Steve Ryder is back with three selections for today's action, with runners at Doncaster and Newcastle.
This looks a competitive 0-100 handicap hurdle but preference goes to recent course and distance winner HALF THE FREEDOM (best priced at 13/8). The Jonjo O’Neill trained seven-year-old ran well to finish 2nd on his reappearance at Worcester on his reappearance off a mark of 84 before disappointing at Exeter on his next start. He ran well to finish 5th at Ffos Las on his next start in first time cheekpieces before getting off the mark last time over this course and distance off a mark of 81.
The handicapper has raised Half The Freedom 5lbs for his 2 ¼ length success but the 6lb claim of Jamie Brace negates that rise. If he is in the same form as two weeks ago then he should prove hard to beat.
Bumper winner IMEPRIAL STORM (best priced at 4/1) was an impressive winner on his handicap debut at Wetherby and he can bounce back from a below par effort at Exeter a month ago. The Fergal O’Brien trained seven-year-old was well suited by a step up in trip to 3 miles at Wetherby in December where he won easily by 3 ¼ lengths.
The handicapper raised him 5lbs for that victory but the heavy ground at Exeter was blamed for his defeat next time. This return to better ground will suit him well and he should prove hard to beat off the same mark with Paddy Brennan taking over on board.
All five runners look in with a chance in this 0-70 apprentice handicap but preference goes to COMEDIAN LEADER (best priced at 7/4) despite a 6lb penalty. The Gay Kelleway trained three-year-old has good form on the AW with form figures of 43512111 including a course and distance win on her penultimate start. She won by ¾ length that day off a mark of 67 under Billy Loughnane before following up at Southwell on her next start off under a penalty.
Comedian Leader won well by two lengths under Jonny Peate that day and the handicapper has raised her up to a mark of 77. She instead runs here under a 6lb penalty meaning that she is 2lbs “well in” at the weights and I expect her to prove hard to beat.