Uncertainty over the prevailing ground conditions muddies the water to some degree for Sunday’s selections but with both Chepstow and Goodwood expecting further rain before racing it seems fair to expect some ease in conditions at both venues and therefore I’m sticking to horses who have some form under those conditions.
I mentioned last weekend that the jumping action was just starting to come back on the radar but it’s this weekend when you are forced to sit up and take note of the winter game again as the racing at Chepstow provides the first real quality jumps action of the season.
The big yards are back out in force and the more promising horses start to appear. Judging their relative form merits and trying to get a handle on what stage of readiness the reappearing runners will be at is always tricky but pinpointing the yards that are well forward or have a history of providing winners with runners off a break at this time of year can be fruitful.
I’ve gone for a couple of selections at Chepstow with that angle in mind, while at Goodwood I’ve got one from the notebook and a well handicapped course specialist to make up the full quota of four tips for the day ahead.
This looks fairly competitive but useful hurdler Debece appeals as a spot of value at the early prices.
Only 7lb inferior on official hurdles ratings to the pair that are shorter than him in the market, Debece’s physique and pedigree (a close relative of the smart staying chaser Don Poli) suggest that he can better that level now he tackles fences for the first time and if he does it would make him a real contender today.
Grade One placed as a novice over hurdles, he has some strong form to his name and a good record fresh while the stable, who had a double with reappearing runners at Warwick this month and saddled yesterday’s Silver Trophy runner-up Point Of Principle to run a fine race off a 169-day break, seemingly have their horses well forward again.
Tactics could prove key here and with the expectation Ballymoy will be more positively ridden than his main rivals in a race that may not be strongly run, I’m siding with the Nigel Twiston-Davies trained five-year-old to continue his progression.
A dual novice winner earlier in the year, he landed the hat-trick when taking a valuable and competitive novices’ handicap hurdle at Sandown in April from a field of in-form and unexposed horses in a good time.
Placed in point to points and with a pedigree to stay further, I suspect his future lays over longer trips and ultimately larger obstacles but he’s done enough over this trip while hurdling to suggest he can defy a 7lb rise for that last win.
All of his winning form has been achieved on a deep surface and the further conditions ease the better his chance will become, while the good form of the stable is another plus.
I’m A Game Changer would have gone close in this last year but for a late blunder and he still looks a well handicapped horse, but the run of the race may not suit him ideally and he may prefer slightly better ground than what he ends up with.
I was keen on the chance of Glenamoy Lad in yesterday’s ultra-competitive Coral Sprint Trophy at York prior to him being declared a non-runner so I have to side with him here in a much weaker affair despite having a slight concern that they don’t go quick enough for him.
Progressive upon joining Michael Wigham from Ireland last season, Glenamoy Lad’s defeat of Tropics at Newcastle in November was regularly franked by the runner-up last winter and marked this four-year-old down as one to keep on the right side of.
A big eyecatcher as he got no run having travelled sweetly in the Stewards’ Cup on his reappearance here in August, he was below that form at the Curragh last time but had an excuse in that he was drawn on the wrong part of the track.
Not subjected to an overly hard time there, he has since been dropped 2lb and looks attractively handicapped for this return to calmer waters.
The winner of this race for Henry Candy last season, Noble Peace has yet to match that level of form for his new stable but the return to his favoured course and distance on ground conditions that have hopefully eased further by the final race on the card, is expected to see him back to his best.
Recent outings on the all-weather were never likely to see him to best effect as he’s yet to match his turf form on that surface, but he was far from disgraced at Lingfield 10 days ago and the form of his last turf run at Newmarket worked out well.
Now 4lb lower than for that run and his win in this race last year, Noble Peace looks well handicapped and though Sing Out Loud is feared, he looks well worth backing each-way from a good draw.