The rain has arrived, at last, which has finally given jumps racing it’s authentic, mud-splattered ‘winter look’.
Paul Nicholls, yet again, executed a well thought-out plan, as Greaneteen demonstrated his affinity for Sandown when bagging the Tingle Creek and showed stacks of improvement from his seasonal reappearance, just as the champion trainer said he would. Well done if you listened - I did not!
No comment here as to what the form is worth going forwards. If we want racing to be about more than the Cheltenham Festival then we have to stop treating these Grade Ones as stepping stones to March.
The Skelton yard had a rollercoaster of an afternoon. Third Time Lucki was well beaten at Sandown, although you’d have to say the aggressive ride he received may have, in hindsight, not helped his cause.
Over at Aintree, Protektorat delivered a monstrous performance as he showed stamina by the bucket load to win the Many Clouds Chase. He was noticeably keen in the early stages, so to stay as well as he did was impressive.
A few clues for the Welsh Grand National were also on offer during the afternoon; Iwilldoit bolted up in the Welsh Grand National Trial, and his trainer Sam Thomas will be hoping he can follow in the hoofprints of last year’s winner, Secret Reprieve, and go on to Welsh National glory.
Meanwhile, over hurdles, the Harry Fry-trained Ask Me Early won a novice hurdle as he builds towards Christmas with his chase mark well protected. Expect him to go off a short-priced favourite if lining up for the Chepstow showpiece.
Also over hurdles, but slightly more under the radar, was the return of Elegant Escape. Most would have him labelled as a soft-ground staying chaser, so his staying on seventh in the two-mile handicap hurdle, that closed Sandown’s card, was eye-catching.
He was sixth in the 2019 Welsh National off a mark of 160 and is now rated in the mid-150’s. At a standout 40-1 for this year's renewal, I was tempted into a small investment.
Monday’s jumps racing action comes from Ludlow and Musselburgh, both live on Racing TV, and I have three selections (one now a non-runner). Best of luck.
He shaped with plenty of promise on his first start for trainer John Groucott when finishing second at this venue in November.
That came over a trip of just two miles and he certainly appeared to be in top gear for virtually the entire race.
He was the first off the bridle, but stuck to his task well and closed into a respectable fourth towards the line.
As a result of that run, he was dropped 3lb to a mark of 103 meaning he now gets to run in a class five.
I’d expect him to show improved form on this second start after a break on slightly easier ground but, the crucial part of the puzzle, is the extra half-mile. He’s now over a trip that he showed good form over last winter, off a higher mark, in significantly tougher races.
I think the market has underestimated his chance, and I expect him to comfortably outrun his odds.
He arrives here in good form after two good runs at Huntingdon. On his penultimate start, he looked the likely winner before a bad mistake two out robbed him of momentum before he eventually unseated at the last.
The winner, on that occasion, was Mr Yeats who was in receipt of 5lb and, given he then went on to be an unlucky loser next time off a 7lb higher mark, it would suggest Cheer’s Delboy is nicely handicapped off a mark of 80.
His third on his latest start came in another race restricted to conditional jockeys’ where he travelled well before possibly not quite staying the 3m1f trip.
Staying on a right-handed track but dropping back in trip looks a smart move and good to soft ground is not an issue, so conditions look ideal for a big run.Simply sign up and deposit (minimum £15) with one of our 15 betting partners, complete the form and we'll send out you the all new Racing TV Christmas Jumper for free.
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