After the close of the Grand National meeting at Aintree and the start of the Flat in earnest at Newmarket this week, jumps fans have an early opportunity to perk themselves up with the April Meeting at Prestbury Park providing some great action.
Two days of quality National Hunt racing get underway on Wednesday with a 7-race card including a Grade 2 handicap chase as well as a host of Class 2 action. With a selection in each race, here’s how we think we can get the money on day one:Embed from Getty Images
2.05 (2m4½f Novices’ Hurdle) – POETIC RHYTHM
A trio of horses look to have similar place chances in Silver Kayf, Theclockisticking and Captain Cattistock but given the ground conditions there have to be doubts over all of them. Fergal O’Brien’s 7yo Poetic Rhythm however shouldn’t have any issues having shown good form over 2m5f on softish going at this track and he seems to be a level above these.
Although the festival would have been a slight disappointment to connections, his form until then had been improving steadily and he is taken to land the opener.
2.40 (Silver Trophy Chase Handicap, 2m5f – Grade 2) – KALONDRA
Neil Mulholland’s likely favourite Kalondra is one who, on the balance of things, is very much going the right way and can take another step forward to win this £34,000 prize. Having won over the course and distance, Kalondra should face no surprises here and if anything will appreciate today’s better ground (good-to-soft at the time of writing).
At a big price, Traffic Fluide could run into a place with the French bred perhaps having been refreshed by what was an easy spin over hurdles last time out although small stakes for a place and no more are recommended.
3.15 (Greatwood Handicap Hurdle, 2m4½f) – CHAMPAGNE EXPRESS
Although Verni looks like the solid one in the race and can be backed to reach a place yet again, I feel like there’s great value Nicky Henderson’s returning 8yo Champagne Express who could prove to be very well handicapped.
The son of Kalanisi had been off the track for two years but was persevered with and made a return to action in a bumper at Kempton last month. Having previously been rated 133, coming in here off a mark of 123 could mean that even though he won’t be 100% just yet he may well have a few pounds in hand.
3.50 (3m1½f Novices’ Handicap Chase) – BADEN
While I could not discount Ozzy Thomas in this one, I can more than understand the bookmakers putting Baden in as favourite after his Military Gold Cup success at Sandown in March.
In-form Nicky Henderson’s 7yo gets in here off a mark of 128 which seems a touch low to me, Nico De Boinville’s mount potentially having half a stone in hand with conditions most likely not presenting too many problems nor any real excuses.
4.25 (3m Handicap Hurdle) – COUP DE PINCEAU
Ian Williams’ handicap debutant King Of Realms may prove popular and I can see why having won nicely at Doncaster on only his third start over hurdles, however it’s a similar type I fancy more in the shape of Paul Nicholls’ 6yo Coup De Pinceau.
The bay gelding finally made the breakthrough after 5 attempts when winning a small race at Musselburgh in February but a look at his profile overall as well as that performance tells me he’s a little better now than the mark of 135 that he’s been given, so he could just have a little bit up his sleeve for this contest.
5.00 (3m2f Handicap Chase) – SINGLEFARMPAYMENT
Although he hasn’t won since December 2016 (around this track and trip), Singlefarmpayment will probably show himself to be grateful for a little bit of better ground having been flogging himself on the heavy going this winter, including when fifth in the Ultima Handicap Chase at the festival last time out.
He does love this course though and can once again show his worth ahead of the potentially well handicapped More Buck’s and Fergal O’Brien’s in-form Lovely Job who are both bound to be popular in the ring.
5.30 (2m1f Conditional Handicap Hurdle) – GOING GOLD
There could be some really good value in the lucky last in the shape of Richard Hobson’s recent novice hurdle winner Going Gold, ridden today by the very capable James Bowen who can make a huge difference in a race full of conditional and even amateur jockeys.
Bowen should get a good trip round on this one and it would seem his handicap mark of 127 is a little on the generous side and with conditions not a problem; he gets the vote ahead of Capitaine.