Graham Wylie’s four-year-old made Irish raider Steps To Freedom, who was on a hat-trick, pull out all the stops at Cheltenham, then lowered the colours of All The Aces (easy winner since) at Newbury in November. Paul Nicholls pitched him in against some older and more experienced handicap hurdlers in the Ladbroke Hurdle and Prospect Wells stuck on gamely into fourth. In a fascinating little quality contest, he may just have the measure of principal rival Colour Squadron, winner of a Newbury maiden hurdle from Montbazen in December. On a strict formline through third-placed Ericht, Colour Squadron has the beating of Prospect Wells, but something looked amiss with Ericht that day at Newbury and Prospect Wells will be a tough nut to crack under Ruby Walsh.
KING EDMUND (2.05) represents the less fashionable combination of Chris Gordon and Tom Cannon but this consistent chaser is the each-way value in the 32Red handicap chase. After some sterling efforts in defeat, King Edmund finally poked his head in front at Ascot in mid-December and may be capable of defying a 7lb rise in the ratings.
Irons On Fire did us a nice turn at Lingfield last Saturday, but I’m not sure a drop to 10 furlongs is what he wants in slightly better company. KING’S COLOUR (12.40) hacked up over course and distance in mid-December from Potentiale and Wisecraic (winner since) and can race here off the same mark.
The opening Lingfield maiden should be a lively betting affair. Macdonald Mor looked a sure-fire future winer when chasing home Trumpet Major at Goodwood in May but, thereafter, it was downhill all the way, culminating in a poor effort at Ffos Las in September when stepped up to a mile from six furlongs. Macdonald Mor is asked to go a further two furlongs and CAPE SAFARI (12.10) looks the safer option, having finished a promising third to favourite Tina’s Spirit five weeks ago. The winner was rated 75 and a repeat performance would give Cape Safari every chance in this grade. Josam, beaten a neck in a tight finish at Kempton, may prove the chief threat, given that third horse Oratorian scored at Kempton on Wednesday.
PIPERS PIPING (3.55) is a tricky customer and hasn’t looked the ideal mount for his girl riders in recent outings. He may benefit from stronger handling here and should go off an each-way price. Pipers Piping can take a strong tug, so a strong early pace would be helpful.
Compare horse racing odds and bet at the best prices