By Tony Calvin
I do not tend to go overboard punting-wise when the ground rides so testing – and it does not threaten to dry out any time soon – but I fancy one in the opener at Hereford, so I will start there to get Monday’s betting ball rolling.
He has very few miles on the clock for a nine-year-old, so has clearly had his problems down the years. He was off the track for nearly five months after suffering a particularly nasty fall at Ludlow in April, where he was not out of it when coming down two out.
He predictably did not feature when a 50-1 chance in a competitive handicap hurdle at Cheltenham in November but his two efforts at Hereford last season, notably his second over track and trip on soft ground, give him leading form claims and he has a better chance than 8-1 quotes imply, for all he has a fragile profile.
The only other horse I half-fancied on the Hereford card was Regal Flow at around 11-2 in the staying handicap chase at 3.40pm, but not enough to risk my own money.
I thought Brother Bennett has a fair 6-1 chance in the 2m1f handicap hurdle despite doubts about his ability to act in the heavy ground, but I think the best bet on the card is Sandhurst Lad at 12-1 in this 3m1f handicap chase.
The obvious question mark is his ability to see out the trip in testing ground, as his previous efforts at and around this distance have been underwhelming.
But he comes from the family of Gold Cup winner Synchronised and I am hoping a tongue-tie and first time cheekpieces will help him in that regard.
Warren Greatrex, his trainer, is three from 19 with first-time cheekpieces since 2016 – in fact, Lovenormoney and Attest were two such winners for him only last month – and his charge is on the same mark as when winning over an extended 2m4f at the course just two starts ago. Thomas Greatrex’s 6lb claim (he gets 3lb for riding for his own stable) is an obvious positive, too.
I am surprised Pattie is as big as 6-1 as I thought her claims were strong and straightforward. She did it very snugly over 7f at Lingfield earlier in the month, her first start since August, and I thought a 4lb rise was fair.
She will have no problem with the extended mile trip – indeed her only start at this course to date resulted in a half a length defeat in a maiden over an extended 1m1f and she stays 1m2f well on turf – and I thought she should be nearer a 7-2 chance. So we bet.
Elsewhere, I was going to give Reverberation a spin at 12-1 stepping up in trip on his all-weather debut in the 7.00pm, but the fact that he has been a non-runner due to a self-certificate three times since he last ran in October is a touch off-putting. It would not surprise me were he to go well if actually making it to the start this time, though.
I was all set to be suckered in by Major Crispies at 14-1 in the finale, despite the fact that he would probably be at least double the price after a furlong given his draw in 12 and his slow-starting antics. I had the case for him written, and then he was pulled out at 8.21am this morning…
Good luck all.
Tony Calvin's Monday bets:
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