This event appears a toss of the coin between Moon Racer and Ballyandy who renew rivalry after virtually finishing upsides at Perth. The pounds and ounces followers will tell you they are weighted to reverse placings this afternoon, but that isn’t necessarily a theory I buy with Ballyandy’s improved fitness surely more of a factor. However, there isn’t much juice in either’s price so I’d rather take a small chance on MOVEWITHTHETIMES (Best price 9-1) even if he has plenty to find with the main protagonists. The selection boasts enormous potential and managed to win at Fontwell on his comeback despite displaying his inexperience so it is difficult to gauge how much was left in the tank at the line. There is every chance Movewiththetimes may find this company too much of a test at this stage of his embryonic career, but at 9-1 I’m happy to pay to find out.£10 Free Credit and a £500 Deposit Bonus
Paul Nicholls has made the Racing Post Arkle Trial his own in recent seasons and he boasts an obvious candidate in Le Prezien to enhance this impressive strike rate. The market leader shaped with any amount of promise at Uttoxeter on his chasing bow and this stiffer track will suit. Unfortunately, the layers have installed Le Prezien at odds on which means he isn’t of a lot of interest to this columnist so, as a fan of Henry De Bromhead, I’m happy to take a chance with one of his two runners THREE STARS (Best price 6-1). The Grade 3 Hurdle winner has impressed on his two chase starts since returning from a summer break and his latest victory at Punchestown was achieved courtesy of some excellent jumping and a high cruising speed. His stable do wonderfully well with their British raiders, especially two-mile chasers, and he is narrowly preferred to Some Plan as a viable alternative to the favourite.
The weights and measures crew will suggest TOP GAMBLE (Best price 15-2) doesn’t have a prayer of winning the Shloer Chase and time may well prove them correct. However, Kerry Lee’s progressive eight-year-old is one of few horses in the race who will appreciate genuine soft ground and he is worth chancing even if the lack of a recent run precludes total confidence. I have always felt, rightly or wrongly, that both Fox Norton and Special Tiara are better horses on a sounder surface, while Simonsig has been a horse beset by problems in recent seasons. Top Gamble remains a horse on the up and the selection wound up an impressive campaign by slamming Sizing Granite by seven lengths in March at Firehouse. Admittedly, he must concede weight to all, but more of a concern is the quiet start his yard has made to the season. That said, Jonjo O’Neill was bang out of nick heading into yesterday’s action and we all know how that panned out.
There is every chance HARGAM (Best price 28-1) is present in the Stanjames.com Greatwood Hurdle field to purely ensure Winter Escape and Modus enjoy handy racing weights. The trio are of course owned by JP McManus and Hargam is clearly the least fancied of his runners but, with five places up for grabs in the odd place this morning, I think he is worth a small each-way play. Firstly, this is the first handicap the five-year-old will have contested and, as we witnessed yesterday with Taquin Du Seuil, a class drop into handicaps from small-field Graded races can often work the oracle. A game defeat of Court Minstrel at Kempton hardly screams Greatwood winner, but it is worth recalling that the selection was only beaten seven lengths by Faugheen in the Christmas Hurdle so remains a classy hurdler on his day. NORTH HILL HARVEY (Best price 7-1) is one that has been on the radar for this race ever since he routed a tidy bunch of novices over course and distance before Christmas. It is unlikely Dan Skelton has left him short of fitness for this examination and he would surely have hunted up Altior in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the festival in March but for a shuddering error two hurdles from home.
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