No rain forecast for the foreseeable future, but the ground is described as good to soft and soft in places on the Chase course at Sandown who play host to Saturday’s feature meeting.
I hope the ground is soft enough in the Veterans’ Chase for Le Reve who has been the subject of sustained support during the week. Lucy Wadham’s 11-year-old, who is at his best going right-handed, is 7/1 at BetVictor who are betting each way 5 places on the race.
Good to soft ground forecast for today’s Wetherby card and Neil Mulholland’s Very Extravagant (1.15) is beginning to look very well treated over timber having been dropped another 3lbs since shaping with promise when third (of four) at Doncaster from a 3lbs higher mark last time. The mare has won from a stone higher mark in the past and the drying ground is a plus.
Abbreviate (1.45) has been raised 3lbs for finishing second at Exeter last time and Kim Bailey’s chaser will be ridden by Nico De Boinville for the first time despite the fact that stable jockey David Bass is at the West Yorkshire track.
Dual winning pointer My Old Gold makes her belated seasonal reappearance and chase debut and a market move for Nicky Richards’ nine-year-old would be worth noting.
Nicky Henderson’s Clarendon Street (2.20) may have bumped into a decent sort when runner up at Warwick to stablemate Birchdale who is only 9/2 with BetVictor for Saturday’s Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown. The selection held four entries yesterday morning and I hope it is significant that connections have decided to go for this option.
Nortonthorpelegend (2.55) was very well found in the market when making most at Catterick over the Christmas period. He is ridden by Mr Aaron Anderson in this amateur riders’ event and the latter, at the time of writing, has ridden two winners from his last six rides.
The near 3m Novice Chase at Lingfield is a trappy little heat and I hope Bastien (2.35) can build on his chase debut at Huntingdon when he jumped very well in a better race than today’s. Richard Johnson could have ridden Rio Quinto for Olly Murphy but reverts to likely market leader Lovenormoney who was the highest rated of these over hurdles but was slightly disappointing on his chase debut.
It might be worth noting that Johnson has ridden the horse twice previously and his record reads 11. He looks a dour stayer and underfoot conditions will suit, but I felt Bastien looked a sure-fire future winner on his chase debut.
Big Time Frank (3.40) is fitted with cheek-pieces for the first time in the conditional jockey’s event and I hope the headgear can bring about the improvement needed to turn his recent second place finishes here and at Exeter into a win. The selection is 5lbs higher in the weights this afternoon and drops back in trip a couple of furlongs, but the hope is he can make all under the promising Lorcan Williams.