3.15pm Stratford Tips & Betting Preview 13/03/2017

A field of nine go to post for a competitive looking two mile handicap hurdle at Stratford on Monday, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.

IN SUMMARY: Midnight Maestro is of obvious interest on handicap debut starting off on a mark of 120 and has to be respected, but this can go to C&D winner BLEU ET NOIR. Also making his handicap debut, he looks to be the only pace angle in the race and should be allowed a soft lead from the front. A mark of 130 on handicap debut isn’t excessive and Richard Johnson will give him the best possible chance of victory, so he has to be respected for the in form Tim Vaughan team.

1 BLEU ET NOIR – C&D winner who has won three times over hurdles, making all at Newton Abbot on his penultimate start in novice company, never looking in much danger throughout (2m, Good to Firm). On his latest start at Warwick, he had been headed and was starting to weaken in third when falling at the final hurdle (2m, Good), too keen early on. Makes his handicap debut off a mark of 130 which is interesting and with the champion jockey Richard Johnson on board, he’ll be given the best possible ride from the front. Has to be respected and looks likely to run a big race, especially as he looks to be the only pace angle in the race.

2 LATE NIGHT LILY – Four time winner over hurdles, winning on handicap debut at Southwell in December by ten lengths (1m 7f, Good to Soft). She understandably found Grade 2 company far too tough when well beaten by Vroum Vroum Mag in the Doncaster Mares Hurdle (2m, Good) and returns to handicap company off a mark of 128. She is likely to be able to damage off that mark in time but this looks to be a much tougher race than the handicap she won on her penultimate start. Unlikely to be far away for the inform Skelton pairing but others are higher up the list on this occasion.

3 SLEEP HAVEN – Perhaps the most exposed in the field and he hasn’t been at his best the last twice, brushed aside at Newcastle on his latest start (2m, Heavy). Down in class but this looks a competitive race for the class and he may well be vulnerable off a mark of 127, which is still 3lb above his last winning mark. He’ll appreciate conditions and the Jennie Candlish yard couldn’t be in better form, but that isn’t enough to tempt and others are readily preferred.

4 EL BEAU – First run over hurdles since March 2016 when a poor eighth at Wetherby in December (2m, Good to Soft) and as a result the handicapper has dropped him 3lb. Yet to win in handicap company though and will need to step up massively on his latest start if he’s to be threatening in a competitive looking race. Possibly each way claims at his best in contentions that will suit but looks vulnerable for win purposes.

5 BROTHERLY COMPANY – Twice a winner last spring, winning at Kempton back in May (2m Good) off a 8lb lower mark. He wasn’t however disgraced off a 2lb higher mark than today’s back in July when second here over C&D, but has been soundly beaten on both his starts since August. His latest fifth at Plumpton was a particularly poor one, jumping poorly and weakening rapidly when asked for an effort (1m 7f, Good to Firm). Down in class though and has been dropped 3lb in the weights, but could resume his progress if the 176 day absence hasn’t caused a problem. Each way claims but others make more appeal for win purposes.

6 WORKBENCH – Well treated on the best of his chasing form but has a lot to prove at present, well beaten on all his starts this season. His latest hurdling run was his penultimate start at Taunton, well beaten and unable to land a blow (albeit in a better race than this). Down two classes from that run and now down to a mark of 120, but he needs to raise his game if he’s to be in any sort of threat in this. Risky and others are readily preferred again.

7 MIDNIGHT MAESTRO – Thrice raced over hurdles, winning on hurdling debut at Warwick (2m, Good to Soft) in good style back in November. His latest start at Wincanton was another good display when narrowly denied by Sir Antony Browne and a opening mark of 120 could well underestimate his potential. Today’s conditions will suit and the Alan King’s yard remains in good form at present, so he looks a likely main contender and has to be respected for powerful connections.

8 KINNITY CASTLE – Pulled up on his last four starts, with his latest run at Naas another very poor display when quickly pulled up when beaten. Now down to a mark of 104 which is 5lb below his opening mark in handicaps, but he has shown nothing of note on any hurdling starts and is impossible to recommend in this. However, he does run for the very shrewd Tony Martin yard and any market support should be taken very seriously.

9 BARRYS JACK – Sole win thus far over hurdles occurred in Ireland when with the Coffey yard, winning well at Limerick over a much longer trip (2m 5f, Soft to Heavy). First run for Brian Ellison today off a mark of 103, which is 13lb above his last winning mark and 6lb higher than when well beaten at Naas in January (2m, Soft). Looks to have it all to do on stable debut and others are readily preferred, though watching the market will be crucial.

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