A field of eight go to post for the fourth race of the day at Wetherby on Tuesday, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: Despite being at the age of twelve, LIGHTENING ROD continued to prove that age is no barrier when a good second at Catterick on his latest start in January. A four time hurdler winner here at Wetherby, he clearly loves the course and is likely to improve for that first run over fences this season for the in form Michael Easterby team. Retaining the services of Brian Hughes, he remains on this potentially handy mark and can exploit it today to take victory at the expense of Unzing, who needs to return to form down markedly in trip.
1 PLAISIR D’AMOUR – Twice a winner in France over hurdles but didn’t create the best impression when pulling up at Uttoxeter in January, weakening rapidly on her first run since April 2016 (2m 6f, Heavy). Drops back markedly in trip and should strip fitter for that run, so does remain of interest for the inform Venetia Williams team with Liam Treadwell taking the ride. Not one to discount just yet and has to be respected, though does need more today.
2 OSCATARA – First time cheekpieces prompted some improvement when bouncing back from a very poor spell to finish third at Catterick in December (1m 7f, Good to Soft). He drops another pound for that run and has similar conditions for today’s race, though he is still 3lb above his last winning mark. Donald McCain’s yard remain in brilliant form with seven winners from their last twenty seven and rider Will Kennedy is also riding brilliantly, but he does need more if he’s to take this. Likely to be involved for placings but others do make more appeal.
3 UNZING – Took his record to three wins from fifteen over fences when winning at Market Rasen on Boxing Day (2m 1f, Good to Soft), though off a 5lb higher mark he was well held at the same venue upped in trip last time out (2m 5f, Soft). Likely to be much better suited now back to this trip with the ground perfectly to suit, which makes him a leading contender today now dropped a pound in the handicap. Needs more though off this mark but has to be respected for Charles Pogson.
4 GREY LIFE – A winner of a 7lb higher mark in April 2015 but things have gone majorly wrong this season, well beaten on four occasions for Laura Morgan. Last two efforts at Chepstow and Southwell have been particularly poor and it’s very hard to make a case for him on what he’s shown this season. Becoming very well handicapped, but that is for a reason and despite rider Richie McLernon having several winners of late, he’s dismissed today.
5 LIGHTENING ROD – Twelve year old who continues to run admirably despite his age, and turned in another good effort when second at Catterick in January (1m 7f, Good to Soft). He remains on the same mark for today’s run which makes him very interesting, with Michael Easterby’s yard going brilliantly at present and booked rider Brian Hughes needing no introduction this season. The previously referenced mark of 112 looks to be one he can easily overcome as he should improve from his first run over fences this season, and has to be respected today.
6 WITNESS – Winner over fences in France when with the Dondi yard but is zero from five in Britain for Micky Hammond, showing promise on occasions but unable to hit the frame on any of those runs. Pulled up when last seen at Catterick on New Year’s Day (2m 3f, Good to Soft) and seems firmly on the back foot for today’s assignment. Likely to need much more under 5lb claimer Finian O’Toole and others make far more appeal today, though can’t be discounted for the final place with how mediocre some of these are.
7 CHESTNUT BEN – Has gotten back on track on his last three starts and finally got back into the winners enclosure with a narrow success at Sedgefield two weeks ago (2m, Soft). Raised 4lb for that run but he’s still well handicapped as he was a winner off a 9lb higher mark in February 2016 at Musselburgh (2m, Soft). Ground and trip are fine today and the Peter Wink’s yard are firing on all cylinders at present, with two winners from their last four winners. 7lb claimer Ryan Winks has had two winners from his last three rides and all signs point to another good effort from this likeable twelve year old, and he has to be respected.
8 GROOMED – Has been a poor season on the whole for this nine year old whose only stand out performance remains a surprise win at Newcastle in December (2m, Soft), though he has been tailed off and pulled up in two subsequent efforts. Now back to a pound above his last winning mark and has won off higher marks in the past, but his record this season is too patchy to be able to get excited about. Sue Smith’s yard continues to have winners, but this would be a surprise one under Seasn Quinlan and others have far more pressing claims.