Black Op Should Relish Return To Hurdles6 min read
There is a bit of drizzle forecast for Cheltenham who are due to host their Festival Trials Day this afternoon on ground that was described as good to soft (good in places) at noon on Friday.
I think there will be more to come from Onefortheroadtom over fences although he was never competitive in a very hot race at Plumpton last time. A market move would be worth noting. My two against the field, however, in the valuable novices’ handicap chase are the 11/4 favourite Kildisart and Enola Gay (1.15) with marginal preference for the latter who carries just 10st for the Venetia Williams’ team.
I remember the stable always used to target this race although they have not saddled the winner since 2009. I felt the selection was a shade unlucky not to win at Wincanton last time and a 2lbs rise is fair. The selection is 8/1 and he represents an each way selection.
Siruh Du Lac has done us a couple of favours this winter, but I am a big fan of The King’s Writ (1.50) who is another each way recommendation from the foot of the weights. The selection was clear when coming down at the last at Chepstow on his penultimate start before running out a fluent winner at Exeter from a 7lbs lower mark. This represents a step up in grade for the 8-year-old who is 7/1. Janika is another to consider in a very competitive heat.
If Terrefort returns to the form of his Aintree win back in the spring in their Grade 1 Novice Chase he will be hard to beat in the Cotswold Chase, but he was beaten 50l behind Elegant Escape (2.25) at Sandown on his reappearance and the Colin Tizzard-trained selection has subsequently landed the Welsh National.
The selection looks a thorough stayer and the hope is that he will be staying on when others have cried enough. He made a bad error at Chepstow last time, but still showed his stamina and ability and 11/4 looks a fair price. If there is a Gold Cup winner in the field I actually feel it will be Terrefort, but Elegant Escape looks the more solid proposition given the former has a bit to prove after Sandown.
The form of the unbeaten Birchdale’s Warwick success is rock solid, but I feel he will have to improve to beat Brewin’Upastorm (3.00) who was beaten 4l by Birchdale’s stablemate Champ at Newbury in their Grade 1 Novices’ Hurdle last time. I have been a big admirer of Olly Murphy’s novice (9/4 with BetVictor) since his debut Bumper success at Hereford and I feel he can improve especially if there is a better gallop than at the Berkshire track.
Twelve go to post in the Cleeve Hurdle including Black Op (3.35) who steps up in trip and reverts to hurdles having not looked a natural over fences in his two starts so far this term. I feel he has been crying out for three miles and at 4/1 who are paying four places on the race – I will be disappointed if he doesn’t run a big race.
Enola Gay (1.15)
The King’s Writ (1.50)
Elegant Escape (2.25)
Black Op (3.35)
Over at Doncaster and I feel On Tour can go close despite all his eight career wins under rules coming in the first half of the season. Marginal preference, however, goes to Willie Boy (3.15) who has yet to prove he stays today’s 3m trip – has won a point over the distance – but ran a career best when running away with a Wetherby handicap over 2m 4f last time.
The handicapper has had his say and the Charlie Longsdon-trained 8-y-old is 9lbs higher, but he can reward each way support at 11/1 who are paying 4 places (1/5th odds) in this 11-runner contest.
Alan King saddles the favourite (Dingo Dollar) in the big one but I hope he can strike 35-minutes later courtesy of Mahlermade (3.50) who has run two good races over fences at Taunton but should be more at home on this big galloping track.
Willie Boy (3.15)
Over at Uttoxeter and I hope to see Black Tulip (3.25) run a big race for Henry Daly in the Mares’ handicap Chase. The selection is 2lbs higher than when runner up at Cheltenham last time and this softer ground and step up in trip should suit.
The penny finally dropped with Keep Moving (4.00) at Warwick last time and he can follow up from a 9lbs higher mark. A market move for Carole’s Vigilante would be worth noting.
Black Tulip (3.25)
Keep Moving (4.00)