Our tipster Karl Hedley provides the odds for the weekend's races
1-15 BETTER ODDS WITH BETFAIR PRICE RUSH HANDICAP HURDKE – 2 M 4 F
Heath Hunter ran a good race here back in April and found only Carlton Jack too strong on that occasion. He enjoys getting his toe in and that should not be an issue this afternoon. He has proven in the past that he is more than capable of going well first time out and Tom Scudamore bids to record a first win on the seven year old gelding.
Morito Du Berlais was an emphatic winner at Cheltenham last weekend and provided this race does not come too soon, he could well prove the main opposition to the selection. He stays further than this trip so stamina is assured and he may well make the most of the weight concessions that he receives from all bar one rival. Sam Twiston-Davies is once again on board and he also has to be high on any shortlist.
Dawalan has improved with each run this season but whilst he always runs a good race he always seems to find at least one too good. On Tour and Run Ructions Run seems to need a bit more better ground than seems likely whilst Meadowcroft Boy makes his first appearance on the racetrack in almost two years and his fitness has to be taken on trust.
Heath Hunter has relatively few miles on the clock and it is not impossible that he can improve again this season. David Pipe does well with his runners at this track and it would be of little surprise to see Heath Hunter doing all of his best work in the closing stages.
1-30 TRISOFT MARES HANDICAP HURDLE – 2 M 6 F
Woodland Walk is unfortunate not to have won more than one race in her career so far. She showed in her most recent start at Wincanton that she was no back number when a good third to the Nicky Henderson trained Polly Peachum. She only just tired in the closing stages having made a bold attempt to make all. She is well worth another go at this trip and if allowed an easy lead on soft ground she may well prove hard to catch.
Dark Spirit ran a cracking race at Cheltenham last weekend when just beaten on the line by Unique De Cotte. She is certainly in the form of her life and she has to be respected. Adam Wedge takes over in the saddle from Conor Ring and the duo may well pose a menace if handling this rain softened ground.
Spartan Angel could well be anything and has won three of her four starts for Nicky Henderson. Two of those came in low grade bumpers before she made the successful transition to hurdles last spring. This is her first run back but she is unlikely to be found wanting for fitness. She is completely unexposed and whatever she does today she will improve upon.
Woodland Walk has vastly more experience though and can put it to good use. Emma Lavelle looks to have found a good opportunity for her mare and she looks destined to go well despite the pressure of being top-weight.
2-25 BETFAIR “THIS IS PLAY” FIXED BRUSH HANDICAP HURDLE (GRADE 3) – 3 MILES
Aubusson made a pleasing reappearance at Chepstow for Nick Williams in a similar event last month. He is set to be partnered once again by talented amateur Lizzie Kelly who can take a useful seven pounds off his back. She has already ridden him to victories at Cheltenham and Chepstow in the past and they readily saw off the attentions of Vieux Lion Rouges last time and can confirm that form. This step up to three miles should suit this son of Ballingarry and he can enhance the excellent recent record that five year olds have in this particular race. Aubusson goes well with plenty of give underfoot and the more rain that falls, the more obvious is his chance.
Volnay De Thaix has four wins from only six career starts to date and again he won on his seasonal debut with any amount in hand. He has been severely punished by the handicapper as a result and finds himself giving weight away all around this afternoon.
Barry Geraghty knows him inside out and if like the selection improving for the step up in trip, he looks sure to be involved at the finish despite his welter burden. Phillip Hobbs is firing on all cylinders at present and sends two into battle here. Big Easy is prone to the odd error and had a hard race at Cheltenham last week. Whilst he will appreciate this slight reduction in distance it is worth bearing that in mind.
Uncle Jimmy has made the frame in both of his starts this season and whilst he is proven under these conditions, he looks up against it here against rivals who have beaten him out of sight in the past. Aubusson is still only lightly raced compared to his rivals and there could be any amount of improvement to come. Nick Williams does well with this type of horse and they are very capable of making their presence known.
3-00 BETFAIR CHASE (GRADE 1) – 3 M 1 F
Harry Topper has won first time out for the last three seasons including when landing the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby last year over this same trip. He revels in the mud and Jason Maguire has been on board for his last three wins. He contested the Midlands Grand National at Uttoxeter back in April, but there were valid excuses for his poor run and he can easily be forgiven. The ground had turned against him on that occasion forcing him to make an uncharacteristic mistake at the second fence from which he could never recover and he was pulled up.
Silviniaco Conti was beaten by Cue Card in this race last season and Paul Nicholls has insisted that he will only get better as he gets older. Whilst his seasonal reappearance was very much needed he is expected to come on in leaps and bounds for it. He has won and been placed in this race in the past, so it is likely that this will have been a primary target for him this season. He has to command respect back on this track.
Cue Card won this race last year and his seasonal reappearance should have him pretty much spot on fitness wise. It is a concern that has not won a race since but he does have the beating of a few of these including Menorah and Dynaste. His inability to see out his other races last year raises question marks though and has to be a cause for concern. Kim Bailey has his yard in great form this season and given that he is very much at home on this sort of ground, Harry Topper can give a bold account at a decent price.
|SATURDAY 1-15 HAYDOCK||HEATH HUNTER|
|SATURDAY 1-30 ASCOT||WOODLAND WALK|
|SATURDAY 2-20 HAYDOCK||AUBUSSON|
|SATURDAY 3-00 HAYDOCK||HARRY TOPPER|