Steve Ryder is back with three selections for today's action, including two runners at Catterick and one at Wincanton.
Despite pulling up on his previous two starts following a break, SHARP RESPONSE (best priced at 3-1) looks worth backing at Catterick where he boasts an unbeaten record. The Sue Smith trained eleven-year-old last won here in January 2019 off a mark of 134 on good ground before placing at Haydock on good to soft ground later that year off a mark of 138.
Sharp Response has pulled up on his previous two starts since a 725 day break but those have both been in much better races and more importantly on soft and heavy ground. The handicapper has dropped him 5lbs for his latest effort down to a mark of 122 so he is clearly well handicapped and can now drop into this Class 4 0-120 veterans’ race off top weight. He gets the good ground that he will relish and he should prove hard to beat if he retains any of his old ability.
The Harriet Brown trained TRUMP LADY (best priced at 5-1) sprung a surprise last time winning by 8 ½ lengths at 40/1 but she should hold strong claims under a 7lb penalty. The seven-year-old was previously good enough to win a Warwick mares’ novices’ hurdle in December 2020 which earnt her a handicap rating of 118 but she had dropped all of the way down to a mark of 100 following some below par performances since leaving the Nick Mitchell yard.
The handicapper has raised Trump Lady 10lbs for her 8 ½ length victory at Exeter eight days ago but instead she runs here under a 7lb penalty so is 3lbs “well in” at the weights. If she repeats the form of her latest run then she will be difficult to keep out of the frame and should run well.
I am hoping that Sue Smith has a good day today at Catterick as I also think AIRE VALLEY LAD (best priced at 9-4) should prove hard to beat in this race. The eight-year-old had a disappointing season last year but that has meant the gelding has become well handicapped. He finished only a length behind the winner Balranald last time at Sedgefield with the pair pulling 18 lengths clear of the third. That was his first run in cheekpieces and it was also reported that he “finished with a wound on his left fore” so that run can probably be upgraded.
The handicapper has raised Aire Valley Lad 2lbs for that run up to a mark of 94 which seems very fair and it is interesting that connections switch the cheekpieces straight away for first-time blinkers for this race. Thomas Willmott claims a handy 5lbs off Aire Valley Lad in this race and I think he should prove hard to beat.