A couple of Class 3’s and headlined by a Class 2 means that this is no ordinary opening jumps fixture for Southwell and there certainly is a bit more class on show that you’d expect at this time of year. Read on for my Southwell betting preview as I take on the £3,000 Place 6 and join my Syndicate.
Southwell betting preview
12:00 – NOVICES’ HANDICAP CHASE – 2M 4 ½F
These types of race usually show up a significant improvement in some horses given that they’re eligible to race off their OR earned while jumping the smaller obstacles. This means all is not lost for those who underwhelmed over hurdles for connections and in fact they can find themselves racing on very good terms. NINEOHTWOONEOH for JP McManus and Paul Nicholls will shoulder top weight along with TOQUAY and ZEN MASTER.
He’s the only one of that trio who is yet to jump a fence in public and given the other two have 11 chase starts with no wins under the belts you’d feel JP has a horse with the potential to improve a bundle in this sphere. He did hang in his last two hurdle races (both handicaps, both times short priced fav) and before that he sported a first time tongue tie but was reported after the race to have struggled with breathing (I’m attributing it to the tie) so he’s clearly not straightforward. He also doesn’t jump out from his breeding but to keep it in perspective this is a 0-105 race so we’re not exactly looking for a potentially graded performer here.
OXWICH BAY is another who has Chase experience under his belt and was sent off 2/1f last season in a similar event so looks to be more attractive than most others but GLENGAR right at the foot of the weights would be the only runner away from the likely short priced fav I’d be slightly interested in. He’s winless under rules (like a good deal of this field) but his best point to point run came at the third attempt when 2nd on Good to Firm ground. The winner that day (making his debut) has come out and won again since). He fell on his previous point start when travelling OK behind a horse called PORT STANLEY who was placed in bumpers behind ENVOI ALLEN & ABACADABRAS. It’s loose form lines for sure, but he should be up to winning races off this lowly mark of 85 and Harry Reed claims a further 3 off his back.
Selections – NINEOHTWOONEOH, GLENGAR
12:35 – HANDICAP CHASE – 2M
Leg two of the Southwell betting preview is a 0-135 Handicap with 8/12 rated in excess of 120 and it’s not a bad looking little race. AZZURI tops the weights with a mark of 134 but he’s actually peaked at 144 only last summer and his best form has come on this quicker ground so he’s certainly already near the top of the list. We know that the Skelton’s like to, and usually do, kick off the season with plenty of winners and he’s had a pipe opener on the flat. This will be the first time he’s raced in this low a class since 2018. He’s 2 from 2 over course and distance when landing two Novice Chases with RPR’s of 131 and 128 respectively so he’s here with a very attractive chance.
TIDAL WATCH had a busy and productive season last term on the summer jumps but races 7lbs higher than his hurdle mark (which itself climbed almost a stone last term) after drawing clear at Newton Abbot only to fall at the last. That was in open company like here and he does go well fresh but others might just be better treated. He does still have the option of Novice Handicap Chases, but as touched on earlier, some runners can have a good amount in hand and off 132 he’s likely going to come up against some smart horses so I wouldn’t suggest that this is a prep run for a later date but I wouldn’t discount him next time out if he were to run ‘poorly’ then get dropped a few lbs off the back of it.
CRACKING DESTINY has won twice since joining new connections and is another who has had a prep run before this. Ground will suit and solid enough form last season in the context of this race (8l behind a now 151 rated horse receiving 8lbs and had BALLYVIC BORU 33 lengths behind who is currently rated 7lb below him) so while he’s off a 15lb higher mark than when last winning, I’d think he’s got races in him this term and I would expect he’s ready to do himself justice in here
Selections – AZZURI, TIDAL WATCH, CRACKING DESTINY
13:10 – NATIONAL HUNT FLAT RACE – 2M
Steady looking race for a summer bumper but the one who jumps straight off the final declarations is THE GREATER GOOD for The Owners Group. Now he might just show himself to be a very ground dependant runner, but his point win was very impressive and he should make into a fair novice hurdler this season. I’d suggest this looks like a nice opportunity to get some racecourse experience before being sent over obstacles but I really dislike a horse running first time up following a wind op and sporting a tongue tie. It screams out that the horse has an issue or he’s not been showing as much as expected at home. That’s enough to dampen any enthusiasm in terms of betting but at the very least he’s a solid looking yardstick.
