Seven runners go to post for the fifth race of the day at Kelso on Thursday, a handicap chase in foretasted very poor conditions. See our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY Sandy Thompson’s Rowdy Rocher is bang in form and likely to be on the premise but this can go to MAXIE T. A closing fourth over slightly further at Haydock on his latest start, he remains well treated on the form he showed last season and today’s conditions are perfect for a big run from Micky Hammond’s six year old. He should take all the beating if building upon that effort and perhaps his main danger could be Forty Crown, who is a previous C&D and is running consistently well of late.
1 ROWDY ROCHER – Running well lately over both codes, winning with something to spare at Ayr in January (3m, Soft) over hurdles before fending off the challenge of a horse who has since followed up in good style (2m 5f, Heavy) over fences. High in the weights as a result and now 10lb above his last winning mark over hurdles, but Rachael McDonald claiming a useful 7lb which offsets a lot of the penalty and with his form franked, he surely has to have a good chance and is respect as such.
2 TOP BILLING – Very hard horse to catch right with a good performance like his penultimate second at Ayr (2m 5f, Heavy) followed up with a dreadful one like his latest run at Warwick in January (3m 2f, Soft). He was pulled up after just eight fences that day after making a bad error, which is more like what he has typically shown this season. On his last winning mark but impossible to make a case for him with how unpredictable he is and rates as too much of a risky proposition today.
3 HARTFORTH – Caused a huge shock when rallying gamely to win at odds of 50/1 at Ayr in December (3m, Heavy), though was in no such form off 5lb higher when well held over the same C&D a few weeks later (3m, Heavy). On the same mark again today which has to be a concern despite the fact he will relish conditions, with a mark of 120 likely to be beyond him at this stage of his career. Possible place claims if back to his best but remains vulnerable for win purposes.
4 LANDECKER – All four of his wins have come at this venue, with the latest of those coming back in November off a 3lb lower mark (3m 2f, Good to Soft). That win came under Kit Alexander who was on board that day and claims 7lb, but he was well held on his latest two starts at Haydock and Musselburgh which isn’t particularly encouraging. Heavy ground is a question mark but if handling it he’d have definite place claims, but remains vulnerable in terms of the win.
5 MAXIE T – Staying on all the time when fourth at Haydock in January (2m 6f, Soft) which was an encouraging effort and he has been dropped a further pound since. He was a winner off a pound higher last season with two seconds off a 12lb higher mark too so is clearly well treated on this current mark. This heavier ground will suit and he stays this trip well as evidenced by that latest run, so should run a big race for Micky Hammond and has to be respected.
6 FORTY CROWN – C&D winner back in December off a 16lb lower mark than today’s but he’s been in good form in the two runs that have proceeded that victory. Finishing a close second at Catterick despite the 13lb rise (3m 1f, Good), the weight finally seemed to catch up with him after a further 3lb rise when held in fourth over the same C&D a few weeks later. Remains on the same mark and will need more but rates as a solid option for each way purposes in this company and this drop back in trip is likely to suit. Likely contender and is respected as such.
7 RHYMERS STONE – String of third places before coming good and winning at Newcastle on his latest start (2m 4f, Soft), keeping on well and a 5lb rise seems fair on that evidence. Takes another step up in trip which could suit but his stamina is far from assured, especially in these softer conditions. If his stamina holds out then he’d have to be considered a danger as he’s relatively lightly raced