Eight runners go to post for the fourth race of the day at Southwell on Monday, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Considering he was returning from a near two year absence, MALAPIE did himself huge amount of credit when second behind subsequent winner Lady Buttons here over the 2m 4f trip in January and he is likely to have come on leaps and bounds from that run. A 4lb rise looks likely to have him well handicapped as the step up in trip should only help him improve further judging buy his point to point form and pedigree. He looks the one to beat today and can see off Ballyhenry, who if getting his career back on track, will be a dangerous commodity for Ben Pauling.
1 BALLYHENRY – Unbeaten in bumpers and a novice hurdle winner, Ben Pauling’s seven year old has been incredibly disappointing since switched to handicaps over both hurdles and fences. His latest start at Doncaster three weeks ago resulted in him pulling up (3m, Good to Soft), his third heavy defeat this season. He arguably faces easier opposition today down in class with the handicapper giving him a chance, but he remains very risky until he shows some of his old spark. Conditions are to suit but he does still have stamina to prove to some degree and he can only be given place claims in this.
2 OSSIE’S DANCER – Won off a 9lb higher mark in the past so he is undoubtedly well handicapped on old form, with that win coming back in May 2015 at Plumpton. He did however miss the entirety of 2016 and although he did show some of his old spark when seventh at Huntington on his second start after a break (2m 3f, Good to Soft), it’s very hard to gauge his ability at present. Possible each way claims on how well handicapped he is but others make much more appeal.
3 GRACE TARA – Far from disgraced on handicap debut at Ffos Las two weeks ago (2m, Soft) when second and there is every chance going up in trip will suit him much better today. A point to point winner and second over the 2m 5f trip at Wincanton in novice company, she should relish this step up in trip. Michael Scudamore’s yard is running brilliantly at present and she retains the assistance of Tom Scudamore which further aides her cause. Looks booked to go very close and has to be respected, as she remains with huge amounts of potential.
4 LOUGH SALT – Won his handicap debut at Wetherby in November (3m, Good to Soft) but he has failed to build on that in three subsequent runs, falling when outpaced and looking beaten at Catterick a month ago (3m 1f, Soft). Handicapper has relented only a pound on the back of that run and he remains 9lb above that opening winning mark. Conditions are to suit and he clearly stays this trip, but he looks far from progressive, unlike some others in this lineup. Others look much more likely and he may be best left alone today.
5 POPELYS GULL – Showed some promise in novice company and hasn’t been disgraced on two runs in handicaps, finishing a close second on his latest start at Fakenham two weeks ago (2m 7f, Good to Soft). That showed improvement from his first run in handicap company and he has similar conditions for today’s run, and any further improvement is likely to see him hit the frame again for Pam Sly with the in form Kielan Woods on board.
6 MALAPIE – Returned from a near two year absence when second at Southwell behind subsequent impressive winner in Lady Buttons (2m 4f, Soft), a very pleasing return. He is likely to improve markedly on that run and he remains with huge amounts of potential as a very lightly raced nine year old for Caroline Bailey. Going up in trip is only likely to improve him as he was second in a point to point and was running on strongly on that return to action a month ago. A 4lb rise looks to have him very well handicapped and he looks likely to be tough to beat with Adam Pogson taking the ride, and he has to be respected as such.
7 SEVEN KINGDOMS – Shot clear to win a juvenile hurdle at Kempton in January 2016 (2m, Soft) but has found things much tougher in handicaps, well beaten on all four occasions. Despite finishing sixth on his latest start at Taunton, he was still beaten a long way in arguably weaker company than today’s. Looks booked for another struggle today for David Dennis despite the handicapper dropping him 4lb and is best ignored.
8 FRESH BY NATURE – Not the most consistent of horses which immediately sets off the alarm bells and although heavy ground is a viable excuse when pulling up at Sedgefield on his latest start, her sixth at Market Rasen a few weeks prior was a poor effort. Only a pound above her last winning mark but others make far more appeal and she’s hard to recommend on balance. Looking elsewhere is likely to pay dividends.