No turf racing In Britain yesterday, but Saturday is likely to see the belated return of Native River who has not set foot on the trrgtack since finishing third in the 2017 Cheltenham Gold Cup.
The Colin Tizzard-trained eight-year-old won the corresponding Denman Chase 12 months ago and is currently a shade of odds on at 4/5 with BetVictor to follow up this year. Saphir Du Rheu – another having his first start of the season – is 7/2 and the novice Fountains Windfall 11/2 at BetVictor for what promises to be a most informative Grade 2 contest.
Doncaster report no problems for their jumps card this afternoon with frost covers deployed and temperatures set to rise. The form of Paisley Park’s second at Warwick in a Grade 2 contest last month has taken a couple of knocks with the winner (Mr Whipped) and third (Knight in Dubai) both beaten in recent days. I just favour Secret Investor (3.00) to Gowiththeflow, despite having selected the latter at Ludlow yesterday before that meeting fell foul to the elements.
The selection has finished runner up in his last three starts but this embryonic chaser appeared not to get home over three miles last time and no surprise to see him dropped back in trip today for Paul Nicholls. Ben Pauling has saddled four winners from his last four runners but Gowiththeflow also finished behind Mr Whipped – this time at Newbury – and I give the vote to the Nicholls-trained runner.
Olly Murphy suggested Flow With Eve (4.40) would come on for her recent Fakenham comeback when she was just touched off by a stablemate. She is 3lbs higher in the weights this afternoon but the yard’s conditional Fergus Gregory takes off 8lbs this afternoon and she can go one better in her first-time cheek-pieces despite dropping back in distance.
We put up Midnight Target (1.45) at Ludlow earlier in the week and the mare was well backed before the abandonment. I think connections have found a good opportunity at Huntingdon although a market move for Abbreviate would be worth noting – David Bass takes over from the stable conditional – although he might need better ground to be seen at his very best.
The feature is the listed Sidney Banks Memorial and the half dozen who go to post all have realistic chances. The drop back in trip might not suit the unbeaten Vinndication and Equus Secretus has been given a break since disappointing at a time when the Pauling yard were not at their best.
I just favour Western Ryder (2.15) stepping up in trip to 2m 3f for the first time for Warren Greatrex. The selection did not give his running at Sandown on heavy ground last time but his previous Cheltenham win was near top-class novice hurdle form.
Wilde Blue Yonder (2.50) could easily “bounce” having run a terrific race when finishing third returning from a lengthy absence at Newbury in December, but Alan King has not rushed him back and the 9-y-old is well-treated on his best form.
It was not a great race that Glenforde (3.20) finished runner up in last time but he travelled like much the best horse in the race and Kim Bailey fits the seven-year-old with cheek pieces for the first time this afternoon.
At Meydan Winter Lightning finished in front of Rayya (2.30) when the pair met three weeks ago over 7f but I take the Doug Watson-trained filly to gain her revenge over a mile in the 1000 Guineas.
Had Blair House (6.00) had a single-figure draw he would rate nap material in the 10f handicap, but the hope is that William Buick can get the five-year-old into a decent position from the stalls having run so well off this mark here three weeks ago.