As the start to 2019 has been quite tough, it’s delightful for the mind when getting it (finally) right. Southfield Stone (10/1) did that quite nicely yesterday to land the Grade 2 Dovecote Novices’ Hurdle, despite the little fright a the end. He looks a nice prospect, though maybe will turn out to be an even better chase?
That’s a second winner this week (Zylan, 7/1, Thursday) – but of course what sticks in my little head is the one that got away: Gendarme on Friday at Lingfield, ahead before and after the line, it would have been the well needed ‘big one’….
Anyway, better to focus on what’s ahead. Cheltenham, obviously. Trials Day at Naas today for a starter. I’m more interested in the Handicaps there and have a selection (see below), otherwise I am all geared up getting my trends, stats and tissues ready for this one week of craziness that is approaching rather rapidly now!
4.35 Naas: Handicap Chase, 3 miles
I quite like the favourite Mon Lino back over fences of his lower mark here, but at the same time he is hard to trust and not a backable price.
Much more interesting is King’s Son, who is also back over fences and who could find ideal conditions to return to form. The nine-year-old changed yard over the winter and hasn’t shown much in his first two starts for the Broad yard, but over hurdles and 2 miles he was never in it to win it.
His latest 4th place finish in the Cross-Country at Punchestown is a clear return to some sort of good form, on the other hand. And now down to a mark of 111, he appears to be weighted to go close. His UK form from last summer in particular gives him a significant chance here, if in the mood.
Ground and trip are absolutely ideal and 7lb claiming Kevin Brogan looks a good prospect in the saddle, his claim is a big bonus today I feel. This does not look an overly competitive race, so it could be a fine bit of placing by his new trainer.
10pts win – King’s Son @ 15/2 MB
4.55 Fontwell: Maiden NHF, 2m1½f
Normally not my type of race, however, I do feel quite strongly about the chance of Thunderstruck as he is overpriced here. He was quite an expensive purchase, is clearly well bread and ran promising on his rules debut at the end of last year at Sandown.
That form isn’t particularly strong, but the Fame And Glory gelding should have learned plenty that day. The tough going was clearly not to his likening then, so he’ll likely enjoy the return to much better ground today.
It’s the only ride for Aiden Coleman and the only runner for trainer Emma Lavelle today also. I feel Thunderstruck should be closer matched in the market to the two leading principles.
10pts win – Thunderstruck @ 9/2 MB