Flidderontheroof ran out an impressive winner of the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday and Colin Tizzard’s novice is 10/1 with BetVictor for the Supreme and 14s for the Neptune at the Cheltenham Festival in March. The trainer suggested that ground conditions would dictate which race he competes in with the likelihood that on soft ground he would run in the opening Supreme and the Neptune over an additional 5f granted good to soft or better.
There is rain forecast for Chepstow this afternoon and conditions are sure to be extremely testing for today’s seven-race card. In the 1st division of the maiden hurdle I hope to see Le Chameleon (1.20) make it third time lucky for Nick and Chester Williams. The selection has shown promise in all three starts and, while he is no star, he has hinted at ability at this wouldn’t be the strongest of races for the track.
The second division is a much stronger contest and a market move for Excelerator Express on his hurdles debut would be worth noting for Neil Mulholland. The vote, however, goes to Beaufort West (1.50) who has had his wind tweaked since disappointing here last time and is fitted with a first-time tongue-tie this afternoon. The selection had two bits of form last season – behind Winston C and Bright Forecast – that would make him very hard to beat if able to reproduce that form.
The 2m handicap chase is a good race and I thought Est Illic ran a very promising race on his chase debut at Doncaster. He is one to consider on better ground from his current mark. The vote, however, goes to Spring Wolf (3.30) who was in the process of running a good race at Taunton last time behind subsequent winner Locker Room Talk before slipping on landing four out on his belated reappearance. One note of caution the selection has run right-handed exclusively since joining Robert Walford and this will be his first start going anti clock-wise.
Oxwich Bay (4.00) has been off the course for the best part of 2 months but he remains potentially well treated and he gets the vote for Evan Williams. The selection has run from higher marks in the past and underfoot conditions should be ideal. The Peter Bowen stable have had a quiet season but there have been shoots of recovery in recent days – I shall be paying careful consideration to the yard’s runners in the weeks to come including Rooster Cogburn in today’s finale.
Heavy ground at Ayr and I am hoping to see an improved run from Dunly (1.35) who never got competitive on his chase debut at Carlisle, but it was a glorified flat race in that they only jumped 5 fences. The booking of Brian Hughes suggests James Ewart is expecting a better show with that experience under his belt. The selection has a bit to find with Lastin’ Memories on his chase debut and is not weighted to reverse the form, but I hope that run in Cumbria has blown the cobwebs away.
Ettila De Sivola will be a warm order in the novices’ handicap chase but there was a change of tactics on the mare Martila (2.40) on her chase debut and she could never get competitive having been held up well off the pace. I would be surprised if the mare was not ridden more prominently this afternoon by Henry Brooke and she has been dropped a couple of pounds in the weights.
Calix Delafayette (3.15) returns from a lengthy absence for the Ewart/Hughes combination and this is a lightly-raced sort who has been off the track since disappointing at Kelso back in the spring of 2018. The selection won his sole bumper here on heavy ground and also won first time out over timber at Kelso. He could be well treated from an opening mark of 120 although the betting should provide valuable clues as to what is expected from him after such a lengthy absence.
There is a cracking Conditions race at Wolverhampton this evening and Piovine would be giving weight to his three rivals if this were a handicap but I’m not convinced this extended 9f trip will suit and preference is for Global Giant (7.15) who has his first start for John Gosden having left Ed Dunlop since finishing third at the Curragh back in June. The selection has never raced on tapeta, but his polytrack/all-weather record reads 12.