Every Saturday of this current jump season has been fabulous, this one coming being no exception the BetVictor Fighting Fifth promises to be a belter with Buveur D’Air (8-11Fav) towering above the opponents in the entries, he is a dual Champion Hurdler and last year’s winner! However, Samcro
(7-4) may be coming to the Toon, ramping up the excitement a notch or too. All the focus on him has deflected away from some big names also potentially ready to take their place. How about Supreme Novice Hurdle winner, Summerville Boy (4-1) and the wonderful Apples Jade (8-1). There are 24 entries for a race which trainer Nicky Henderson has claimed four times already. His Buveur D’Air hasn’t been beaten since the Supreme Novices Hurdle in 2016 when behind Altior and Min, 11 races ago. Fingers crossed they all run.
More presently there are three intriguing cards in Britain, Southwell have eight races on the fibresand starting at 12.10. Trainer Simon Crisford boasts a 36% strike rate at the course, he saddles Vow Of Presence in the 3.10. This newcomer is a son of Showcasing and the Dam has plenty of speed in her pedigree. On top of his good record at the course the training is also currently in a rich vein of form with four winners from his last eight runners including the very attractive Eden Gardens. If you haven’t already put him in the note book for one to follow this winter. Vow Of Presence may well be short but worth keeping an eye on.
Lads Orders (2.10) has already secured victory round the course back on 15 November, he was receiving 9lb from French Twist and went away from that rival to win by a cosy 3 or so lengths with a further 2 lengths back to the Mark Johnston runner. There is a massive 12lb differential in the weights today which may anchor Lads Orders be mindful. It’s to Archie Watson I look, as the trainer has a fantastic record with two-year-olds, and if you mix it with his AW record its 21%. He saddles Times Past who ran really well behind California Love, although he did hang right again as he did at Kempton. He was heavily backed, which indicates they feel he is ripe for the winners enclosure and is my pick.
Astrea (1.40) has only had ten races in her career, three on the AW, and two since her wind op. On her first run back from the procedure she was tenth of 11 at Newcastle over 7f, she then had a further 53 days off the course. Back on the turf at Catterick in late October she showed herself well, finishing strongly to snatch third on a now lowly mark of 54, considering she was once 71. She may rate value at Southwell today.
Sedgefield and my local Lingfield Park host fixtures over jumps, albeit Lingfield’s first is a National Hunt Flat race on the AW, Nicky Henderson can take solace in the fact he has had four winners from his last six runners at the course, he has newcomer El Kaldoun (12.30), who will more than likely be prohibitive odds.
Nordic Combined (1.00) in the next race may be in danger of being overlooked as all the focus will be on Clondaw Anchor for the prolific pairing of Dan and Harry Skelton. However Nordic Combined represents David Pipe and Tom Scudamore whose fifth place was achieved in a better race than this at Newbury when 40-1. He showed promised beyond his odds plus the trainer jockey team won this recently with Daklondike.
I’m a huge fan of Brian Hughes who has racked up 80 winners this season, yet hardly heralds a mention, he has a strong book of rides at Sedgefield to keep an eye on, in the last Court Jurado (3.20) is a winning pointer and could be the right type to land a maiden hurdle very quickly. In the best race of the day at 2.20 Brian is aboard Chris Grant’s Theatre Legend who ran in some mighty bumpers last season culminating in the Grade 2 at Aintree his price of 100-1 told you his chance, but today he should be well equipped to put up a bold display especially as both his wins came at the course. Look out to for Kilfinichen Bay (1.50) who is in a grade and a field size which shouldn’t see him too far detached early.