Trainer Warren Greatrex was quoted in the Racing Post on Tuesday morning that he felt his star chaser La Bague Au Roi was “in as good form as I’ve ever had her” ahead of her scheduled reappearance at Wetherby in the Charlie Hall Chase on Saturday. The mare is 7/2 with BetVictor for the Grade 2 contest and she will be penalised for her Grade 1 successes last term, but that looks a very fair price and I would be very disappointed if she didn’t run a very big race.
The ground is described as good for today’s card at Fakenham and am looking forward to the hurdles debut of High Change (1.10) who created such a favourable impression when winning a Bumper at Ffos Las back in June. The selection is a rare runner over jumps for trainer Charlie Hills’ whose four -year-old runs in the colours of his father Barry.
Fakenham is a different type of test to the more galloping track at Ffos Las, but he showed a decent turn of foot to score in south Wales and he gets the nod ahead of Nicky Henderson’s Falco Blitz who has finished runner up in his last three starts – the last two at odds on. I would expect Nico de Boinville to make plenty of use of his charge who has that valuable hurdling experience.
Midnights’ Gift (2.10) is rated 80 on the level for Alan King and makes his hurdle debut in the 3-y-old contest. The selection come from a good jumping family and it would be disappointing if he didn’t go close in what looks a very winnable looking contest.
Nube Negra (2.40) was impressive at Warwick on his chase debut and is taken to give weight away all round in the 2m Novice Chase for Dan and Harry Skelton. The selection never really hit the heights expected of him over hurdles, but he always suggested he would make up into a much better chaser and he could be very smart.
Alex Hales has his string in good form and The Drone (3.40) can land the 2m 5f Handicap Chase despite disappointing on his first start over fences over today’s C&D when he didn’t look a natural over the larger obstacles. The selection is a dual winning pointer, however, and he has won two of his last three starts over hurdles at Southwell over their mini-fences.
Paul Nicholls fits Bathsheba Bay (2.30) with first-time cheek-pieces at Taunton and the hope is that the headgear works the oracle on the former useful flat performer. He is entitled to come on for his Wincanton debut when third behind a couple of promising types representing big yards. There is rain forecast for the area and he would not want conditions to deteriorate too much.
The Nigel Hawke string remain quiet, but I suggest we take the hint if there is market support for Lamh Ar Lamh who was a winner over hurdles – on soft ground – last season and looked badly in need of a run when pulled up at Worcester on his chase debut.
The vote, however, goes to Howlongisafoot (4.00) who would not be inconvenienced if the rain got into the ground by late afternoon having won his last chase at Uttoxeter on his penultimate start. Leighton Aspell takes over in the saddle but has won on Chris Gordon’s chaser previously – from a 31 lbs higher mark albeit a couple of years ago.
At Kempton this evening Joseph O’Brien brings Grandmaster Flash (7.40) across the Irish Sea looking to break his maiden tag. The son of Australia has all-weather form figures of 222 at Dundalk but receives a stone from El Misk who is 6lbs higher than when runner up at Wolverhampton last time.
At Wolverhampton Good Job Power (4.50) has a good draw for one who likes to race prominently and is only 4lbs higher than when making all at Epsom last time. The handicap debutante Anfield Girl has the plum draw in stall one and a market move for the locally-trained filly would be worth noting.