Friday, October 19, 2018

Early season temptations

Good Lord, it all seems decidedly early in the season to be talking Grand Nationals!

Gordon Elliott has sent Jury Duty and Clarcam over to contest the American Grand National at Far Hills in New Jersey. Other British runners in the field include Jaleo trained by Ben Pauling, Tornado Watch from the Emmet Mullins yard and Hammersly Lake trained by Charlie Longsdon.

The last-named has a race a little nearer to home named to wish him all the very best; eleven have been declared for tomorrow's 4.55 at Ffos Las: 'Hammersly Lake Good Luck in America Tonight Handicap Chase'.

Kempton's Sunday card is the best jumps action on this side of the Atlantic this weekend.

Only four have been declared for the listed 'Matchbook Time To Move Over Novices' Hurdle' at 3.05 but I'll be interested to see how Itchy Feet shapes up.

After his win at Southwell the last day trainer Olly Murphy said 'I wouldn't be afraid of going up in class with him'. Connections have certainly taken that jump up in class and on Racing Post Ratings Itchy Feet has some 20 lengths to find with likely favourite Leapaway who is going for the six-timer. At present the market is suggesting it's going to be competitive.

Two of the field in the handicap chase at 3.40 have had a recent run and the tissue this evening prices both around the 7/1 mark. Oliver's Hill won this race last year off a mark of 116 and will try to repeat the trick off a mark of 127 having got up to beat Peppay Le Pugh at Fontwell 15 days ago.

Valhalla has a mixed profile. His third behind Ontopoftheworld and I'dliketheoption at Newton Abbot at the beginning of the month was a decent pipe-opener although the winner that day has since been well beaten by Mercian King at Worcester. Colin Tizzard's string seems well forward - Mick Thonic (12/1) ran a creditable race from the front earlier today at Wincanton, beaten half a length by Equus Amadeus.

Last year Ballybolley beat Master Dee into third in the Prelude Handicap Chase (Market Rasen 4.00). The pair meet again this year with Connor Brace claiming ten pounds on Fergal O'Brien's charge. Only eight in the field but a very competitive affair nonetheless; Master Dee would have to be of interest at around 9/2.

To my mind the most interesting race of the day is the Smerdon Tree Novices' Chase (Ffos Las 3.55). I like the Tizzard-trained Vision Des Flos but he's a very short-priced favourite and this looks hot. A race to watch closely with the future in mind...

The temptations are there but I'm going to keep my powder dry for the long season ahead. And anyway, I'm off to Ludlow on Thursday!

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