£20,000 is up for grabs in this competitive 2m4f Class 2 handicap hurdle on Sunday’s Carlisle card. Read our full race preview for our experts’ betting tips.
IN SUMMARY: Waking In The Air signed off with a very convincing maiden win in March and makes plenty of appeal on today’s handicap debut but a better-value option could be ONEFITZALL. Philip Hobbs’ gelding has a point to prove after consecutive defeats as a warm favourite last season but he broke a blood vessel on the more recent occasion and retains significant potential to build on his quite impressive hurdle-debut success at Uttoxeter a year ago. Definitly Red won a Listed handicap chase on his latest outing in April and could be well handicapped back over hurdles. Sergeant Mattie has been absent since October 2014 but there’s every chance Charlie Longsdon will have him fit enough to do himself justice, and he completes the shortlist.
1 Shades Of Midnight – Won twice on heavy ground in February/March (2m6f/2m4f) and signed off with very creditable second to yesterday’s Grade 2 winner Silsol at Kelso (3m2f, good to soft) in April; open to further progress this season but might find this an inadequate stamina test and could be one for another day.
2 Definitly Red – Runner-up in a valuable ‘Fixed Brush’ handicap hurdle at Haydock (2m7f, soft) last November and took well to fences after the turn of the year; won a Listed handicap chase at the Scottish Grand National meeting at Ayr (2m4f, soft) when last seen in April and is a major player back in this sphere if fully tuned up.
3 Upsilon Bleu – Better known as a chaser now and collected a decent prize in good style at Doncaster (2m, soft) in March; runs off a 3lb lower hurdle mark here and will be fine over today’s trip; could have a say if ready to rumble after 197-day break.
4 Top Billing – Pulled up in a chase on final start last season and weakened to finish down the field after making the running when back in action over hurdles last month; may have needed that outing but has done all his winning at around 3m and others have less to prove.
5 Jennys Melody – Completed a hat-trick over hurdles in February-April 2015, the latest success gained on handicap debut at Ayr (3m, good) off mark 4lb lower than today’s; further progress certainly not out of the question but it takes a leap of faith to support her on first start for 562 days.
6 Sergeant Mattie – Won a 2m4f beginners’ chase in October 2014 but been absent since a lesser effort over fences later that month; remains lightly raced and trainer typically has his horses fit enough to run well after a layoff, but it’s not easy to predict how this gelding will fare back over hurdles.
7 Onefitzall – Won a Uttoxeter bumper by a wide margin in late 2014 and created good impression when scoring there (2m4f, good to soft) on hurdle debut a year ago; beaten favourite on both subsequent outings but had valid excuse on more recent occasion (broke blood vessel) and is very much of interest now switched to a handicap.
8 Island Heights – Began last season with two wins in the autumn (2m5f/2m7f) and both his subsequent runs were perfectly respectable; can evidently go well fresh but will need to return from 281-day absence with a new career-best performance to have any chance off current mark.
9 Walking In The Air – Point/bumper winner who came good over hurdles at the fourth attempt, with 11l success in Warwick maiden (2m5f, good) in March; faces much tougher opposition in this handicap but has plenty of scope for progress this year and needs to be taken very seriously.
10 Allbarnone – Pushed out to get off the mark over hurdles at Cartmel (2m6f, good) in May, his 12th start in this sphere, and also ran well when second back there on latest outing in July; another 3lb higher today, though, and form from that track doesn’t always transfer to other venues.
11 Amiral Collonges – Won three times over fences when trained in France and was also successful over hurdles at Ascot (2m7f, good to soft) in December, his second run for James Evans; didn’t run badly when fourth over 3m on latest outing at Southwell in February but others have more pressing claims here.
myracing Forecast Prices: 7/2 Walking In The Air, 9/2 Onefitzall, 5/1 Definitly Red, 8/1 Sergeant Mattie, 10/1 Shades Of Midnight, Jennys Melody, Allbarnone, 12/1 Island Heights, 14/1 Upsilon Bleu, 16/1 Amiral Collonges, 20/1 Top Billing