3.00pm Uttoxeter Tips & Betting Preview 18/03/2017

Two winning favourites from just the five runnings of this race so far and a 40% success rate is interesting while they have all carried ten stone thirteen or more, suggesting the better horses can come out on top which leads to top weight Call The Cops (50/1) as a sensible starting point. Trained by Ben Haslam these days having previously been in the care of Nicky Henderson, the now eight-year-old is a class act at his best, and won the Coral Cup at the Cheltenham Festival in March 2015, which coincidentally was his last victory. Put up seven pounds for that win, he went on to finish a good second to Taglietelle at Aintree which saw him put up another eight pounds, so no great surprise that he has struggled in his six races since. Moved for a change of scenery in December, he has had two runs so far this season with a seventy-three length eighth at Carlisle and more recently a forty-six length last of eleven at Musselburgh, poor efforts that have seen his rating drop to 137 today, his lowest mark since February 2015 before his big Cheltenham win. He does seem out of sorts, and the stable haven’t even had a runner in the last two weeks let alone a winner, but the handicapper has given him every chance this afternoon and if he can be rejuvenated he is most certainly well weighted and could surprise with a place despite top weight in this lesser company even if he may be better over half a mile further.

Ordo Ab Chao (15/2) Each Way) is the selection for the Alan King stable and will strip an awful lot fitter after a return to action at ascot last month after twenty-two months off the track. Prior to that he has pulled up behind Thistlecrack at Aintree in the Sefton Novices’ Hurdle which followed a seven and a half length seventh at the Cheltenham Festival 2015 in the Neptune Hurdle, so he clearly has plenty of talent, He has won at Huntingdon (twice) and Cheltenham over this sort of trip so no issues there and he did look as if he may go on to be better than a handicapper, and if that is correct then he looks well weighted here off a rating of 134. He beat Value At Risk at level weights and he was last seen over hurdles off a rating of 144, while he also finished less than eighth lengths behind the now 153 rated Windsor Park, so he may well have slipped in under the radar here and looks well worth a bet this afternoon.

Sue Smith continues to produce winner after winner from her Yorkshire base with seven wins from her last seventeen runners for a 41% success rate and a level stakes profit, and she will be expecting a big run from De Vous A Moi (14/1) who is usually seen over fences these days, but took a novice hurdle by ten lengths at Newcastle last time out on heavy going over two and three quarter miles. Given a mark of 132 for this handicap he has run well off this sort of mark over fences so could be sensibly handicapped, but more importantly arrives in top form for a stable in among the winners. His trainer said after that contest that “De Vous A Moi jumped well and I am chuffed he has won. We ran him over hurdles as there aren’t any races for him over fences”, and it appears that is still the case if they send him here, but who is to say he can’t improve further with experience and he is another dark horse who could upset those higher in the betting.

Further down the weights Tim Vaughan will be hoping that Canton Prince (16/1) gets in to the race as the gelded son of Shantou looks to win his fourth race of the season after victories at Newton Abbot (in a bumper), Fontwell, and Worcester (both in novice hurdles). After pulling up at Chepstow in the Grade Two Persian War Novices’ Hurdle in October (and quickly dismounted by jockey Richard Johnson suggesting something was wrong), he had a month off before returning with a fifteen and a half length fourth to Venue at Musselburgh on his handicap debut. Given a rating of 130 that day, he has been dropped a couple of pounds for this afternoon’s contest but may well have found the two miles too short for him that day, and stepped up to this trip a much better showing is eagerly anticipated.

Profit is still the name of the game and the followers of the Harry Fry yard will be happy on that score with two winners from seven runners in the last two weeks and a level stakes profit of exactly thirteen points. He has Dashing Oscar (8/1) in here and after two wins and two places from just the four runs this season, he has to enter calculations in any race preview. Novice wins over two miles at Bangor and then Sandown caught the eye before being stepped up to this sort of trip to finish third to The Unit at Taunton when looking a little one paced, but staying on well enough at the death. The return to two miles at Bangor didn’t work when he finished a four length second to Cousin Oscar when running on at odds of 8/15, but a handicaps debut awaits and stepped back up in trip he ought to go well enough this afternoon and threaten the places at the very least.

With not one course and distance winner declared in this field it may be worth a second look at Sky Khan (14/1) who has won here over shorter as well as over this sort of trip at Market Rasen and Sedgefield. Four wins from twenty-six starts over hurdles have won over £60,000 in win and place prize money, though it is now seven races since his last win and he hasn’t looked anywhere near as good so far this season. Last time out he finished a twelve length fifth of seven to Oscar rock at Market Rasen over this sort of trip but that was a better looking race, and he has been dropped another three pounds this afternoon which looks to have left him on a tempting mark for a better effort, with the Lucinda Russell yard in decent enough form with four wins from their last nineteen runners for a 21% success rate.

One last horse for now and Aengus (6/1) is in hot form after winning his last two starts at Wetherby and Catterick by nine lengths and ten lengths in Class four handicaps over two and a half miles, and then three miles plus. Stamina is clearly not going to be an issue for the son of Robin Des Champs but an extra ten pounds from the handicapper may be enough to stop his winning run, though a place is still a possibility while he remains in this sort of form.

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