Gas Line Boy was one of fifteen old favourites declared for Saturday’s £100,000 Veterans’ Chase at Sandown yesterday. The news broke earlier in the week that the 12-year-old (5/1 favourite at BetVictor) will be ridden by Brian Hughes rather than regular pilot Robbie Dunne. The form of the Ian Williams yard is also a concern with the yard having a barren Christmas and New Year period.
Today’s Lingfield turf card was abandoned yesterday but Wetherby have a competitive six-race jumps card to look forward to.
In the opener, Richard Johnson rides Aardwolf for Warren Greatrex but he is not bred for eight flights of hurdles and Take The High Road (12.40) can make a winning debut for Keith Dalgleish. This lightly-raced four-year-old is half-brother to useful hurdler Elgin but showed little on his British debut when a beaten favourite on fibresand (7f) last month. Connections appear to have found a moderate race and those with experience don’t look anything out of the ordinary.
Naranja (1.15) overcame a number of moderate leaps to win at Lingfield last time, but she deserved to get her head in front after a number of good efforts and is taken to follow up back in handicap company. Anything ridden by James Bowen is, arguably, 5lbs “well in” given the conditional jockey is such good value for his claim.
Ballydine (1.50) ran an excellent race at Haydock when runner up coming back from a 600-day lay-off and trainer Charlie Longsdon has given a month to get over those exertions. The selection steps up to three miles over fences for the first time and he gave the impression at Haydock that he would improve for the additional distance.
Very First Time is chasing a hat-trick but an 11lbs rise for his latest win at Newcastle in a weaker race might be enough to foil his treble bid.
The 2m 5f Maiden Hurdle is a competitive heat and a narrow vote goes to Jammin Masters (2.25) who finished runner up here over a quarter of a mile shorter last time and this Irish import looks sure to appreciate this step up[ in trip on only his second start for Warren Greatrex.
In the Amateur Riders’ event, Smuggler’s Stash (2.25) is taken to score for Rose Dobbin and Mr Liam Ruddy who is looking for his first win under rules in Britain. The selection is only 4lbs higher than when scoring at Carlisle back in April and the hope is that his amateur pilot can get a good tune out of the top-weight.
At Kempton this evening Boychick (7.45) has been off the track since winning at Windsor back in late July but he was a progressive sort when last seen on turf and he has run well in both starts at Kempton Park. Luke Morris takes the ride, the gelding is well-drawn in stall six and this evening’s 12f trip looks ideal.
Simon Crisford’s Shamsaya (8.15) will need a good pace to chase but she ran an excellent race at Lingfield last time when second off this mark and she is taken to go one better despite having her first start at Kempton Park. Excellent George and the returning Sparkalot are others to consider in a competitive and valuable sprint handicap.
The hope is that it is a good day for Crisford as his Far Dawn (2.05) can land the maiden handicap at Southwell. The selection travelled well in first-time blinkers last time but met trouble in running and he can break his maiden at the 11th time of asking.