The “Beast from the East” has decimated turf racing this weekend but today’s cards at Lingfield and Newcastle report no problems.
Only ten days to the start of the Cheltenham Festival and BetVictor were forced to cut their market on whether the brilliant Douvan will line up (any race) next week from 2/1 to 5/4 after trainer Willie Mullins made optimistic noises about his chances of lining up in the Champion Chase earlier in the week. BetVictor make Douvan a 4/1 shot for the Champion Chase and are Non Runner No Bet on all races at the Festival.
The ITV cameras are due to show four races from Lingfield including the feature race, which is ironically called the 32Red Spring Cup for three-year-olds over seven furlongs.
Jockey James Doyle rode a winner at the Meydan Carnival on Thursday and will be in the plate aboard Headway who has the best juvenile form on offer, given he finished second in the Coventry Stakes at Royal Ascot back in June. That form has not worked out particularly well, however, and at 5/4 with BetVictor the William Haggas-trained colt is overlooked although the step up to 7f will suit.
Jeremy Noseda saddled a double at Lingfield midweek and his Lansky (3.30) gets the vote with the handler adding a tongue-tie to the blinkers the colt wore when scoring at Kempton when last seen back in October. Ryan Moore rode the midweek double and the former champion jockey is again in the plate this afternoon – stall one is a slight concern given the selection can be slowly away but at 3/1 with BetVictor I feel he can shake up the market leader.
Humbert has won his last three starts but the suggestion is he may be a better horse around Kempton and if Sea Fox sets a decent gallop I hope to see Mr Minerals (1.45) make a winning reappearance for Richard Hughes. The selection is 13/2 at BetVictor and did win first time out at Wolverhampton (tapeta) on his racecourse debut although he has yet to encounter today’s polytrack surface.
Yensir (2.20) has his first start for Olly Murphy and gets the vote in the mile-and-a-half handicap given the yard are in such good form. Luke Morris has four winners from just six rides for the stable and this five-year-old was picked up for just 13,000 Gns back in November. The market should provide valuable clues as to whether Murphy has been able to eke out some improvement in this 16-race maiden.
In the finale, Mambo Dancer is attempting to win his fourth race from his last six starts but I hope he and the hat-trick seeking Author’s Dream help set the race up for Rydan (5.10) who cannot be described as a serial winner, but might benefit from this hands and heels race for apprentices.
At Newcastle Ballycrystal (2.40) should be able to gallop his four rivals into submission for Danny Cook and Brian Ellison. The selection has won a point-to-point, bumper and a couple of novice hurdles and would be the best of these over obstacles.
Nautical Nitwit (3.15) came back to form over timber at Doncaster when a close second over three miles last time and he can edge out the dual Bumper winner Western Rules who represents the yard of Nicky Richards successful in the Eider with Baywing at Gosforth Park last weekend. Richards reported Baywing is likely to be aimed at the Grand National next season.
Donald McCain was among the winners at Southwell yesterday and I just wonder if his William Of Orange (3.50) can upset the odds on the likely short priced favourite Forest Bihan who is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first time today by Brian Ellison.
The selection won a couple of races on the level for Sir Mark Prescott and he might have too much toe for the Ellison runner over this trip.
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