Race Time: 3.50pm Meeting: Perth Day: Thursday 24th September Distance: 2m 4f 35yds
Full Race Name: Strongbow Dark Fruit Scottish Hurdle Series Final (A Novices’ Handicap Hurdle) Class Two
Popular trainer Nigel Twiston-Davies has won this race no less than four times in the last ten years so we were bitterly disappointed to see him without an entry in 2015, but Gordon Elliott is next best in with two victories (in 2007 and 2012), and he looks likely to send Be Seeing You (7/2) for the £15,000 guaranteed prize fund, with Richard Johnson an early and eye catching jockey booking. Statistically, no four year old has won this race in the last ten years which isn’t good, but then again he may have more room for improvement than his older rivals, and his yard are very astute when it comes to sending their challengers over to steal our prize money! A 30% strike rate and level stake profits of over £20 to a £1 stake in the last five years is testament to that statement, so what do we think of the horse? He did win over this trip at Bellewstown in July but was put up eleven pounds for that victory and has struggled in both races since and may well be in the handicapper’s grasp. Last time out he finished sixth of elven to Jarob (beaten thirteen and a half lengths), and somehow got put up another two pounds for that (?), and unless the market suggests otherwise, we think he could have too much weight to carry this afternoon. The 2014 renewal was won by Baileys Concerto for Cumbrian trainer Dianne Sayer, and she sends Ronaldhino (12/1) here has she looks to double up. Fifteen races over hurdles have yet to see the five year old pass the post in front, with three seconds and two thirds the best he can offer up and we have to doubt that he can get off the mark at the sixteenth attempt in such a competitive contest. Johnny Go (9/1) has to run from out of the weights as do half the field thanks to the race conditions, but even with an extra couple of pounds he could run well without winning. His recent form of second third second first fourth makes good reading for both his supporters and owners and although outclassed on all know form, he does run off a featherweight and could surprise a few though surely not the main contenders?
Moving swiftly on, the most in form contender looks to be Maraweh (5/1) who has won his last two races here, though both were over half a mile further. His stamina certainly looked to be what got him home in front on both occasions more than his speed, and courageous as he obviously is, that may not be enough this afternoon against some of the speedier rivals who could flash past him when he least expects it. One of those seems very likely to be top weight Sharp Rise (5/1) who may well be able to shrug off his eleven stone twelve burden with James Reveley expected to ride him for the fifth time. Although he has won a three mile point to point, both his chase wins and both his hurdling successes were over two and a half miles or so, three of them at Sedgefield and one over course and distance here at Perth. His official rating of 130 is actually pretty generous when you consider he was ten lengths in front of Father Edward at level weights here, yet the third that day has won since and is still rated 130, so go figure?