Given some of the shocks since Christmas, a few geese have been cooked alongside the turkeys. Many punters will be happy to see the new year in.
On my tried and tested policy of following improvers, I’ll stay with Huntsman Son who won at Doncaster like a horse going places. Handicapper has flung 11 lbs more his way to try to shield professional embarrassment but I think Huntsman Son can cock another snook at him. This’ll be the softest he’s raced on but I cannot see his trainer risking him unless there’s considerable confidence that he’ll be fine on it.
He hung a fair bit going into the last two at Donny and I suspect young J Bowen will hold onto him tomorrow until after the last.
Huntsman Son 9/2
I think Henlan Harri is well worth another chance here after disappointing last time out when James Bowen – for me, at least – just didn’t seem to get on with the horse (his first time riding him). He couldn’t get into any sort of rhythm and I think we could see the horse bounce back here under usual pilot, Sean Bowen.
Henlan Harri 10/1
Not the quality you expect in a Grade 1 but I suspect there’s at least one horse in this who could make a name for himself – Way Back Then. I was impressed by him looks-wise and style-wise when he won at Kempton last time and despite wanting to see the enthusiastic and bonny wee mare Dame Rose run a big race here, I’ll go with Way Back Then.
Dame Rose is a joy to watch but I just think she’ll run herself into this deep ground.
Way Back Then 9/2
Just 4 runners but a tricky wee race in which a tentative selection os
A Vos Gardes 4/1
Over almost 3m4f, this’ll be a slog in a bog as Nicky Henderson likes to say, although I’m avoiding his horse here in favour of West Of The Edge who has won a soft ground marathon at Warwick. His trainer seems to mix hurdling and chasing with this one – not an enterprise I’m overly fond of normally, but West Of The Edge should enjoy the conditions and if you can jump Warwick you can pretty much jump anywhere (touch wood)
West Of The Edge 6/1
Church Hall who’s had plenty of training problems, won on his first run back after a long layoff and did so in the style of a horse with much more to come. He’s gone up 10lbs for that victory but I don’t think that will be enough to stop him. There is always the dreaded ‘bounce factor’, but, barring that, he should go very close.
Church Hall 4/1
Enjoy the racing and don’t bet more than you can afford to lose with a smile.