Sad to see both Coneygree and Cue Card fail to complete in the Charlie Hall Chase at Wetherby on Saturday but Bristol de Mai was a good winner and is now 10/3 from 4/1 at BetVictor for the Betfair Chase at Haydock later in the month with Gold Cup winner Sizing John the 11/8 favourite.
Go Conquer won the valuable 3m Chase at Ascot and was cut to 12/1 (from 25s) for the BetVictor Gold Cup with the sponsors although there is a possibility he could bypass Cheltenham and wait for a return to Ascot next month.
There is a competitive card at Plumpton this afternoon and William Hunter (1.40) can make a winning hurdling debut for Alan King in the opening 2m Maiden Hurdle. The selection is rated 80+ on the level and suggested he was coming back to his best when third at Yarmouth when last seen in September.
The selection certainly has the scope to jump a hurdle and he might have too much pace for winning point-to-pointer Roll Of The Dice and dual winning Bumper performer King Vince.
Plantagenet has won his last four starts over timber for Seamus Mullins but is 9lbs higher on his chase debut and is overlooked on this occasion. Velvet Cognac (2.40) can run off the same mark as when runner up at Fontwell last time and this dual winning pointer is taken to go one better.
David Pipe’s string have hit form in the last week and Red Square Revival must go close but the vote goes to top-weight Ben Arthur (3.40) who is entitled to come on for his chase debut when weak in the market but shaping with promise at Bangor. Another previous winner between the flags, the selection is only 1lb higher than when scoring over timber at Ffos Las back in February although he wouldn’t want the ground to dry out too much.
In the opener at Southwell the hope is that Galros Lady (1.00) strips a bit fitter than when third at Worcester back in September from a 2lbs higher mark. Trainer Tim Vaughan had his first ever Cheltenham winner at the recent Showcase meeting and this inmate is only 4lbs higher than when scoring at Lingfield 12 months ago.
Master Of Finance (3.00) has been shaping as if he needs a step up in trip of late but Malcolm Jefferson perseveres at the minimum trip and connections look to have found an ideal opportunity from a lenient looking mark – the hope is that jockey Jamie Hamilton makes plenty of use of his mount.
Ben Pauling has his team in fine form and the booking of Nico de Boinville for Barley Hill (4.00) in the concluding Bumper suggests a bold bid is expected. The yard have had a couple of well-backed Bumper winners and a check of the market is recommended.
At Kempton Express Lady (2.20) looked as though she would appreciate another furlong when runner up at Newcastle over 7f from a 2lbs lower mark last time and she can go one better for Hugo Palmer and Josephine Gordon.
The final of the £70,000 Middle distance series is a cracker and I cannot desert Ply (3.20) despite the fact that he is 11lbs higher than when scoring over C&D last time. William Buick, who did us a favour in the Breeders’ Cup at Del Mar on Saturday, takes over in the plate for Roger Charlton.