Race Time: 2.20pm Meeting: Newcastle Day: Saturday 27th February 2016 Full Race Name: Betfred “Still Treble Odds On Lucky 15’s” Handicap Hurdle Class Two
Trainer Venetia Williams seems to have this race by the scruff of the neck at present with Zamdy Man heading the weights and currently keeping the bottom four declared i.e. forced to carry more physical weight than their allotted handicap marks. As for the hose, he has been sent novice chasing for his last two runs (and only races for this season), but hasn’t really looked like a natural jumper, and may be better off going back over hurdles. In January 2014 he beat Un Temps Pour Tout over this sort of trip at Haydock on heavy going, and the runner up has gone on to run some amazing races against the likes of Saphir Du Rheu, Cole Harden and Whisper, to name but three, but he did even better when runner up to The New One next time out at the same venue, form which saw his rating peak at 156. Off of six pounds less today he must have a squeak even with top weight, though he did have close to a year off for whatever reason which has to be a worry to his many supporters.
Recent history has seen the Northern yards keep this prize at home but David Pipe fancies bucking that trend with Heath Hunter, who gets a stone and four pounds from Zamdy Man here. If he travels up from Pond House in Somerset the diesel has to be paid for somehow, and he did look as if his turn was not far away last time out at Taunton when ten lengths second to Sea Wall on heavy going, and although that was no excuse, we do feel he will be even better suited by the soft ground currently predicted for the weekend. He does have to carry five pounds more than his highest ever winning mark, but that is certainly possible, and he is very much on our short list for this race Saturday afternoon.
As things stand, Lucy Wadham is responsible for the only last time out winner in the field with Minstrels Gallery, who scored by two and a quarter lengths from the consistent Maxie T at Wetherby for his second win of the season, though both were on heavy going and one was over further than this minimum trip, so we are a bit wary he could get caught out for pace unless more rains fall as seems quite possible, and he can use his stamina to full advantage.
Philip Hobbs is having a season to remember so far and he has entered Draytonian who is of great interest. He clearly likes the northern air with a decent enough third to Charmix at Wetherby on his hurdling debut in October which he followed with an impressive win at the same venue in November when seeing off tars The Tiger (winner since), and by an easy eleven lengths. Last time out at Kempton he was only twelfth of thirteen to Zulu Oscar at Kempton but added a bad blunder to being seriously hampered that day and never really had a chance. If we put a line through that he has a decent enough chance and doesn’t seem too hardly treated off a rating of 126 with James Best expected to ride the second Southern challenger.
At this stage we sort of have to leave out the bottom four who are out of the weights and our last suggestion will be for the consistent but not necessarily well handicapped Vendor who has won or placed in four of his last five races, and has gone up an unlucky thirteen pounds for doing so. This two miles is his trip and he handles soft ground so no issues there, but Sue Smith’s eight-year-old does look to be over weighted here, and a place may be the best he can hope for – again.