Race Time: 3.15pm Meeting: Wetherby Day: Saturday 14th November
Distance: 2m Full Race Name: Totepoolloveinfo.com Handicap Hurdle (Qualifier for the Challenger Two Mile Hurdle Series Final) Class Three
One of the hardest races to solve by the look of it despite a very competitive Cheltenham card, but it is often sensible to start with the top weight in a handicap (after all, they are the best horse), and in this case that means the Tom Symonds trained Hollywoodien (12/1), a mere four year old with room to mature and get better with age. A French bred with a win at Fontainbleau and two places at Pau to his name, that form is difficult to assess back in the United Kingdom with nothing collateral to go on, but we do know for a fact that he has some ability and the necessary will to win to get his head in front when the right opportunity arises. He may well need the run as his new trainer looks to work out what he needs to reach his peak – or he could be thrown in at the weights and bolt up this afternoon, sadly only time will tell for certain on that one.
Trainer John Quinn won the race last season with Forced Family Fun and will be looking to double up this afternoon with Arthurs Secret (7/1) who comes here race fit after finishing five lengths eighth at Redcar on the flat last month and has got winning hurdling form at Musselburgh over further, though we are quite wary that he may find this two miles a bit too short. Competing and winning over two miles or so on the flat they may be a bit too quick for him this afternoon at the minimum two miles over hurdles, but will be running on – one for a place maybe but a very unlikely winner.
If that summary is correct, then maybe Kentucky Star (8/1) will oblige for the same trainer but is still a big question mark over this trip. More of an unknown quality, he won in Ireland for trainer Denise Foster before changing yards to his new Yorkshire base after which he was ninth of eleven at Stratford over two and a quarter miles when he was tailed off and eased late on in the race. Again his only win is over a lot further so we cannot work out why they would drop him back in trip today, and unless they know something that we don’t, he is another battling it out for a place at best.
One outsider that does catch the eye though is the Michael Smith trained Makbullet (25/1) who is potentially very well handicapped if they can get him back to his best with hurdles possibly the last throw of the dice. His recent runs on the flat haven’t been up to scratch with a twelfth of fifteen at Newcastle when last seen in action, but looking back at his hurdling form from 2012 and he was winning and placing off ratings of 117, 118, and 128 there and gets in here off of 113 having only had the one race over obstacles since when well beaten at Aintree. In all honesty, he looks to be going backwards but off of his new mark he could get in to the mix and we won’t be putting anyone off if they fancy a little each way at a massive price.
Lastly, Kayf Blanco (8/1) looks as if has been brought to the boil ready for this event by trainer Graeme McPherson after a perfectly respectable third to Cooper at Wetherby, who he meets on six pounds better terms this afternoon for less than four lengths. That should make it pretty close on paper between the two and even though we feel the younger horse may still have his measure, he could still run in to a place at a big price and does look as if he has been targetted at this particular contest, and what more can you ask for in a bet?