News on Tuesday that Alan King’s Yanworth will run in the Stayers’ Hurdle at next month’s Cheltenham Festival rather than over the larger obstacles. BetVictor reacted by cutting him from 10s to 6/1 and it should be noted he beat Supasundae (BetVictor’s 3/1 fav) at Aintree in the Grade 1 Liverpool Hurdle last spring.
The ground is described as good to soft at Doncaster for today’s card and there is a cracking Veterans’ Chase, which largely revolves around whether Band Of Blood can follow up his recent Exeter win under a 7lbs penalty. The 10-year-old did us a favour and landed a gamble on that occasion but that heavy ground run, just ten days ago, was his first in the best part of two years. He is reluctantly overlooked.
Neil Mulholland saddles two in this valuable contest and Noel Fehily rides top-weight Carole’s Destrier who is currently a 50/1 chance with BetVictor for the Grand National. The each-way vote, however, goes to Mulholland’s bottom-weight Halo Moon (3.20) who I felt ran a fine race at Fakenham last month on his second start from a lengthy absence. Sego Success is another to consider in a mouth-watering midweek clash.
The opening Novices’ Hurdle sees both Rocco and Canelo (1.40) dropping back in trip from three miles and French Crusader stepping up in trip and the vote goes for the Alan King runner who has been given two months off since disappointing at Taunton last time. The horse should make up into a decent novice chaser next term but he looks sure to run well back on a decent surface.
At Ludlow, I thought Lord Napier (1.50) ran a race full of promise when fifth at Kelso on his hurdles debut having his first start since May and he is entitled to come on for the run. The selection was a decent maiden on the flat, but lost both front shoes at the Borders track and I would be disappointed if he did not go close this afternoon.
The drying ground is a positive for Royal Irish Hussar and the Nicky Henderson-trained runner has certainly dropped to a favourable mark. A number of horses want better ground including Excellent Team (3.00) who goes well fresh, is well handicapped on his best form and the stable of Dan Skelton remain in top class form.
In the Prince Of Wales Trophy Captain Buck’s (3.30) looked all over the winner when he had his pocket pinched by Geordie Des Champs at Taunton last month and the handicapper has left the selection on the same mark. Lorcan Williams keeps the ride and the Paul Nicholls-trained six-year-old is open to significant improvement.
Kap Jazz and Popelys Gull are considered the two biggest dangers in a terrific renewal of this prestigious and contest for amateur riders.
In the finale, Dessinateur (5.10) steps up in trip on his handicap debut for Venetia Williams and must go close for Venetia Williams. A Bumper winner on soft ground the selection is bred to come into his own over further and does not look over-faced on his handicap debut.
At Kempton, there is a c racking qualifier for Good Friday in the staying division and I expect a better show from Curbyourenthusiam than when slammed by Watersmeet at Lingfield last time. The latter looks a worthy favourite but I was taken with the handicap win of Lord George (7.15) over C&D last time and he is taken to run down the Mark Johnston runner.