but is risky on balance.
4 UNO VALOROSO – Has been steadily improving this season and got back to winning ways at Newcastle on his latest start, despite making a bad blunder at the fourth fence from home (2m, Soft). Raised 8lb as a consequence but with the ease of that victory, he likely has much more to give and with conditions to suit and Jamie Hamilton claiming 3lb, he will take all the beating today for Mark Walford.
5 NEVER UP – Yet to win over fences after five starts but had been showing positive signs for Sue Smith, including a third over C&D in June when last seen over the larger obstacles. He returned this season with an encouraging fourth at Catterick, plugging on after being outpaced (1m 7f, Soft). Needs to do better in this sphere but as a lightly raced six year old that is likely and he has the assistance of the inform Danny Cook to do the steering. Likely type and has to be respected as such.
6 PEMBROKE HOUSE – Has posted two good efforts this season for Sarah-Jayne Davies, finishing second on seasonal reappearance at Hereford in December (2m 2f, Soft) and once again gave his all when a close third at Uttoxeter two weeks ago (1m 7f, Heavy). Down a pound and looks likely to run another good race under Robbie Dunne, but an overall record of two wins from twenty-seven doesn’t make for impressive reading. Should be running on at the business end but hard not to see him bumping into one too good.