Quite a competitive handicap hurdle for August and one where plenty of the top stables have a representative. Our full race preview and selection are below for the 6.40pm at Worcester tonight.
IN SUMMARY: Trainer Peter Bowen has spotted this race and noted that COURT KING is better handicapped over hurdles now and has even added a tongue tie to aid his breathing. He looks to be the one to beat with Sean Bowen in the saddle with Scoop The Pot the one to watch for future reference.
1 SCOOP THE POT – Seems a fragile sort with just the seven races so far at the age of seven. Trained by the excellent Philip Hobbs, and owned by the legendary J P McManus, he did win his second start in a novice hurdle at Leicester in February 2015 but hasn’t won again in five starts since. Last seen finishing fifth to Desert Cry at Bangor, beaten twenty lengths at the line, he has been dropped four pounds for that and the fact that they persevere with him suggests he still retains plenty of ability. Interesting if the market speaks in his favour.
2 SPORTING BOY – Reverts to hurdles after four races over fences, and hasn’t been seen on the racecourse since July 2015 when he finished fifth of weight to Danandy over close to this trip at Stratford. Ran off a rating of 127 that day and races off a mark seven pounds lower over hurdles today, though the fact that the John Farrelly stable are without a winner in the last two weeks has to be of some concern to his supporters.
3 COURT KING – Looking for his hat-trick here for trainer Peter Bowen and jockey Sean after two victories over fences at Southwell. A tongue tie is added for the first time this evening as he returns to the smaller obstacles where he runs off 119 as opposed to the 124 he has to carry next time over fences. Looks to have a very serious chance here if he can take his hurdles at the appropriate speed for a stable in good form with five winners from their last sixteen runners (31%).
4 KALIFOURCHON – Trainer David Pipe is having a quiet spell with the four unsuccessful runners in the last fourteen days but will expect this six-year-old grey to improve for his first run in eight months when a six length second to Western Miller at Market Rasen over two and a half miles. His fourth and last win was over this trip at Market Rasen in a better race in July last year off a rating of 120 so he cannot be ignored off of 118 today but hasn’t looked at his best in recent outings.
5 SUPREME STEEL – Another winner last time out, this time for trainer Dr Richard Newland who has had five winners from just the fifteen runners in the last two weeks for a 33% success rate but a small level stakes loss. He had to be hard driven by Sam Twiston-Davies to win by a length and a quarter that day and has been put up eight pounds for his sins and although he is improving, that may well be enough to stop him from winning here.
6 LADY OF LONGSTONE – The second David Pipe runner here and possibly the second string with David Noonan riding. Three runs this season have seen a third at Uttoxeter over two and a half miles as the clear peak, and a sixteen and a half length sixth of ten at the same track when stepped up to this sort of trip. She has won over course and distance in October 2015 off a rating of 95 but has to carry 115 this evening and good as she can be, others do seem to have better chances at these weights.
7 ALTESSE DE GUYE – Rounded off 2016 with two second spots over fences at Uttoxeter and Taunton and was last seen over hurdles finishing fifth to Behind Time at Cheltenham last November. He has won off a mark of 113 so cannot be discounted off just two pounds higher here though seven months off the track cannot be seen as a positive. Trainer Martin Keighley has had one winner from just the six recent runners (17%) but will do well to win this as he seems sure to lack race fitness here.
8 DOITFORJOE – His one win from seven starts over hurdles was at Southwell over three miles in August 2016 but his more recent exploits have been over fences with a six length fifth to Dream Boat at newton Abbot in May his best effort. Last time out he finished fourth at Stratford but twenty-two lengths adrift of the winner and at this moment in time he arrives here with an awful lot to prove.
9 A BOY NAMED SUZI – Trained by Lucy Wadham who is going through a really quiet patch with just the two recent runners and just the one winner from fifteen runners this season, the nine-year-old gelding ran really well last time out when fourth to Slim Pickens over course and distance, beaten just the length and three quarters at the line. Harry Skelton rides him again, for the third race in a row and off the same handicap mark this evening he looks to have a good each way chance at a double figure price.
10 OVER THE AIR – Third in his last two races, both here with the first over course and distance, the second over shorter. Last time out over two and a half miles he ran on strongly despite his run being blocked but his earlier effort saw him weaken late on so he may need two miles five to be seen at his peak though he has won over three miles and is sending out conflicting signals. Nico de Boinville gets on particularly well with the nine-year-old and he could well take third again here if held up until the last moment.
11 GENEROUS CHIEF – Seven races since his last victory at Southwell over three miles last July with the seven pound rise in the handicaps closely followed by more rises after some decent placed efforts. Last time out he found 111 and the extended trip too much for him when a well beaten seventh of eight at Newton Abbot over three and a quarter miles plus. Rousted along quite early that day he wasn’t seen at his best, but dropped back in trip could well threaten the places one again.
12 SHEER POETRY – Ran his best race in some time when a short head second here over course and distance last month even after jockey Conor O’Farrell dropped his reigns close home. He may well have won that day but sadly for trainer Richard Woollacott it wasn’t to be and he will try to put that right this afternoon with Daryl Jacob taking over in the saddle. The handicapper has put him up five pounds for that run and his best chance for some time may well have now gone until the handicapper relents once again.