Master Dino – as suggested he might – was cut from 6s to 5/1 for the JLT Novices’ Chase with BetVictor following his impressive win at Plumpton on Sunday. A number of his main market rivals such as Delta Work (7/1 with BetVictor) do appear more likely to run in the RSA Chase and the French-trained novice is my first antepost bet of the Cheltenham Festival.
Soft ground forecast at Ayr this afternoon and David Pipe makes the long journey north from his base in Devon in search of such conditions for his hurdles debutante Queens Cave (1.25) who has not been seen on the track since finishing runner up in a listed Sandown Bumper back in March. The mare won her sole point and a Uttoxeter Bumper (heavy) prior to that Sandown run and I feel connections will be disappointed if she doesn’t go very close although her 10-month absence is a slight concern.
Las Tunas (2.05) was 2l clear and had not been asked a serious question when coming down two out over C&D last week in a first-time tongue-tie. If his confidence has not taken a knock, then I feel he will be very hard to beat against largely exposed rivals.
Winning pointer Lost Frequency shaped with considerable promise when returning from a long absence over hurdles last month and a market move for Lucinda Russell’s lightly-raced 7-y-old would be worth noting. Marginal preference, however, is for Fiddlers Bow (2.35) who has had a wind operation since finishing runner up at Perth back in September.
Urbanist (1.10) was well supported on his British debut over hurdles at Ffos Las and connections can recoup losses making his chase debut in Bangor’s opener. The selection had his wind operated on before his run in south Wales and he ran well enough to finish runner up. Dr Richard Newland does well with his Irish imports and Sam Twiston-Davies takes over in the saddle this afternoon.
Irish Octave will appreciate the drying ground and is another who has had a wind procedure since last running. He must run well although he wouldn’t want the ground to be too tacky and preference is for Steps And Stairs (1.40) who has run two terrific races in defeat over fences. Yes, the handicapper has raised him 8lbs for those efforts, but Henry Oliver was among the winners at Chepstow yesterday and this progressive 9-y-old has not been out the frame in his last six starts.
The form of Collooney’s (2.15) Plumpton second to Brandon Castle at Plumpton last month was given a boost when the winner followed up at the same track on Sunday. The selection was a decent Bumper performer and is entitled to come on for that hurdles debut.
At Newcastle a market move for the well-bred newcomer Sparkle In His Eye would be worth noting and the filly Lilligram will have her supporters for Roger Varian having ran with considerable promise at Chelmsford on debut.
The selection, however, must be the Kempton winner Set Piece (5.45) who looked potentially very smart when scoring on debut. Trained by Hugo Palmer the Dansili colt was backed as if defeat was out of the question on his racecourse debut and it will take a good sort to lower his colours at Gosforth Park despite carrying a 7lbs penalty.