Un De Sceux was a facile winner of Saturday’s Grade 1 Clarence House Chase at Ascot and remains 4/1 favourite at BetVictor to retain his Ryanair Chase crown at Cheltenham in March. Jenkins was a game winner of the feature handicap hurdle at the same venue and was trimmed into 10s from 16/1 by BetVictor for next month’s Betfair Hurdle.
Monday’s jumps card at Lingfield was abandoned on Sunday due to a waterlogged track but Fakenham report no problems for today’s six-race card.
Rio Quinta (1.55) was a fluent winner over 2m 4f here last month and is taken to follow up stepped up to three miles for the first time. The selection is penalised 6lbs for that success as is the mare Oscar Star who scored at Southwell last time.
The 3m Handicap Chase is a competitive heat despite the paucity of numbers and all six could be made a realistic case for. Morney Wing would take some passing on a going day, Holly Bush Henry has the assistance of James Bowen but may need better ground and preference is for dual course winner Halo Moon (2.25).
The selection was off the track since February 2016 before running as if in need of the outing at Bangor in November. Noel Fehily rode the gelding for his two course wins and keeps the ride today. He remains 5lbs above his last winning mark but gets the vote in a decent little contest.
Dolphin Vista is rated 100 on the level and is a fascinating debutant in the two-mile maiden hurdle. His stamina is not guaranteed, however, as he is a 10f horse on the flat although the betting will provide valuable clues as to how he has schooled. The nod, however, goes to Olly Murphy’s Captiva Island (2.55) who will get every yard of the trip, is fitted with first-time cheek-pieces and can finally break his maiden tag.
In the last Murphy has booked Ciaran Gethings for the mare Flow With Eve (3.55) in the conditional jockey’s event. The selection has her first start for the yard and she does have bits of previous form, which suggest she might be up to defying this mark. Top-weight Astrum finished a couple of lengths in front of another Murphy inmate here at New Year and he might be more of a danger than recent chase winner Little Windmill.
On Wolverhampton’s tapeta surface this afternoon, there is an interesting Novice event over a trip just shy of ten furlongs.
Godolphin’s Cross Counter looked ready for a step up in trip when scoring on debut over an extended mile here earlier in the month and he is entitled to improve given he was green in the early stages. The winning time wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, however, and he has the widest draw in stall seven to overcome.
Natch (4.50) receives 7lbs from the Godolphin runner and shaped with considerable promise on debut when a running on fourth over a mile at Chelmsford. His breeding would suggest he will be a different proposition over today’s additional distance and this colt can score at the second time of asking for John Gosden.
Big Time Maybe (5.20) was a frustrating sort for Tom Dascombe on turf but he has won his last two starts on the all-weather including an impressive success over C&D in a fast time when last seen in October. The gelding is 7lbs higher this afternoon, has been off the track for nearly three months and gives race fitness to Desert Doctor who scored over C&D nine days ago. That said Dascombe has his string in good form and he can edge out the Ed Walker runner in what promises to be an intriguing four-runner event.
Flight Of Fantasy made all at Kempton last time from an 8lbs lower mark and it is possible that the filly is better on polytrack than tapeta. I hope, however, she sets a good gallop, which will allow Zabeel Star (6.20) to settle better than he did at Newcastle last time over ten furlongs. The selection does stay today’s 12f trip (C&D winner) has a good draw in stall six and gets the each way vote.
Gabrial The Thug has left Ian Williams and had a wind operation since his last run and a market move might be worth noting. Champagne Pink (6.50) did not give her running at Newcastle last time but she had won her last three here at Dunstall Park before that and can get back to winning ways for Karl Burke.