Well the forecast in my preview of Day 1 didn’t quite go to plan yesterday; you live and learn! The opening three races on today’s card are Mares Listed races which is something a bit different, but look like they could pose a few problems.
2.05 Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (Listed)
Dusky Legend and Verdana Blue finished third and fourth respectively in the Mares Novices’ Hurdle at the festival with Coillte Lass well back in the field. Based on that run it is very difficult to split the first two. Coillte Lass actually beat Dusky Legend relatively comfortably at Taunton earlier in the season and can be excused for her run last month as Paul Nicholls’ yard wasn’t exactly flying.
Deauville Crystal is an improving four year old who won twice in six days at the end on March and deserves her chance with the step in distance likely to suit. However, this ground is probably quick enough for her and she might want it a bit softer. Casablanca Mix is having her first run for Nicky Henderson since coming over from France. The yard is in good form and it would be no surprise should she out run her odds.
Brillare Momento is unexposed for Martin Keighley and both her runs on good ground have been very encouraging. Her first was on stable debut where she finished a neck runner up and the second was last time out when she won comfortably and this distance should be ideal.
2.40 EBF/Thoroughbred Breeders’ Association Mares’ Novices’ Handicap Chase (Listed)
Carrying top weight, Antartica De Thaix is favourite and deservedly so when looking at her latest three victories. An aggregate winning distance of eighty lengths from those wins is very impressive and she may prove far too good for these back in a handicap.
Briery Belle found life tough on New Years Day in a Grade 2 behind Whisper and was subsequently pulled up in the RSA. Back in amongst her own sex here she should prove far better and 7/1 could make her overpriced.
Magic Money was brave when winning at Haydock at the weekend but this is only five days later and against much better opposition looks up against it. Plaisir D’Amour has won twice since joining Venetia Williams, was pulled up over a furlong further than this trip on heavy ground but this sounder surface will help.
3.15 Catesby Property Group PLC Mares’ Handicap Hurdle (Listed)
A fourth in the Mares Hurdle at the festival was a top performance by Indian Stream and she has gone up 7lb for that, but she did win a chase off a mark of 2lbs lower than this one so it’s not as harsh as it first looks. She does have to concede plenty of weight all round though and that will be tough. Snow Leopardess won really nicely last time and has improved steadily this season, but she has been raised 12lb for that win which does look a bit excessive. Softer ground would also be more ideal.
It may pay to stick to the top of the weights here and as well the aforementioned pair, Midnight Tour is up there. She wasn’t disgraced at the Cheltenham Festival and has run well on good ground previously.
Others to note may be Carnspindle who is in good form seeking a hat-trick and seemed to enjoy the step up in trip last time out. On Demand had been extremely consistent for Colin Tizzard until disappointing in the Mares Novices’ Hurdle at last time, but a return to this trip should suit her.
3.50 Llewellyn Humphreys Handicap Chase (Class 2)
Most of these come into this out of form, Upswing is the only one coming in on the back of a win. However, he has been raised 7lb for a head victory. The front two were a long way clear of the third though and a repeat of that could be enough amongst out of sorts rivals.
Virak has consistently been dropping down the weights this year, but even off a mark of 144 he looks vulnerable considering how little promise he has shown this season. This is a drop in class though and if a hint of his old self returns then he must stand a chance. Lamb Or Cod won here in December and is only 3lbs higher today but has massively disappointed in his last three and needs to bounce back.
Back on good ground Belmount could show himself in better light. Since winning twice on a sound surface at the start of the season Nigel Twiston-Davies’ charge has lost his way on winter ground and gets in off a low weight.
4.20 Kingston Stud Supporting The IJF Handicap Hurdle (Class 2)
Mr Clarkson arrives here in great spirits having won four of his last six starts and if staying this longer trip is a major player, but yard from would be a concern. Two Swallows has also been running well recently and beat some decent sorts at Taunton, but the same comment can be made regarding the yard form.
Duke Street was running well prior to finishing down the field at Aintree. His fourth to Brio Conti at Kempton is a decent bit of form and if staying the trip could be in with a shout. Solomon Grundy was behind Duke Street in that race but was hampered and with Noel Fehily on board can give a good account.
4.55 Nicholson Holman Chase (Class 3)
Boa Island got back on track at Chepstow last time and has cheekpieces applied for the first time here. He’ll like the ground but a 7lb rise for that latest win seems harsh. Mr Shantu has won his only previous start over fences and has been given an opening mark of 132 which is the same as he is over hurdles. He is generally consistent and this good ground will play to his strengths.
Fact Of The Matter won at Exeter two starts ago and that form has been franked as the second and third have both won since. An 8lb rise for that doesn’t look unreasonable, he hasn’t been seen since November and if starting where he left off can go close. Swincombe Scorchio finished second to Rock The Kasbah on his penultimate smart at a whopping 100/1 and then backed that up with an easy win last time, he has gone up 15lb but is clearly a rapid improver.
Ten Sixty has only had three starts over fences and he got off the mark last time out at Newbury where he beat Global Dream, who was on a hat-trick that day and has since finished second again off 2lbs higher so that form is good. If being able to reproduce that then he is probably the one to beat.
5.30 Spreadex Sports Betting Mares’ Standard Open National Hunt Flat Race (Class 4)
Melangerie was way back in her first two starts behind the subsequent Aintree Mares Bumper first and second, she showed improvement to win at the third time of asking but has a 6lb penalty to contend with.
Pique Rock made her debut in a Listed race but couldn’t build on that in a weaker event next time and a hood is reached for. Grania O’Malley finished second on debut and wouldn’t need to find too much improvement to be involved.
Llewellyn Humphreys Handicap Chase (3.50PM, Thursday 20th April): 1pt each way Belmount (9/1 general)