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Jumps racing has been abandonment after abandonment after abandonment and the season has only just started, so who knows how they're going to cope when winter starts and the frost starts getting into the ground.
It made me think why can't they use the frost covers to stop further rain from hitting the turf? there must be an obvious reason, and if you have any idea why they don't use that, then please let me know.
Wetherby 1:15 – The Paddy Pie 12/1 (0.5pt EW Skybet 5pl)
Who knows if I'm wasting my time looking through the Wetherby card, but in hope that it is on I think the well-handicapped The Paddy Pie can run a big race at a track he likes.
The Sue Smith yard isn't in the best of form and hasn't been since the turn of the summer season, with just one win from April. That form isn't inspiring but I thought The Paddy Pie made an encouraging return to action at Warwick considering the form of the yard and it was something to build on. He has never been one to win first time out and the way he was ridden, and the odds he went off at suggested he wasn't going to win. He is best seen to effect when running prominently or from the front so the fact he was ridden in last and came there with a decent chance turning for home was good to see.
This horse is now 7lb below his last winning mark which came over today's C&D in a higher-class race, he then followed that up with a runner-up finish behind an unexposed horse in No Risk Des Flos. His form took a nosedive after that and him running during the summer on ground which was too quick for him wouldn't have helped, but it probably was the plan to do that so his handicap mark would drop for races like today. He's far from prolific with just 4 wins from 33 chase starts but he runs well at this track, he has been placed on five occasions and has won once here.
Wetherby 1:50 – Kateira 9/4 (1pt)
This is going to be a real test of stamina over the 2m as the ground is going to be bottomless and there will be a strong pace to aim at with Stainsby Girl leading the line who normally sets a frantic pace, so going with a horse who stays further will be a benefit in my eyes and I'm siding with an old selection of mine, Kateira.
I was tempted to go with the Alexander horse, Stainsby Girl as if the pack let her get an easy lead and she powers off, it might be very tough to peg her back, but I'll be putting trust in Harry Skelton and the others to not let that happen. I put Kateira up at the Aintree National Festival when she ran in a Grade 1 over 2m 4f and she finished 2nd that day, finishing ahead of You Wear It Well. The latter had a month break from the Cheltenham win so she might not have been 100%, but I thought Kateira oozed class that day and the drop in trip isn't going to bother her given how powerful she went through that race at Aintree.
Whether or not she'll want ground this soft, I'm not sure, but I doubt Dan Skelton would run her on it if he wasn't confident and he's come out and said she's done plenty of work so I expect the best version of her turning up to Wetherby.
Ascot 12:55 – Idem 15/2 (0.5pt EW Whill)
I am a big fan of Lucinda Russell, she is a real force to be reckoned with this year and I don't think she'll be wasting her time sending horses down to Ascot if they didn't have a chance, so Idem gets the vote in this race.
It's a big trip down to Ascot from Lucinda's Scottish base and though that might be a tip in itself, this horse just appears to be on the up. He has to carry 12 stone, but effectively it's 11st 6lbs as Conner McCann takes off a very handy 8lbs. Lucinda has been very good over the years, especially recent years in spotting talented young riders and Conner is the latest one and based on his form up to now he is great value for the 8lbs. He is 5/14 in hurdle races, which is a 36% SR.
Patrick Wadge rode this horse the last two times (another superb young jockey associated to the Russell yard), so Conner gets on him for the first time today. The horse looks a real stayer and that will help his chances today at Ascot as the ground will be tiring but also the stiff nature of Ascot will make it into a stamina test. He stayed on powerfully at Kelso last time, but he's not short of pace either as he proved when finishing 2nd in a decent pot bumper at Kelso at the back end of last season. He will have the fitness edge over most of these and I think he is great value.
Ascot 1:30 – Passing Well 9/2 (1pt PaddyPower)
Going with chase experience in novice races like this will be a big help, but sometimes you've got to go with your instinct and I think Passing Well will make a chaser and hopefully, make a winning chase debut.
Jamie Snowden has clearly been very keen to get him to run over fences but hasn't found the right opportunty to do so. Jamie has withdrawn Passing Well on two occasions already this season due to the ground being too quick at Warwick and then Cheltenham, but he finally gets the rain for his horse today. The fact Jamie pitched this horse into races at Warwick and Cheltenham suggests his jumping is perfectly up to scratch as both of those tracks are very demanding for novice chasers. This horse was a decent novice, winning a couple of races he was expected to win, but it seems clear that soft ground is the key to him.
Jonathan Burke has opted to ride Passing Well over Twinjets who he would've been asked to ride given that he had previously ridden him and has been a jockey Milton Harris has opted for recently. I think Twinjets will make a nice chaser as he is a big horse, so it's another vote of confidence in picking Passing Well, especially as Burke has a 20% SR when riding for Snowden.
Wetherby - 1:15 pm
12/1 @ The Pools
Wetherby - 1:50 pm
9/4 @ Bet365
Ascot - 12:55 pm
15/2 @ William Hill
Ascot - 1:30 pm