Not been feeling good all week so this will be a shorter than usual write up but it in no means should suggest I am less optimistic than usual about the chances of any of my selections. Keeping formalities to a bare minimum this weekend I head into the form card with two highlighted prospects that cover the main events at both Lingfield and Newbury.
The first of the two races scheduled is the 2.40 EBF Ultima Business Solutions Mares' Novices' Hurdle Finale (Listed Handicap) where connections of Kentford Grey Lady try to go one better than at Cheltenham just 11 days ago. Punters have been keen to back her but the likelihood unfortunately is that she will only place at best given she put so much into her effort last time out. High weights have a poor record in the race when ridden by non-claiming jockeys and this is another valid point that makes her of no value at the current prices.
Several of her rivals have claims but various elements have conspired to make me stay clear. A famous tipster has relinquished any value there might have been in backing Josh's Dreamway with his odds now collapsed into 9-1. Fortunately at 8.30am this morning Boylesports tried to resort to some fair play tactics by returning to their opening 20-1 price for small stakes; this lasted for all of 90 seconds however!
Miss Milborne tempted me at a price this morning but upon reading trainer Jamie Snowden's blog he indicated that his runner had suffered some small setbacks in the run up to this event. That is telling me unfortunately to stay clear whatever the price.
Several in the field look fair value for this race but the classiest runner carrying a low weight has got to be CUE TO CUE who has been contesting the majority of her races against the boys. It is however the form she showed in a Graded Mares' event at Doncaster over an insufficient distance that makes her stand out upon being rated at just 118 by the British Handicapper.
The 3.25PM Bluesquare Winter Derby (Group 3) at Lingfield is always a hot contest and this years rendition should prove no different with 113 flat performer Premio Loco lined up. He will have a 5lb penalty to possibly put pay to his winning chance and having had more than a dozen glances at the race this week I feel an improver is set to score.
Historically it has paid well to concentrate on horses rated above 100 which would narrow the field down to a possible list of SEVEN if I was to take that route. My ploy though is to look towards the younger and more progressive age group of 4yo's and suggest this race could go the way of JUNOOB.
On one hand he has a current rating of 95 but there is no denying that had this race taken place in a couple of months his rating would have soared to over 100 in that length of time. Formerly trained by Amy Weaver who incredibly showed her limited ability of noticing a capable performer by running this horse in a claimer on just his SIXTH career start.
Tom Dascombe was the lucky recipient and quickly acknowledged the horse had been held back with his progression during his early career days. First time out he was lined up for a Listed event over C&D and was denied by a head from taking the prize. He illustrated his progression by beating that same rival in the Winter Derby Trial last month when winning the event whilst going away.
This venue clearly suits the horse and the progressive nature of his profile coinciding with his favourable draw in stall two, means he can have little excuse for not showing further improvement once more. The only drawback is the removal of Suits Me who looked certain to make this a challenging pace and with no obvious replacement the race could come down to the best tactics on the day. Awkward, but I placed my bet on Wednesday and overall I am still a believer in his chance at the current odds of 11-2.