Our resident pundit has four selections as he bids to get the week off to a flying start.
BRAZTIME (best price 15-2) did more than enough on debut at Leicester to suggest she will win plenty of races in time and she’s worth a small interest to find out whether that success will come sooner rather than later. Slowly away in the early stages at the Midland venue, Richard Hannon’s filly took a while to find top stride, but once she realised what was required of her, it was encouraging to see her finish off her race to some effect. Sure to be a good deal more streetwise following that initial performance, the daughter of Canford Cliffs will hopefully go well at a nice each-way price providing she handles the Fibresand surface at the first time of asking.
Ilzam won well enough over the C&D two weeks ago, but at the same time, it would have been interesting to see how BERLUSCA (best price 11-2) would have fared had he obtained a clear run in the latter stages. Held up as per usually, David O’Meara’s charge was coming with what appeared to be a potent challenge rounding the home turn and into the straight when his path was blocked up the inside rail and his jockey had to ease him down when all chance had gone. Where he would have finished is complete guesswork, although it would be difficult to argue with the case made for him being a big player in the final outcome had his run been a smooth one. Clearly at home at the Dunstall Park venue, this seven-time course winner has to rate the value percentage call to at least give the Marco Botti-trained horse something to think about at the very least.
WALKABOUT (best price 9-4) has been knocking hard on the door of late and there would be no horse more deserving of success if it were to open for him this evening. Placed in his last three outings, all of those performances have been achieved in strongly-run and competitive handicap hurdles and with the latest of those efforts going some way to confirm his current wellbeing and consistency, Gordon Elliot’s inmate can resume winnings way around a track that should play into his strengths (best form on sharp, right-handed courses).
BLACK LABEL (NAP) (best price 5-1) gave the impression at Galway last time out that 2m, even on a stiff track, was too short for him nowadays over hurdles and he’s given another chance to justify the money in his direction at Ballybrit. Backed from 25-1 to 5-1, Ado McGuiness’ inmate was probably given too much to do in the context of how the race panned out eight days ago, but doing plenty of good work on the run-in, he gave out clear signals that a step up in trip may see him in a much better light. Indeed, if you take his last run on the Flat as a guide when he chased home the recent multiple winner Xsquared, the son of stayed an extended two miles on the level really well that day and now returning to the scene of his only win over hurdles so far to date, the son of Medicean must have a decent chance of adding to that tally off bottom weight.