Our first selection sees us at the midlands track for a Novices Hurdle over 2m3f that will likely show some decent types for the future and no more so than Nicky Henderson’s Maestro Royal. The form is a little sketchy after a comprehensive defeat to Thomas Brown at Newbury and a disappointing 4th on goodish ground at Market Rasen but there was a lot to like about his defeat of It’s a Sting at Huntingdon the last day.
It’s interesting that Barry Geraghty comes over from Ireland for one ride here and you would expect that is for a very good reason. The better ground wasn’t suited to the horse at Newbury and the softer surface should be more to his liking.
Of the others, the three who have a mark make the most appeal against the selection. Darryl Jacob (very unfairly not retained by Paul Nicholls) gets the ride on the top rated Ballbolley but the weight could be a problem, despite the excellent form of the rider in recent days. Like Sully won a heavy ground contest the last day at Plumpton but that form hasn’t really been franked since and he may be up against it here with a penalty to occupy him as well as the forecast quicker ground. Dolores Delightful makes up the final danger and possibly the most prominent one. She has hit the frame 4 times out of the last 5 including a victory at Wincanton last time out.
Maestro Royal (WIN)
AP McCoy is certainly clocking up the miles on his farewell tour and fresh from a day off and a sparkling performance at Doncaster on Wednesday where his ride on Milan Bound had to be seen to be believed, he heads to the other end of the country for a number of rides. Those rides include Mister Malt and whilst the horse hasn’t pulled up any trees so far this campaign
you’d be very hopeful based on his runs in 2013/14. Jonjo O’Neill’s horse seem to be coming into a semblance of form just in time for the festival and he runs a few good ones today. The horse haswon over the course before but not over this distance however this is tempered by the fact that his previous runs this season have been either side of this trip and whilst 2m5f may have been a touch sharp, 3miles completely emptied him out. With the amateur who rode him last time stepping aside, the 2m7f here could be ideal and drier weather will help him as the quicker the ground is the better chance the horse will have.
There are two notable dangers in this race in Absolutely Bygones and Dawson City. The latter got the better of the former the last day and another interesting battle could be on the cards with the handicapper taking a dim view of that success. Unlike the selection, Dawson City would want the ground to be on the softer side as all of his good runs have come on slower ground. Therefore if the ground gets too soft during the day it may pay to side with Dawson City but if the ground is decent stick with Master Malt.
Master Malt (E/W if 5/1+)
The 16:50 looks to be an excellent race which includes a few very decent types in here. Once again McCoy has a decent ride in Tara Road and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this one go close. I kid you not, every time I back
Sam Twiston-Davies he either falls off or loses by mis-judging the fractions of the race but I am going to follow him off a cliff again in this Novices Handicap chase over 3 miles. Whilst I personally think he has got the gig at Paul Nicholls yard too soon he is certainly going to be a huge star and he picks up MinellaHalfCentury here. Whilst the horse (like the selection at 16:20) has had some iffy runs he should be good enough to at least trouble the places here. His good runs have come in more testing ground and he also has had some decent efforts on good to soft.
Nicholls has been blasting the winners in on a Saturday and after he picked up another decent prize at the weekend he could be in amongst the winners here again. In all honesty though you could possibly make a claim
for all of these based on their best form and it could be a cracking contest. There is decent prize money on offer here and hopefully the selection will get it’s head in front.
by Dave Smith