Former Talksport man Charlie McCann marks your card with nine to follow at Ludlow, Market Rasen, Wincanton and Meydan. View selections below
It has been a frustrating time for Victor Dartnall, whose string have been largely out of sorts so far this term, although Mic’s Delight ran very well last time at Taunton last month from the same mark as he can today and is one of a number of, potentially, well handicapped animals in the yard. If there was market support for him in Wincanton’s feature race I might be tempted but the stable had a fancied horse pulled up at Exeter earlier in the week and Mic’s Delight is, reluctantly, overlooked.
Bennys Mist is interesting dropping back in trip but Forest Walker (1.50) has been dropped 2lbs by the handicapper after jumping poorly at Kempton last time although he was still there three out on that occasion over 3m. This drop back in trip should suit and, if his jumping passes the test, he can get his head back in front.
Yellow Ball is a fascinating contender in the Somerset National slipping down the weights for Venetia Williams but the mare has disappointed since coming over from France and might need more time to acclimatise; Monkerty Tunkerty didn’t get home at Plumpton (3m 5f) last time and I’m not convinced is an out and out stayer and the nod goes to Samstown (2.20) who comes down from the Borders for Alistair Whillans. The selection could make up into a decent stayer in attritional conditions and was doing all his best work too late over 3 miles in the Tommy Whittle at Haydock last time.
At Ludlow Taffy Thomas is returning from a two-month break and running from a mark 3lbs lower than when last successful; this prestigious amateur rides’ event has attracted a very good field but with the Bowen yard not exactly firing I am going to take a chance with the top-weight Shalimar Fromentro (2.10) who attracted significant support for Nick Williams in a X-Country event at Cheltenham last month. The grey plies his trade almost exclusively in France these days but in well handicapped on form from his novice chase days.
Rio De Sivola (3.10) can return to winning ways having bumped into one at Ascot last time from a 3lbs lower mark; Richard Johnson takes over in the saddle and the selection can make most in another competitive event.
The third right-handed jumps card of the day is at Market Rasen and I hope Joanne One (2.30) can extend her winning run to four having had a two-month break since sluicing up in a mares’ event at Exeter back in November. As is the owner’s prerogative McCoy take over today and a mark of 120 looks fair for her handicap debut.
The feature 2m 2f handicap Chase might not take a great deal of winning and the interesting one is Upepito (3.00) making his British debut; the selection is currently 66/1 for the BetVictor Queen Mother Champion Chase (Non Runner No Bet) with the sponsors and that entry would look fanciful, to put it mildly, if he didn’t run well today off his current handicap mark.
I’m not convinced Presence Felt (3.30) really wants 2m 6f on soft ground but there was much to like about his chase debut at Haydock and I hope he is ridden with a little more restraint this afternoon. Richie McLernon keeps the ride with McCoy taking the mount on Ultimatum Du Roy who looks a big danger after his promising effort at Newbury last month.
We kicked off the Dubai Carnival with a good winner last Thursday and in the Guineas’ Trials I expect Autumn Lily (3.05) and Emirates Flyer (3.40) to go close for Godolphin who made such an excellent start last week.
In Ireland it is great to see unbeaten chaser Last Instalment back in action at Thurles following a 700-day lay-off after a tendon injury suffered when landing a Grade 1 at Leopardstown almost two years ago. He is one to follow later in the season but in an excellent renewal of the Kinloch Brae Chase I go for Texas Jack (2.45) below par in two starts so far this season but the Noel Meade yard weren’t firing at the time and he has his optimum conditions today for Paul Carberry.