Vinndication ran away with the valuable handicap chase at Ascot on Saturday and landed a gamble in the process (7/1 to 2s) for Kim Bailey. The six-year-old is 33/1 at BetVictor for the Cheltenham Gold Cup in March although he has never won going left-handed and was well held in a vintage JLT Chase at the Festival in March.
Connections believe he has improved for the wind operation he had in the summer although he will surely have to race left-handed next time to see if he is a realistic Gold Cup contender or whether he is totally dependent on racing clock-wise.
At Hereford this afternoon I hope to see Olly The Brave (2.20) improve on his hurdles debut when third at Worcester last month. Dan Skelton’s six-year-old was not knocked about on that occasion but jumped very well and I would be disappointed if he didn’t run a big race with that experience under his belt.
A market move for Sea Story would be worth noting in the concluding mares handicap hurdle, but Tom George has his string in decent form of late and Darling Du Large (4.20) gets the vote. The selection has had her wind operated on during the summer and is fitted with a first-time tongue-tie today. The mare finished in the first three in all four starts last term and looks fairly treated for her reappearance.
There is a terrific handicap hurdle at Plumpton and Acey Milan (2.40) looks fairly treated for his reappearance at a track where he broke his maiden tag over timber back in December. The selection was the best of the British Bumper horses when fourth in the Champion Bumper – went off favourite – back in 2018 and he looks fairly treated for the yard of Anthony Honeyball whose stable have made a good start to the campaign.
Shintori (3.10) is 7lbs higher than when scoring at Fontwell back in March and he is taken to make a winning reappearance despite the steadier of 12st 5lbs. The gelding needs to be ridden with exaggerated waiting tactics, but he gets on well with Nick Schofield and there might be more to come the 7-year-old this season.
At Kempton I am looking forward to seeing Ardiente (2.30) in the Fillies’ Novice Stakes and hope to see her return to winning ways having won here on debut 12 months ago. We have only seen Ed Vaughan’s filly once since when she finished third to a couple of decent sorts at Newmarket back in July when giving the first two home 7lbs. A market move for the well-bred Godolphin newcomer Miss Ditsy would be worth noting but the selection sets a good standard.
Charlie Appleby fits Power Of Tine with cheekpieces for his racecourse debut but cost 900,000 Gns as a yearling and is bred to be very smart. He could be anything and is another for whom a check of the market is advised.
He will have to be good, however, to beat Roger Varian’s Establish (3.30) on debut given the selection has already shown a good level of form having finished runner up in a decent Newbury contest last time.
The Listed Floodlit Stakes is an absolute belter and Royal Line looks the one to beat having won the September Stakes over today’s C&D before finishing third in the Gp 1 Stayers event at Ascot on Champions Day. Marginal preference, however, goes to Loxley (4.00) who was nabbed close home when finishing second at Newmarket last time and receives 3lbs from the top-weight and likely favourite.
Royal Star (4.30) was beaten 6L behind classic winner and multiple Group 1 winner Star Catcher at Newbury in the spring and could be very well treated for her handicap debut. The selection has not run since disappointing when favourite at Salisbury back in April, but she is certainly bred for the job and it will be interesting to see if the market speaks in her favour.