It was hard not to be impressed by Redicean the winner of the Juvenile Hurdle at Kempton on Saturday and he was slashed from 33/1 to 10/1 at BetVictor for the Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham in March.
Waiting Patiently maintained his unbeaten record over fences at Kempton and was halved in price (10s from 20/1) for the Ryanair. I would not be rushing to back the horse, however, until you get confirmation from the Malcolm Jefferson yard that he will be Cheltenham bound given connections could wait for the Melling Chase at Aintree in April.
There is a valuable Conditions Stakes over two miles at Wolverhampton on their twilight card this afternoon. The winner will gain automatic qualification to Lingfield’s Good Friday end-of-season celebration of the all-weather season and the French raider Funny Kid is a fascinating contender having scored at Deauville (polytrack) when last seen back in November.
Frontiersman would be giving plenty of weight to today’s 10 rivals if this were a handicap but he has never run on an all-weather surface and he is not guaranteed to get home although he is a half-brother to Derby winner Australia.
Curbyourenthusiasm (6.40) has not seen the track since finishing sixth in a listed race at York back in May, but the yard of David Simcock are in good form, he has run well fresh in the past and has winning form on an all-weather track. The grey finished second in the Yorkshire Cup back in 2016 and if he is freshened up following his break, he can reward each way support. There is plenty of pace in the race and I hope to see Jamie Spencer produce the selection fast and late in what promises to be an informative contest.
It may not have been a great race that Maratha (7.10) won over C&D over Christmas, but he is beginning to learn to settle in his races and a 5lbs rise may not prevent him following up. Fayez met trouble in running at Lingfield last time and that run is readily overlooked. The handicapper has seen fit to drop him a pound for that effort and he looks sure to run well but Maratha gets a narrow vote in a trappy little contest.
At Ayr, the lightly raced Hills Of Dubai (2.50) won an Irish point back in February 2013 and nearly five years on the selection has only had five career starts under rules for Donald McCain and has yet to get his head in front. This is his chase debut, however, and if he improves for the switch to fences, he must go close from a mark of 109. The nine-year-old made all to win his sole point and I hope to see Brian Hughes’ make plenty of use of the selection.
If in the same mood as when scoring over C&D from a 4lb lower mark at the beginning of the month then Sky Full Of Stars (3.25) will be difficult to beat for James Ewart. The 8-year-old has lacked consistency in the past but he did win back-to-back under similar conditions last year and he receives 15lbs from Casual Cavalier who might be the biggest danger to the selection.
In the opener at Plumpton, Lisp (1.25) can follow up last month’s C&D success when she took full advantage of the 19lbs she received from Gary Moore’s progressive Knockanuss. The latter is now rated 135 after a win at Fontwell on Boxing Day and is being aimed at a possible tilt at the Betfair Hurdle next month. Lisp is now rated 130 herself and it would be no surprise to see her line up for the Fred Winter at Cheltenham if she is successful this afternoon.
Themanfrom Minella was a good winner at Warwick earlier in the month but has been raised 8lbs for that victory and is overlooked in favour of the mare and dual C&D winner Frank N Fair (3.05). The selection finished third in the Sussex National last time and is 5lbs lower today over a trip that clearly suits. She is in the form of her life but is 8 days enough for the mare to have got over those exertions? Do note she has won two races in eight days previously – back in April 2016.
Point winner Overworkdunderpaid (3.40) looks to have found a decent opportunity in the Maiden Hurdle. He ran his best race yet when fourth at Wetherby over slightly further and today’s slight drop back in trip should suit. Jersey Bean only got as far as the first last time but the Oliver Sherwood yard have struck form in recent days and this Bumper winner looks a big danger.