3.10pm Wincanton Tips & Betting Preview 02/02/2017

9 handicappers go to post for the fourth race of the day at Wincanton, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.

IN SUMMARY: Although not at his best the last twice, the heavier conditions are likely to suit the out and out mud lover that is SIROP DE MENTHE. Most of his best performances have come in tricky conditions and he’s a strong stayer at this distance which will count for a lot as this is likely to turn attritional. Lucy Gardner claims a useful 3lb and he’s only 4lb above his last winning mark so is likely to put up another great performance for Sue Gardner returned to these conditions. His main threat is likely to be Copain De Classe, who has proved himself useful the last twice for Paul Nicholls.

1 TORNADO IN MILAN – Eleven year old who is incredibly consistent with form figures of 131222124 since January 2016, and wasn’t necessarily disgraced when fourth at Chepstow in December (2m 3f, Soft). 1lb above his last winning mark and entitled to well again off a mark of 134 in a slightly easier race than his last hurdling run, though he is vulnerable to an improver as he’s not getting any better now in the veteran stage of his career. Likely one for the places but also likely to find one too good today for Evan Williams with Cian Maher claiming 10lb.

2 RIVER FROST – Has been improving nicely over hurdles for Alan King and JP McManus, winning his last two over hurdles and producing a career best to inflict an easy defeat on his rivals at Kempton in Mid-January (2m, Good to Soft) after being left clear at the last. Going up in trip is likely to suit though this heavy ground is a question mark as there isn’t much evidence to suggest he’ll cope well with it yet. Likely to run well though as he continues to improve race by race with Barry Geraghty taking the ride and needs to be respected as such for these powerful connections.

3 ZULU OSCAR – Last win came in December 2015 off a 2lb lower mark and has been poor ever since, finishing a dismal seventh here when last seen in November (2m 3f, Good). Softer ground poses a question mark as he’s unraced on heavy and the George Baker yard aren’t currently firing, which is a concern. Hard to fancy today and others have far more convincing today, so is likely best ignored.

4 SIROP DE MENTHE – Winner three starts ago off a 4lb lower mark but has struggled the last twice, finishing seventh at Haydock two weeks ago when last seen due to being far too keen in the early stages (2m 6f, Soft). This return to heavier ground will be well received however with his best performances coming in dire conditions. He’s a strong stayer at this trip to which will count for a lot as the race is likely to turn attritonal. Lucy Gardner claims a useful 3lb and this seven year old is likely to run well dropped slightly in the handicap, and has to be respected in a bid to notch up his sixth career win.

5 WILLOW’S SAVIOUR – Ten year old who has been very poor the last twice since returning to hurdles, finishing a remote seventh at Newbury on New Year’s Eve (2m 4f, Good to Soft). Dropped in class in a much easier race today and is now back on his last winning mark, but he still doesn’t make much appeal with Skelton’s horses not in particularly good form at present. Hard to fancy and best left alone again.

6 SPACE ODDITY – Improving massively race by race and made it two on the spin when winning comfortably at Taunton in January, and has been raised 5lb for that effort. Harry Fry’s yard remains in brilliant form with a record of 4-13 in the past two weeks and 3lb Kieron Edgar claims 3lb again after winning on him the last twice. Likely to lead in conditions that will suit and has to be respected, as if left alone out front he’ll make it very difficult to past.

7 MASTER HILL – Eleven year old for Colin TIzzard whose been in poor form since April, with form figures of 8P6F since. 1-7 over hurdles which further tempers enthusiasm and its hard to make a case for him, though he’s guaranteed to stay in conditions that will suit. Possible place claims if putting his best foot forward but he’s a huge risk to back, and one to far today.

8 COPAIN DE CLASSE – Won a AQPS race at Vichy when in France and although falling when well beaten on hurdling debut back in November 2015, he’s been steadily improving and put up a career best to win on his third British start ta Chepstow in November (2m, Good to Soft). Romped home that day by seven lengths and likely to come on leaps and bounds for the experience, with this softer conditions likely to suit him too. Needs to prove he stays this distance out strongly though but that is likely now with runs under his belt and has to be respected for Sam Twiston-Davies and Paul Nicholls.

9 CLONDAW SHANE – Second in a point to point before joining Philip Hobbs and wasn’t disgraced on rules debut when again finishing second at Wincanton in November (2m 5f, Good). Dropped back slightly in trip, he took a slight backwards step when fourth and well beaten at the same venue a few weeks later and has something to prove now. He’s untested on softer ground and judging by his pedigree, he’ll need further than this to show his best. Possible each way claims if this turns into a slog but hard to envisage him being the winner today despite Richard Johnson taking the ride.

10 MCKENZIE’S FRIEND – Started off with promise for Oliver Sherwood when easily winning on hurdling debut at Plumpton in December 2015 (2m 4f, Soft) but has struggled since returning this season. He’s been well beaten on both occasions including over C&D on his penultimate start and he’s very hard to fancy with a return to heavy ground not likely to be in his favour. Others have far more convincing claims and he’s best left alone until showing some form.

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