With Tony Calvin seeking winter sun in warmer climates Geoffrey Riddle has combed through the two British cards for the value.
By Geoffrey Riddle
It says it all about the action at Fakenham on Monday that I have considered a horse that was beaten by an aggregate of 69 lengths on his past two starts to have a fair chance of justifying odds of 7-1 in a 0-110 Chase, but that is where we are due to the inclement weather.
The normal safe haven of Lingfield has bitten the dust, and Wetherby are taking a second look having inspected at 8.30am on Monday – these are difficult tims for punters and Wolverhampton is the only other British meeting.
That said, things could be worse and you can never say your are at the bottom of the trough so with two cards on there is at least hope of turning over a profit on what looks a turgid day.
This nine-year-old has won only four times in his career and three of them were going left-handed on soft or heavy going over fences - which is what he encounters at Fakenham.
Charlie Mann has dispatched his representative to Norfolk as his only runner of the day in place of the test that faced him at Warwick on Thursday and it could well pay off.
Morney Wing is well handicapped on the best of his form, having won the Sussex National 12 months ago from four subsequent winners and a victorious pointer from a mark of 123.
The mount of Paddy Brennan is hardly one to place your faith in, or your hard-earned on, and the Timeform squiggle he carries is entirely justified after he failed to exude the Christmas spirit by refusing at the last at Uttoxeter on December 22.
That was in a set of blinkers, and only for the second time in his career however, and with his trusty pair of cheekpieces back on he could well take advantage of a lenient mark of 113 and the possibility of an easy lead. He was 5-1 on Sunday night and is now as short as 7-2 in places.
The signs are hardly the most positive. This seven-year-old gelding was cast aside by Nicky Henderson after a series of moderate efforts and was picked up by Alex Hales at the Goffs Spring Sale for £10,000.
The Hexagon Partnership who own him have seen a modest return of only £1,287 for his two efforts for Hales in a tongue tie so far – he was third at Market Rasen in November and fourth at Leicester last month.
Being 69 lengths adrift in his past two runs hardly inspires confidence, least of all at 15-2, but there are good reasons for believing he could leave that form for dead.
Tower Of Allen has lost his past six races by an aggregate of 147.5 lengths, but all of those ‘performances’ were on right-handed tracks where, for most of the time, he was jumping left.
Now at a left-handed, undulating and sharp Fakenham where jockey Kieran Woods can almost certainly pinch a lead Tower Of Allen is faced with a completely different task, which will require a very different skill set that is far more suited to him.
Undeniably Tower Of Allen’s best effort was at left-handed Ffos Las over hurdles on dead ground several seasons ago and it might be as simple as he needs to be left alone out in front to allow him to get in to a rhythm.
With the tongue-tie mysteriously left off this time, it will be interesting to see which way he goes in the market.
There are only two horses in this race who boast a victory last time out and of the pair it is Laydee Victoria who looks the most likely to get the double up to me.
The filly finally got off the mark at her seventh attempt at Southwell a fortnight ago and should have the race run to suit.
Andrew Mullen led from the outset on this daughter of Flying Childers winner Sir Prancelot but he is surely going to have to settle in behind because Ray Purchase, the only other recent winner in the field of 12, is likely to lead. He could be pressed hard, too, because Kyle Style also likes to be up there, and Hocus Focus may well also go hard from the off.
Laydee Victoria’s winning race has already thrown up a winner in Lady Lintera, while there is no guarantee that Ray’s Purchase will even be at the top of his game after just eight days off.
The improving Shyjack and River Rule probably are the main dangers in what looks a trappy race.
Emilia James has little bits of form from her nine starts that suggest there is no way over five furlongs on an artificial surface she should be a double-figure price against her three rivals.
Value is always subjective, and if she does not win we have achieved little but even on Timform ratings there is hardly a gulf between her and drifting favourite Big Time Maybe. He was 11-10 on Sunday night but is as big as 6-4 on Monday morning.
Emilia James finished an eyebrow-raising sixth on her last run, 11 lengths adrift, at Wolverhampton on her first start for 99 days.
She was below-par in the summer, however, after undergoing a 67-day break and she built on that to run very well behind Encrypted after that.
Big Time Maybe is clearly the best horse in the extended 5f contest, but has not raced since October, while Desert Doctor, who has been backed early, is preferred to Gift In Time.
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