This is a good quality Class 3 hurdle raced over just under 3 miles, see our betting tips and the full race preview below.
IN SUMMARY: SAM RED has the best recent form of these and should improve again now making his third start for Dan Skelton. He’s giving weight away to all his opponents but he’s clearly well thought of having debuted in the Lanzarote Hurdle and he’s a fair price in this to defy a 3lb rise in the weights. NoButtaboy has a very poor run to recover from but his earlier form shouldn’t be overlooked and he could be on a nice mark with plenty of scope for improvement.
1 SAM RED – Dan Skelton’s charge was picked up for £15,000 over the summer and had an extremely difficult task on debut in the Lanzarote Hurdle at Kempton in January. His sights were lowered on his next start when he ran a great race at Wetherby, running out a 3-length second to the very well handicapped Ami Desbois and he has only gone up 3lbs for that effort. That rates as some of the best recent form in this race and if he can build on that he could be very dangerous here. The trip and going should suit perfectly although he may enjoy a good gallop to aim at and whilst Dan Skelton hasn’t been in the same form this season, he still has a 25% strike rate at Southwell and his runner has an excellent chance here.
2 KELVINGROVE – Yet to fire after four runs this season, finishing third in an 11 runner contest at Doncaster last time out. He remains on the same mark today and will need to show more to get the better of his opponents. He’s versatile in terms of ground having won on Good to Soft, Good and Good to Firm and today’s trip shouldn’t be a problem having proven his stamina over further. He’s likely to be thereabouts in the betting but his form doesn’t suggest he’s got much in hand off a mark of 131 and it may pay to look elsewhere.
3 NAUTICAL NITWIT – Has competed in a higher grade than this and did win a Class 3 handicap off just 4lbs lower last summer. There is a serious question mark as to how well-suited he will be under today’s conditions with all three of his wins coming on good or good to firm ground. Conditions are officially described as Soft, Good to Soft in places and that may just go against him here if the conditions don’t improve. He looks to be on a fair mark but racing over 2m 7f on soft ground doesn’t look as if it will suit unless they go a crawl and is opposed today.
4 NOBUTTABOY – Was bought for £12,000 following a win and placed effort in point-to-points earlier last year. He made a very good impression when beating the 136-rated Laser Light in a C&D novice hurdle in December but something was amiss when beaten out of sight in a 3-runner contest at Catterick last month. He’s got something to prove off the back of that run but will enjoy today’s conditions and will relish the 2m 7f trip. David Bass has been in good form of late with 5 wins in the last 14 days and whilst his mount will need to improve again, he has every chance of doing so off a small break and is respected.
5 MINSTERLS GALLERY – Dual code performer having recorded victories over hurdles and on the flat. He’s run respectably on his last two starts and the handicapper leaves him unchanged on a mark of 128 having looked to have found his optimum mark. He’s never won off 128 and will require more improvement to get his head in front in this now stepping up in trip. Conditions shouldn’t be too testing but it’s hard to know what to expect now he races over 3 furlongs further than ever before. Aidan Coleman gets up for the first time and Lucy Wadham has been in fine form of late with 2 winners from 7 runners in the last 14 days (£9 profit to £1 stakes) but he’s probably best watched today.
6 SAINT JOHN HENRY – Hacked up two starts ago in a conditional jockeys’ handicap over 3 miles and 2 furlongs. The handicapper was suitably impressed and raised him 7lbs for that success which dented his progression, finishing a very well beaten 7th in a Class 2 qualifier for the Pertemps Handicap at Cheltenham. This is a much easier task today and he is reunited with David Noonan but will likely need to find something more in a tricky race. He steps down in trip here which raises just a slight question mark and he remains on a career high mark with a tongue tie applied for the first time. Others make more appeal.