There was the prospect of significant rain across much of Britain on Wednesday but the forecast for Perth suggests the track will miss much of that rain and the ground should be a mixture of good and good to soft for today’s nine-race card.
In the opener The Composeur (1.10) encountered good ground once last term and that resulted in an emphatic Huntingdon success back in February – albeit from a 10lbs higher mark. He was bogged down in the Catterick mud on his most recent start later in the month, but this winning pointer has more to offer this term especially when turning his attentions to fences later in the season.
Nigel Twiston-Davies has a good record at this meeting and his Milanstorm and top-weight Always Tipsy are considered the main dangers in a competitive three mile handicap hurdle.
Not That Fuisse will appreciate the underfoot conditions but barely gets two-and-a-half miles and the two to concentrate on in the Novice Chase look to be Saglawy – having his first start over jumps for Paul Nicholls – and Redford (2.15) with preference for the latter a Grade 2 winner over hurdles.
The selection will appreciate further in time and the Twiston-Davies stable have saddled the winner of the corresponding race three times in the last four years and six times in the last decade with horses of the calibre of Double Ross, Ballyandy and Wholestone.
Stoner’s Choice is likely to be all the rage in the Novice Hurdle having finished second here at Perth last month when he failed to jump with any fluency. He looks sure to have been extensively schooled by Fergal O’Brien in the interim period, but I was taken with Copperless (3.25) on his racecourse debut when third in a Lingfield – polytrack – Bumper back in November. Olly Murphy has given his charge a wind operation for his first start over hurdles, but he is related to a number of winners over timber and is a fascinating newcomer.
Plenty of rain forecast for Pontefract on Wednesday and top-weight Soft Whisper (1.30) can take the fillies’ nursery despite a 6lbs rise for scoring at Salisbury last time. That success was her first start over a mile and she also appreciated the good to soft ground. The Saeed bin Suroor team are in good form and jockey Kevin Stott is fast becoming the stable’s go-to jockey in the north.
Not So Sleepy improved over hurdles last winter and returns from a six-month break in the mile-and-a-half handicap. This looks a suitable steppingstone for another crack at the Cesarewitch next race – a race he finished fourth in last year.
He must go close and it will be interesting to see if Graham Lee makes the running on the eight-year-old but he faces a tough nut to crack courtesy of the inform Dark Jedi (2.40) who has improved for the step up in trip beyond 10f in recent starts.
The selection has been raised another 3lbs for finishing runner up at Haydock over 1m 6f last time, but the forecast rain will help, and he has improved in leaps and bounds since joining the yard of Tim Easterby.
The ITV cameras are at Newmarket for the first day of their Cambridgeshire meeting. The race that La Barrosa (3.00) won at Ascot usually throws up a good winner rather than a potential star, but I was very impressed with that debut success with the runner up – Derab – being a Sea The Stars half-brother to Enable. Both look exciting prospects and I hope to see the Charlie Appleby trained colt maintain his unbeaten record in the Gp 3 Tattersalls Stakes.
King Ragnar can race from the same mark as when runner up at Yarmouth last week although he has been raised by 2lbs in the weights from Saturday. Roger Varian again takes 5lbs from his back with leading apprentice Ray Dawson, but I am keen on First Winter (4.45) and hope it’s a good day for the Appleby yard.
The selection is 3lbs higher than when scoring at Sandown last time and that form has been franked by the subsequent victories of the second and third. I am hopeful that a draw out on the wing in stall eight is not an inconvenience.