Fergal O’Brien saddles two in here but it’s ULTIMATE GETAWAY that might just be the preference on jockey bookings. His only finish in points came on soft ground but it could be that this lad just didn’t want the distance he faced in those races but I’d want to see him race under rules before I could set an expectation for him. LUNAR SOVEREIGN is his other runner who is a flat bred ex Goldolphin horse. I’d have little excitement about him.
Tom Lacey has produced some fine bumper winners in recent years and he’s represented by ARDLAIR with Richard Johnson on board. Not the most exciting breeding with only 1 winner from his siblings but that did come around here for this trainer and jockey combination, albeit over hurdles and he’s another runner sporting a tongue tie on debut.
Selection – THE GREATER GOOD
13:40 – HANDICAP HURDLE – 2M 4 ½F
0-105 Handicap Hurdles wouldn’t be my usual contest of choice and you’ve only got to look at top weight FLINTROCK in the fourth leg of the Southwell betting preview to see why. One time winner on the flat now sporting cheekpieces for handicap debut after 4 hurdle runs with just 3 completed (PU over 2m7f on hurdle bow) beaten 99L. He was behind Supreme winner SHISKIN in one of those runs though. Had a flat pipe opener when he was slowly away so looks a bit of a difficult horse to manage but I’m always sceptical about how hard horses like this might have tried before earning their opening handicap mark so he’s one I could see running OK
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT would be the first horse of moderate interest given he’s a winner last time which the trainer attributed to the removal of his hood following wind op (twice ran with the hood post wind op). Now the second that day has won since and is now rated 116 which is 12lb higher than this lads new mark and he was giving that runner 4lbs. So there’s huge potential that he can ran well off this mark but the quicker the ground the better
BLACK ANTHEM did a good bit of improving while in Dr Richard Newlands hands but having left to join Tom Lacey I’m not sure I can expect any improvement over hurdles yet he might be one for fences after this. That said, he’s capable of being to the fore in a race like this despite not having anything in hand from this mark it would appear
TEL’ART doesn’t look straightforward at all but he was sent off 9/4 fav in a similar event last season when making mistakes. The cheek pieces didn’t help at all after but he’s very inconsistent so the fact they’ve been left on wouldn’t worry me and should run well in this if on a going day.
JOSIE ABBING is worth a mention also given the price she started the last day at about this trip and on good ground. Her Irish form peaks on better ground and she’s young enough and lightly raced so should have more to come
Selections – FLINTROCK, CAN YOU BELIEVE IT, BLACK ANTHEM, TEL’ART, JOSIE ABBING
14:10 – NOVICES’ HURDLE – 2M
ENEMY COAST AHEAD should take the world of beating in here and bar him this doesn’t look a very deep race. RHOSNEIGR has to shoulder a penalty which should prove very hard to do against the selection who looks to want better ground to show his best. His bumper win and hurdler second are by far the best bits of form and he should have plenty more to come
Selection – ENEMY COAST AHEAD
14:40 – NOVICES’ HURDLE – 2M
The final leg of my Southwell betting preview sees division two of the Novices Hurdle and it’s Olly Murphys charge again who draws the eye with SANGHA RIVER. He hasn’t been seen for over 800 days so clearly has had issues but is a horse with enough ability to make his presence felt here even if I do have him pitched as a middle distance or staying prospect. ASHUTOR for Paul Nicholls has a 7lb penalty which is enough to temper enthusiasm given how inconsistent he’s been however he’s had the flat prep run for this.
CAPTAIN TOM CAT for Dr Richard Newland should be a fair enough price and despite completing only 2 of his 4 points and being beaten wide margins in both of those he face some serious horses including champion bumper winner FERNY HOLLOW and £375,000 sales ring purchase LET’S GO CHAMP.
Selections – ASHUTOR, SANGHA RIVER, CAPTAIN TOM CAT
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