The ground at Uttoxeter for today’s eight race card was described as soft – good to soft in places – with no further significant further rain forecast so I feel we can safely assume conditions are likely to be on the soft side of good.
In the first division of the novices’ hurdle I am looking forward to the first start over timber for Dan Skelton’s Third Time Lucki (12.20) who was last seen finishing fourth in the Champion Bumper at Cheltenham. The selection was the best of the British at the Festival – first three home all trained in Ireland – and had previously won his last couple of starts at Market Rasen and Huntingdon on soft ground. He is an exciting prospect.
Wilde About Oscar (12.50) runs in the same black and white silks as his stablemate Third Time Lucki and finished fourth in a listed Bumper at Newbury when last seen back in February. The selection will get further in time, but he will appreciate the cut in the ground and gets the vote ahead of the rules debutant Lord Of Kerak who cost connections £240,000 as a three-year-old but strikes me more as a long term prospect.
The 18-runner novices’ handicap chase would not look out of place at Cheltenham and the early money has been for Minella Bobo who is a winning pointer and represents a yard – that of Rebecca Curtis – who have made a good start to the campaign. Minella Bobo looks potentially very well handicapped from a mark of 122 but my two against the field are Morning Vicar and Killer Clown (1.50) with the latter getting the ew vote.
Morning Vicar looked an unlucky loser when coming down four out at Newbury and attracted market support before being a late withdrawal at Ludlow on account of the drying ground last week. Killer Clown failed to win over timber but ran some excellent races in defeat and was a winner between the flags. The selection – who has had a wind procedure since his last run – has the scope to leave his opening mark well behind in time but this is an ultra-competitive heat, and all 18 runners hold realistic claims. Plenty of future winners will come from the race.
In the mares’ handicap chase at Fakenham Deputy’s Oscar (1.35) makes her chase debut for Stuart Gethings and is taken to make a winning start. The selection has been off the track since finishing runner up in a Sandown handicap hurdle back in December from a 2lbs lower mark. The selection – who is a winner between the flags – has only ever raced right-handed under rules which is a concern, but she jumped straight enough over timber.
Her main danger looks to be Bit On The Side who also makes her chase debut and did jump out to the right when third at Uttoxeter on her last start. I feel Deputy’s Oscar – who won first time out last term – has the more scope.
Great to see Aidan Coleman back in the saddle following an 11-week break with a fractured arm. Coleman was announced as Olly Murphy’s stable jockey on Wednesday and the pair team up with Skandiburg (2.40) who is taken to make a winning chase debut in receipt of 10lbs from the likely favourite Young Wolf. The selection has had a wind operation since finishing down the field in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham but had won his two previous starts over timber.
At Haydock Tidal Point (3.48) is taken to go one better than when runner up over 2m 2f at Pontefract last week for Steph Hollinshead when he failed to get home over that marathon trip. The selection who remains a maiden after 10 careers starts has been raised 2lbs for that effort but can run from his old mark today. His second here to Moon King over 1m 6f last season from a 5lbs higher mark looks strong form and his Pontefract run was a welcome return to form.