A field of 14 go to post for the third race of the day at Uttoxeter on Wednesday, a 2m 7f Handicap Hurdle. See our betting tips and full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Iniesta was a good second on his latest start, but that was over 2m 1f and he’s very risky upped six furlongs in distance. He’ll have a very good chance if staying, but preference is for WALTZ DARLING who was last seen finishing a great second at Market Rasen in August behind a horse who has won again since. He made up a huge amount of ground late on and without a mistake at the last he could have perhaps caught the winner. He’s only two pounds higher here and can gain a fifth career victory over timber.
1 BENEFICIAL JOE – Strong stayer for Graeme McPherson who finished third at Newton Abbot two starts ago, with a mistake at the last not helping his cause. He had valid excuses for his latest defeat at Stratford, but he does need a strong pace at this trip if he’s to be threatening under Kielan Woods. Top weight of 12 stone makes this an even trickier task and he could only be given each way claims this time around.
2 MUTHABIR – Won two starts ago at Taunton with a complete performance of jumping and he wasn’t disgraced off four pounds higher when last seen in April, only weakening late on after a mistake at the second last. He now returns from a 139 day absence in a competitive race and he’ll need to be at his very best to defy this career high mark under Ian Popham. If ready to roll he has each way claims, but he’s likely to be outstayed by at least a few of these.
3 AFTER EIGHT SIVOLA – Clearly not as good as he once was for Nick Williams, though he does have a race like this in him, as proved by his fourth at Market Rasen two starts ago. That was, however, at the 2m 4f trip and he has plenty to prove upped to the three miles, though he does have valid claims of staying. Chester Williams takes seven pounds off his back which is a valuable help and he’s dangerous to discount.
4 WALTZ DARLING – Placed on his last two starts for Gillian Bonas, last seen at Market Rasen in August behind a horse who has followed up since. He was only beaten two lengths that day and he was gaining all the time after the last, with a mistake at that hurdle meaning that he just couldn’t get to the leader. He’s only two pounds higher here and if the cheekpieces continue to have the desired effect he looks sure to be a danger.
5 BYRON BLUE – Front runner for Brian Barr who arrives here in good form over obstacles, with form figures of 212 the last thrice. He kept on stoutly after being headed to finish second to a Dan Skelton hot-pot at Newton Abbot in August and he’s sure to relish being back up in trip. He looks certain to give another good account off the same mark and could fill out one of the placings.
6 SOURIYAN – Yet to win for the Peter Bowen yard and he’s failed to really catch the eye over the obstacles or on the flat. He looked labored when fifth at Ayr in April and his latest flat start at Ffos Las was another poor run as he was tailed off. He has plenty to prove now and it’s hard to recommend him today, despite the inclusion of a first-time visor.
7 ROLLO’S REFLECTION – Lightly raced seven-year-old for Ben Case who has only shown form of note in one of his four starts. That run came back in May at Worcester, with the rider dropping his whip over three out before he blundered badly at the final hurdle, finishing an unlucky second in the circumstances. He’s been well beaten in two runs since though and arrives here with plenty to prove, with connections adding the blinkers. He’s not fully discounted, but he’s not one for the faint-hearted.
8 WOLFTRAP – Hasn’t looked dangerous in any of his starts this year for Philip Hobbs, never better than his finishing position when fourth at Newton Abbot two weeks ago. He’s only a pound lower here and needs to find some improvement. He’ll be aided by the softer ground but he looks vulnerable to some more frequent winners on this occasion, with place claims all he can be given.
9 OUR FOLLY – Only two pounds above his last winning mark, with that latest victory coming at Newton Abbot in June. He was poor though on his latest start at the same venue, weakening out of things tamely when ridden. That does give him something to prove and he’s hardly the most consistent of runners for Stuart Kittow. Hard to rule him out entirely but others look better propositions on this occasion.
10 ROYALE DJANGO – Four wins from 15 starts for this eight-year-old for Tim Vaughan, though his last win came back in June 2016 and he’s been very poor on most of his starts since. He was well beaten on his latest start at Uttoxeter in June, losing touch a long way from home and he has plenty to prove off of five pounds lower. He’s clearly capable of better, but you’re backing purely on trust.
11 YUR NEXT – Won at Taunton in January off a six pound lower mark for Johnny Farrelly, but that was in Class 5 company and she’s been soundly beaten on three runs since. She’s struggled to beat a rival on those starts, labouring in last at Market Rasen 25 days ago. She needs to stage a revival after those poor runs in the summer and she couldn’t be recommended here.
12 INIESTA – Made his first hurdling start for a long while when second at Newton Abbot on his latest start, only headed after the last where he blundered badly and threw the race away. He’s four pounds higher here and goes up markedly in trip, which is a big unknown and his stamina gives little hope that he’ll stay this far. Interesting if market support comes, but he’s likely best watched at his first attempt beyond 2m 1f.
13 MAGUIRE’S GLEN – Has shown a fair level of form since joining the Grace Harris yard, but not yet enough to prove that he can win a race of this nature. He was fourth at Worcester on his latest start over hurdles, not convincing that he was the easiest of rides on that occasion. He needs much more pitched into a tougher race and couldn’t be recommended on this occasion.
14 PRINCE KUP – Well beaten in last place on both his starts since joining the Laura Hurley yard, offering little to no encouragement at this venue back in July. He goes beyond 2m 4f for the first time and, with little hope that he’ll stay, others are readily preferred.