For my first selection today we head to Wincanton for a novice hurdle run over two miles.
The one that appeals most in this contest is the David Pipe trained Brook who has his third hurdles start today. A mark of 129 would see him sneak in at the bottom of the handicap in the Fred Winter but you need to run three times to qualify for that contest. I have a feeling that his sights may be set higher and a run in the Triumph will be his most likely destination with a win here. With those points in mind, he looks the one that they all have to beat in this contest and does receive a nice eleven pound allowance from his main market rival.
If this contest saw Otago Trail meet the Pipe runner at level weights you would probably side with him, but eleven pounds is a lot to be conceding to a progressive rival. On the best of the form he has shown to date a mark in the 140 region looks well within his scope, but I think he may have to be capable of a mark in the 150+ range to take this if all run up to their marks. If the Pipe runner was to run below par, the seven year old looks the one that can capitalize.
Of the remainder Scoop The Pot is having his racecourse debut and any strong market support for him would make him of interest.
For my second selection today we stay at Wincanton for a tight five runner novice handicap chase, run over two miles.
My selection in this contest is the Colin Tizzard inmate Jumps Road, who has yet to break his maiden tag after seven chase starts. I am hoping that the return to the track where he has registered three wins over the smaller obstacles will see him finally get off the mark over fences. If connections have aspirations of running at the Cheltenham festival a rise from the handicapper would not go astray either.
Top weight Minella Definitely is not without in his chance in this contest either and should be allowed to dictate things from the front here. The eight year old ran out a comfortable six length winner here thirty four days ago and the second has advertised the form since, by notching up a win. If getting a soft lead he may prove hard to peg back but will need to jump with more fluency.
Of the remainder Cookstown was probably only going to second best when falling behind a smart performer on his last start, while Gores Island and Softsong can not be confidently dismissed either.
Jumps Road (WIN)
For my final selection we stay at Wincanton for another handicap chase run over two miles four furlongs and 110yds.
The one that appeals most here is the Paul Nicholls trained Atlantic Roller who has his third chase start and needs a significant enough rise, if a handicap at Cheltenham is on the cards. The 8yo was having his first run since last March when third over course and distance twenty six days ago. With that run under his belt you would be hopeful of seeing an improved effort here and hopefully he can get his head in front.
Another runner who could do with a significant rise if Cheltenham is on the cards is the Philip Hobbs trained Bincombe. Unlike the Nicholls inmate, he is much more exposed as this will be his eleventh chase start. Even though he has a win on heavy ground, three of his wins have come on good and he just may have preference for a sounder surface. Saying all that he looks like he may have some say in the finish here.
It’s hard to rule out anything in this contest with confidence but Simply Wings and bottom weight Saint Ralph appeal most.
Atlantic Roller (WIN)