As well as the mouth-watering clash between the equine titans Altior v Cyrname at Ascot on Saturday there is a terrific handicap chase over an extended two miles and facile Aintree winner The Last Day has been raised 11lbs for that fluent success.
Evan Williams’s progressive chaser is 3/1 market leader at BetVictor with last month’s controversial C&D winner Diego Du Charmil and Capeland – the horse he wiped out at the last – both priced at 4/1.
At Thurles this afternoon Footpad (12.50) has his first start in eight months and the 2018 Arkle winner steps up in trip to 2m 6f on his reappearance for Willie Mullins. Douvan made a scintillating comeback – stepped up in trip – at Clonmel a week ago and the selection promises to be well served by today’s extra distance, although he faded from two out when third to Unowhatimeanharry at Punchestown in a Grade 1 hurdle back in the spring of 2017.
At Market Rasen Dundrum Wood (12.25) looked in need over a step up in trip when second here last month on his reappearance and today’s additional quarter-mile should see him in an even better light. The gelding has had a wind procedure since that run here behind the mare Flow Away and I would be disappointed if Olly Murphy’s winning point-to-pointer didn’t go one better under Aidan Coleman.
River Frost has been raised 9lbs for his recent Ayr success but can run under a 7lbs penalty this afternoon. He will have his supporters but I’m not sure it was much of a race and my two against the field are top-weight Rocco and bottom-weight New Quay (2.05) with preference for Dan Skelton’s chasing newcomer.
The selection is a winning pointer and looks well handicapped for his reappearance as he steps up in trip. He won at Ascot on his first start last term when he showed a tendency to jump out to his right so today’s track should suit. His ability to handle soft ground is a slight reservation although his point win was gained on ground described as yielding to soft.
At Wincanton I’m surprised to see Moonlighter (3.20) back on a right-handed track having jumped out to his left at Exeter on his chase debut but the hope is that connections have addressed that problem at home. I am convinced that he is well handicapped at present and will be winning races over the larger obstacles.
There is a terrific card at Newcastle today and the form of Waleydd’s (2.25) second at Newbury on debut was given a boost when the third horse home – Mishriff – subsequently hosed up at Nottingham. Roger Varian’s juvenile is drawn poorly out in stall 13 but he gets the vote ahead of John Gosden’s Galsworthy who finished second at Newmarket over 7f on debut and is out of a 10f two-year-old winner.
The England captain scored for a sixth successive international against Kosovo in Pristina on Sunday and Big Daddy Kane (3.20) starts life in handicaps from what looks a very workable mark. The gelding pulled hard but finished runner up to a progressive Godolphin colt at Wolverhampton last time and Jason Watson takes over in the saddle for the first time.
Time Voyage (3.30) finished a decent fourth in a better race over C&D on her debut last month and she is entitled to come on for the experience having been slowly away and then pulling hard. John Quinn’s filly has plenty of all-weather winners in her pedigree and Jason Hart takes over in the saddle this afternoon.