While I’ll be enjoying the end of season party atmosphere on Town Moor – some 200 miles south west a key fixture in the National Hunt calendar will be cranking up at Wincanton.
I love a good day out at the Somerset venue, a proper old-fashioned galloping track with big stiff fences and a clued-up crowd who know their racing. That and the sight of numerous pairs of red and custard cords being proudly sported by the local fashionistas.
Just five go to post for a valuable pot at 2.50pm for the Totetentofollow Elite Hurdle, and I’m keen to take on the Champion Hurdler Katchit, who has a stiff task trying to concede a stone and more to some useful rivals.
Perhaps the ground was a little quicker than he’d have preferred when beaten by Snap Tie at Kempton last time, and he’s sure to improve for his first outing of the new season, but he’ll have to be right at the top of his game to get the better of some of these, including Paul Nicholls’ promising French recruit Takeroc, who finished second to Border Castle in Ayr’s Scottish Champion Hurdle when last seen back in April.
Takeroc may be seen to even better effect when allowed to concentrate solely on his chasing career, and I’m going to by-pass him in favour of having a couple of quid one of my favourite horses in training, popular dual-purpose campaigner Blythe Knight.
Nicely weighted, fit from the Flat, he has no problems regarding ground or trip, and trainer John Quinn and jockey Dougie Costello teamed up to win this in 2006 with 9/2 shot Crow Wood. I won’t be going all out, as despite the small field it’s a race to savour, but at around 7/1 with the bookmaker Paddy Power he can spring a minor surprise here, and add to a career tally which already includes big race hurdling success at Aintree, plus on the level a win and a second in the Lincoln, a key listed race at Chester, plus successive victories in Epsom’s Diomed Stakes.
The next race on the card is the Badger Ales Trophy Handicap Chase at 3.25pm, a race in which there are question marks about plenty of the main protagonists.
Once again I’m keen to take on the favourite, which looks likely to be Paul Nicholls’ Leading Attraction; this is only the seven-year-olds fifth racecourse appearance, and he’s going to need all Ruby Walsh’s experience to guide him around these challenging fences if his jumping at Taunton back in April is anything to go by.
With that in mind, I’m happy to look to the bottom of the weights and a young horse with a big future; Tom George’s Island Flyer.
At likely odds of 11/2 with Ladbrokes he’s a progressive type, unbeaten over fences, and a danger to all off his light weight. A former Irish point-to-point winner, he can continue to improve after his summer break, and with Paddy Brennan continuing the partnership he can maintain his winning sequence.
Finally, there’s also a decent card at Sandown, and word reaches me that Alan King’s new boy Bensalem is considered way above average, and can take a hand in the concluding bumper at 4.05pm.
Tom’s Wincanton & Sandown Tips
- 2:50 Wincanton (Saturday) Blythe Knight to win @ best morning price
- 3:25 Wincanton (Saturday) Island Flyer to win @ best morning price
- 4:05 Sandown (Saturday) Bensalem to win @ best morning price
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Posted 9 years, 8 months ago