More money for Fire Brigade (5s from 6s with BetVictor) for Saturday’s Lincoln at Doncaster as a result of an upbeat report from trainer Michael Bell and the booking of Ryan Moore who has yet to ride the winner of the race.
The Mile Handicap is sponsored by 32Red whose former CEO Ed Ware is a part-owner of the four-year-old and this has long been the plan for the progressive mud-lover. There is also a good jumps card from Newbury on Saturday and in the Mares’ Handicap Final the Paul Nicholls-trained If You Say Run, runner up in Grade 2 company last time, is 7/1 market leader with BetVictor.
The ground is described as a mix of soft (hurdles) and good to soft (chases) at Ludlow and there are just four realistic contenders for the feature 2m Chase over the minimum trip. Space Oddity (4.10) unseated last time in a match but the form of his previous second to Kauto Riko was franked when the winner was first past the post at Herford in his subsequent start although he lost the race in the Stewards’ Room.
The selection gets 7lbs from Just Cameron and the latter looks the biggest danger despite disappointing at Wetherby last time.
I was disappointed with the run of Opening Batsman (4.45) at Hereford last time but that was at a time when the Harry Fry yard were largely out of form and I hope he can bounce back on today’s better ground. The selection is now a 12-year-old but ran a very good race on ground, arguably, softer than ideal at Taunton on his seasonal reappearance and the horse did win at Fontwell last spring on good ground.
There is a hot 2m Handicap Hurdle and the drying ground is a plus for Flashing Glance coming back from a break. Dan Skelton saddles two and Festival-winning jockey Bridget Andrews is on board Bertimont (5.15) who is entitled to come on for his Market Rasen comeback last month.
The selection is very well handicapped on his best form, today’s better ground will suit but he did jump slightly out to the left last time which is a concern, although he has run some of his best races at Taunton which is a similar track to Ludlow.
They race at Chepstow and conditions were described as “gluey and testing” by jockey’s yesterday at the track. Kupatana (2.50) pulled hard on the way to the start and actually did a lap of Lingfield before winning earlier in the month. Nicky Henderson fits his mare with a hood this afternoon and she must take all the beating as long as she is more amenable to restraint back at the minimum trip.
The three-mile handicap chase is a tough puzzle to solve. Venetia Williams has not had the best of seasons but she has been back among the winners in recent days and Saroque is very well treated on his best form.
Las Sacre (4.00) won this corresponding race 12 months ago, however, and is only 3lbs higher this afternoon. The 9-y-old ran well when second at Ffos Las last month and I would be disappointed if he did not go very close with Daryl Jacob taking over in the plate for the first time.
Vasco Du Mee (5.00) was another C&D winner at this meeting under today’s amateur pilot 12 months ago and the selection had a pipe-opener between the flags last month. The selection looks sure to go close and may have most to fear from the teenager Al Co.