We suggested yesterday that Nicky Henderson’s Diese Des Bieffes is likely to head the market for Saturday’s Lanzarote Hurdle at the weekend. The suggestion is that we hold fire before today’s 48-hour declaration stage with money for stablemate William Henry (6/1 joint favourite at BetVictor) and the possibility that Diese Des Bieffes will wait for next month’s Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.
It is 10/1 the field in the Betfair Hurdle and Kalashnikov (14/1 at BetVictor) and Defi Du Seuil are two that catch the eye at the initial entry stage although the weights are not announced for the valuable 2m handicap hurdle until next week.
They race on soft ground at Catterick this afternoon and the two-mile handicap chase is a cracker. Un Prophete is 5lbs higher than when scoring at Exeter and he might find things happening a bit too quickly around this tight track. Anything Dan Skelton saddles is respected but he might be a better horse on a right-handed track and I am going to give Cracking Find (1.30) another chance with his yard in much better form than when last seen at Southwell last month.
The selection won a novice hurdle here 12 months ago, albeit over a longer trip, and will be hard to peg back if getting to the front although Ink Master also likes to race prominently and is a big danger for the inform Donald McCain yard.
Hear No Evil (2.05) failed to stay when third on desperate ground over 2m 6f at Newcastle last time, but he travelled well into the race and today’s drop back in trip will suit. The selection must give 6lbs to his nine rivals but I think he will be up to the task with the Skelton yard again among the winners at Ludlow yesterday.
Nine to post for the feature North Yorkshire Grand National over 3m 6f and Sun Cloud (2.35) is just 1lb higher than when winning this corresponding race four years ago. The selection has won his last two starts over timber and is now rated 8lbs higher over the smaller obstacles – he must go close for the yard of Malcolm Jefferson whose Mount Mews was impressive at Doncaster on his chase debut on Tuesday.
Not Another Muddle upset the odds on a 1/5 Henderson hotpot at Plumpton on his chase debut and has every chance of following up for the father and son combination of Gary and Jamie Moore. That success was over 2m 3f, however, and, back at the minimum trip, he might just be a shade vulnerable.
The top-weight Ruby Rambler (12.45) finished last of four on her chase debut at Towcester returning from a long absence and she is well-treated on the best of her hurdles form. The selection has the scope for chasing, is 8lbs lower over fences than hurdles and the Lucy Wadham yard, at the time of writing, have had a winner and two seconds from their last three runners.
The valuable Novices’ Handicap Chase only has four runners but it is a hot contest with all four holding realistic chances. Acting Lass won on his (yes his) chase debut at Market Rasen from a 6lbs lower mark but I hope to see Ballydine (1.45) go one better than when runner up at Haydock on his first start over fences. This will be the first time the selection has run right-handed which is a slight concern, but this lightly-raced eight-year-old gets the vote for Charlie Longsdon.
The New Pharaoh (2.20) gets the each way vote in the Novices’ Hurdle having made an encouraging debut over timber at Uttoxeter (2m 4f) last time. The selection only cost present connections £22,000 but a good 7lbs conditional is booked and soft/heavy ground held no fears on the level.
In the last Hollywood All Star (3.25) looks well treated on his best form and this nine-year-old is entitled to come on for his belated seasonal debut when down the field at Plumpton. He is ridden by a decent conditional, is set to carry just 9st 8lbs and gets the each way vote.