Bangor’s turf meeting has been abandoned due to waterlogging with the track now losing its last four meetings due to the horrible weather experienced in South Wales over the winter. The National Hunt cards at both Kempton and Wetherby should survive the elements and Cobra De Mai (1.20) a confident selection in the opener at the latter under for Dan and Harry Skelton.
The selection was far from disgraced when fifth at Warwick on his British debut and bettered than last time out at Newbury when finishing third behind Clan Des Obeaux, 25/1 with BetVictor for next month’s Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, when doing his best work at the finish under Ian Popham. He should relish the forecast heavy ground to make it third time lucky for connections.
Walking in the Air (3.35) hasn’t been sighted since disappointing on soft ground on Exeter’s Haldon Gold Cup card in November but remains open to further improvement and can complete doubles for the Skelton brothers in the Novices’ Hurdle over two and a half miles.
The selection was a beaten favourite for his hurdles debut when failing to see out the 2m 5f trip on bottomless ground but the form of that race has worked out well with the first and second now rated 142 and 146 respectively. He is given another chance and is taken to get the better of Neil Alexander’s Lake View Lad, who carries a penalty for his impressive success last month at Ayr.
A field of six go to post for the feature 3m Handicap Chase with Lucinda Russell’s Jack Steel still unexposed of fences and respected should the ground dry out overnight. He may struggle to see this afternoon’s trip out however, and preference lies instead with Kerry Lee’s Goodtoknow (4.10) under regular partner Jake Greenall.
The selection has been the model of consistency since being sent over the larger obstacles, putting his best foot forward in similarly bottomless ground when winning a 3m Handicap Chase at Bangor. The eight-year-old hasn’t scored over fences subsequently, but has finished second on four of his next ten starts and can continue the excellent form of the stable at the expense of Malcolm Jefferson’s top-weight King of the Wolds.
The form figures of Charlie Mann’s Cody Wyoming (2.25) boasts more letters than numbers, pulled-up on his last three starts over fences, but he has come down 3lb in the weights and looks well-placed to give weight and a beating to his three rivals under Daryl Jacob.
The selection loves it when the mud’s flying, winning three times over fences last season on soft ground over this trip, and is now just 3lb higher than when beating the progressive Pearls Legend at Catterick last January.
There’s an excellent card at Kempton where God’s Own and Josses Hill, second and third behind Un De Sceaux in last season’s Arkle, renew rivalry in the feature Graduation Chase over two and a half miles. Both are respected but are both better over the minimum trip and, after shedding the maiden tag over fences last time out at Market Rasen, Venetia Williams’ Aso (3.15) gets the nod to follow-up under Aidan Coleman.
The gelding stayed on strongly to beat Ballyalton, second behind Faugheen in the Neptune at the 2014 Cheltenham Festival, when shedding the maiden tag over fences at the belated fourth time of asking and can carry on his progression en-route to a crack at the Cheltenham Festival thereafter. The six-year-old is 66/1 for the Arkle Chase on the opening day of the festival, 33/1 in the betting without odds-on favourite Douvan, and 33/1 with BetVictor for the Thursday’s two and a half mile contest with that his more likely destination should he score impressively this afternoon.
Ned Stark remains of interest with Alan King’s string in excellent order, but is much better going left-handed, whereas David Pipe’s Standing Ovation (3.50) has won five times going right-handed over fences and must go close in a competitive renewal of the 3m Handicap Chase.
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