After two weeks of isolation at home it was brilliant to be back on the racecourse at Leicester on Monday afternoon. I was in danger of going stir-crazy stuck indoors, though the quality of action on Racing TV at the end of last week made sure the last few days of being locked up passed fairly quickly.
I won’t spend too much time analysing the action from the likes of Cheltenham as that will be done in detail elsewhere (anyone else looking forward to the return of The Road To Cheltenham?) though I am putting forward a handicap chaser of interest from that meeting.
As for horses mentioned previously that hold entries for this week ahead, there aren't too many of them, though Grey D’Ars has been declared for Kempton Park on Wednesday evening and looks of interest despite it being a fairly competitive race for the grade featuring a couple of other potentially well-handicapped horses. Click here for the runners, riders and live odds.
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Also entered this week is our own bumper horse Flammarion and he has reportedly improved in his work since making a winning debut at Ayr which makes a potential visit to Catterick on Friday something to look forward to.
Demon Fou – Jeremy Scott
Demon Fou has struggled for form since producing a string of solid efforts at around this time last year but his handicap mark has slipped as a result and there were signs of encouragement at Exeter last week.
He ultimately seemed stretched by the near-three-mile trip that day but moved through the race well and looks back in form. Ideally suited by ground good to soft or quicker, he’s one for the shortlist next time if dropped back in trip slightly.
Bigirononhiship – Rose Dobbin
Bigirononhiship hit top form around this time last year and suggested he could add to those victories when returning to action with a good second at Ayr last week.
Beaten by the progressive Crixus’s Escape he travelled through the race like a horse who still has handicapping scope, something that’s likely to be realised when stepping back up in trip, perhaps in a repeat bid for the Scottish Borders National at Kelso next month.
Lamanver Pippin – Colin Tizzard
As is often the case on the Old Course at Cheltenham, the feature of a number of the chases was the good performance of those racing on the pace, so it’s to his credit that Lamanver Pippin fared best of those from off the pace in the race won by Storm Control on Saturday.
Ridden with patience early, he did move closer a good way from home but could never quite get to the all-the-way winner, perhaps the lack of a recent run eventually catching him out as much as anything. Either way, he looks a horse with handicapping potential, especially when the ground is testing.
Secret Court – Sam Allwood
Sam Allwood is making a good impression as a trainer and despite failing to complete on her first start for the yard at Leicester on Monday, Secret Court showed enough to suggest she could have a fruitful campaign for her new yard.
Picked up for £15,000 after showing minor promise for Robin Dickin, she was catching the eye with the way she was moving through the race up until the point she was badly hampered by a faller in the back straight.
She then made good progress to get back into the race, but that effort and the lack of a recent run seemed to be taking its toll prior to unseating her rider three out. She might prove suited by a slight drop in trip given the way she travelled but is well worth close consideration when she next runs.
Breffniboy landed a quick-fire hat-trick in reasonably comfortable fashion at Leicester on Tuesday, beating some in-form and well handicapped horses in a race that seems likely to prove strong form for the grade.
The winner was well-in under his penalty for a recent win at Exeter, while the second and third home, Chazza and When You’re Ready had both won novice races on their previous outing and look open to further progress.
The only one of the first five home not to have won last time was fourth-placed Ardmayle who boasts a good record at the track, is on a handy mark and had run well on ground quicker than ideal on his previous start.
Fifth-placed Present From Dubai also appeals as attractively handicapped, but may need time between his races, while Henri Le Bon who completed in sixth, raced more towards the unfavoured inside of the track and could soon be competitive with this run likely to bring him forward. All things considered, I expect this is a race that should throw up winners.
The general theme of this column is to highlight horses who may be of interest on the back of a good run or shaping as if coming back to form, but I thought a worthwhile addition when a horse fits the bill is to highlight an interesting horse who has bombed out on its most recent start yet had a valid excuse and may slip under the radar next time.
Crack Du Ninian fits that profile as he looked a horse to keep on side when winning impressively at Uttoxeter in late October. He was disappointing at Ayr next time but I’m unconvinced he stayed the trip, while it could have been the case that the race came too soon. Either way, based on his previous profile I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win more races this season, while longer term he’ll make a better chaser than hurdler.
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