CeeBee previews the UK cards at Wetherby, Ffos Las and Sandown on Saturday, with bets on Peace & Co, Maximiser, Kayf Moss, Red Devil Lads and Native River.
14.45 Towton Novices’ Chase
This is the highlight of the card at Wetherby on Saturday. It’s also the only race that appeals to me to have a bet in.
Seeyouatmidnight, Southfield Royale and Vyta Du Roc all dropped out at declaration stage, but we are still left with a very strong field. On what we’ve seen to date, both the mare Run Ructions Run and Kingswell Theatre for the Scudamore’s, look to be out of their depth here. The other 4 are harder to split.
At 2/1 I’m very eager to take on Blacklion. He has 3 really good opponents here and he concedes weight to two of them. He was found a little wanting at the top table over hurdles last season. This season it took three attempts (not always looking built for this game) to get off the mark over fences. The race he did win hasn’t worked out terrifically well, with both Fletchers Flyer and Onenightinvienna beaten at odds-on since. Blacklion was beaten 3L last time out in the Dipper Chase. It was a fine run and his form is good but it’s by no means clear of what the others here have achieved.
Bitofapuzzle is next to be scratched. This is her first run outside of ‘mares only’ company. Whilst her form is very good; mares’ races are traditionally less competitive. My chief worry about her is her jumping. She unseated Noel Fehily when under no pressure last time out. The fact connections have mentioned the backup plan of reverting to hurdles at Cheltenham if fences don’t work out is not a good sign. This game clearly doesn’t come 100% naturally to her.
Definitely Red carried my money when he last ran at Warwick. He finished 2nd in a decent race and the winner Black Hercules was very good that day. However on closer inspection I think perhaps the form isn’t that strong. Silsol was well below par and Emily Gray didn’t really see out the race once beaten. Definitely Red was also getting 7lbs, as he is tomorrow. There are some borderline G1 horses in this race, I don’t think he’ll be one.
Native River is the one I want on my side. He finished third in the Kauto Star Feltham last time out. The sharp nature of Kempton, especially on decent ground, would not have suited him. And he ran accordingly. He looked caught for tactical speed and lost his position mid-race before staying on again. The two that beat him, Tea for Two and Southfield Royale, are very smart horses. Back on a more galloping track with some cut underfoot, Native River will be far better suited to this test. His previous two wins testify to that. He came home alone at Exeter (3m soft) and beat Un Temps Pour Tout (getting 7lbs) at Newbury. Native River didn’t win at any of the spring festivals, but his wins at Exeter and Wetherby (where he beat Definitely Red) marked him down as a top novice hurdler with a bright future. He’ll deliver on that in the Towton Novices’ Chase.
2 points win Native River at 7/2 with Stan James, Coral, William Hill and Betfair Sports
Ffos Las is worth a (brief) mention as it’s their big day.
In the Welsh Champion Hurdle I think Deputy Dan will appreciate this step back in trip and grade, but I’m not sure he’s too well handicapped after chasing home smart horses. Silsol won this last year but he’s a few lbs higher, Jack Sherwood is claiming a few lbs less and he ran poorly in Warwick 3wks ago.
Kayf Moss catches the eye. His three career wins have come on heavy ground. It will be very testing (as usual) here. He has also won at Ffos Las before. He finished second in this 12 months ago, but is rated 4lbs lower now. He wasn’t beaten too far last time at Chepstow in what was his first start over hurdles in almost a year. There has been a failed chasing career in-between. Remaining over hurdles if he can build on that last effort, in what look like his ideal conditions, he can go very close off a workable mark.
In the West Wales National I’d give Red Devil Lads another shot. I think turning him out in Warwick was a mistake as he had completed the Welsh National, most of it without a jockey but still, just 7 days previously. So scratch that last effort. He’s still young, lightly raced and with Ffos Las form figures of 22111 – including 3 miles on heavy.
Bob Ford won a dreadful renewal of this last year from 13lbs lower. He’ll have his work cut out. Audacious Plan is interesting but this will be a big test of his fitness coming back after missing some of the season. Cogry was very disappointing in Chepstow.
15.15 - 1 point win Red Devil Lads at 13/2 with Bet365, BetVictor and Coral
14.05 - 0.5 points each way Kayf Moss at 7/1 with Bet365, BetVictor and William Hill
14.25 Scilly Isles Novices’ Chase
The Grade 1 Novices’ Chase is the highlight on a decent Sandown card. It’s priced up as a match race; Bristol de Mai versus Tea for Two. Whilst this duo set a strong marker having both won on their last two starts, I’m eager to have a few quid on a ‘forgotten horse’. Maximiser is an 8yr old grey from the small relatively unknown yard of Simon West but don’t let that put you off. He was 2 from 2 over hurdles last season including a defeat of the smart Vago Collogones.
This season he started off in Carlisle where I assume he’d have badly needed the run after 12mts off the track. There he ran Silsol to a half-length with Seeyouatmidnight back in 3rd. Very strong form that has worked out with both of those winning novice chases next time out. Maximiser then fell in a G2 at Newbury. That day he was sent off 3/1 in a race containing Actival, Three Musketeers and Sametegal. He was sore after that and hasn’t been seen since.
That inability to show just how good he is, coupled with his ‘unknown trainer’ status has meant he’s a double-figure price here. He has yet to run a race where you’d say ‘yes that’s as good as he is’. Ignoring his bumper run for Stuart Crawford; his form reads 112F. Just the 4 starts! He is an unexposed, potentially very smart animal. He may be a better horse than both Tea for Two and Bristol De Mai.
Also at Sandown; Peace and Co is a good thing in the Contenders Hurdle. 1/2 is possibly value for me. Daryl will just need to hold onto him a bit tighter this time. His extreme tearaway effort last time can probably be put down to freshness having been off since March. This race is actually over a furlong less also. Had the Bula been over exactly 2miles as opposed to 2m1f he’d have acquitted himself much better. Rayvin Black has been turned out quickly after a tough race at Haydock. This will be his 3rd start in 5wks. I’d be surprised if he is at his best and even if he is, his front running style is the perfect target for Peace and Co to get a tow into the race before bounding clear. The 4yo Connetable will be ridden to take second and given he gets 10lbs from Rayvin Balck, he might just pip him in the final furlong.
Keep an eye on potential Grand National and Whitbread types not trying too hard in the 3.30 Handicap Chase.
1:15 - 4 points win Peace and Co 1/2 with Betfred and 888Sport
1:15 - 1 point win Peace and Co / Connetable SFC
2:25 - 1 point win Maximiser at 12/1 with BetVictor, William Hill and Coral