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We'll start off with Monday's winner. Imperial Saint was relatively weak in the market but proved that the market doesn't mean everything as he won with plenty in hand after cruising past the long-time leader. He looks like a nice horse and he is in fact part of the Richard Johnson syndicate and gave them their first winner, so congratulations to them. It wouldn't surprise me if Richard Johnson follows in the successful syndicate footsteps of Noel Fehily.
Mullinaree on the other hand was all over the place in the market and in his race. He was weak, then came back in a bit before the off. He left me with the impression he has the ability to win races over fences, but his constant desire of wanting to go quicker than the jockey will allow him is going to be his biggest problem. He made a mess at two of the fences, but other than that I thought he jumped nicely, going low and quick over the fences. Once they find the key to get him to settle, he'll be ahead of the handicapper.
Sedgefield 2:20 – For Three 5/2 (2pt)
I had this race between two horses, but ultimately I think For Three will come out superior. The other horse who I think will finish in behind is El Jefe, with maybe Whitehaven back in third.
This horse was well-supported on his first start for the Sam England stable over today's C&D and went through the race like the winner but was just seen off by Horn Cape from the Ben Haslam stable. I can't exactly use that this horse needed the run as he was only coming off the back of a 75-day absence, so chances are that he was in peak physical condition, but if he wasn't and has come on for that run then I think he should be very tough to beat today.
Lewis Stones held him up off the pace for the first circuit but then made a fairly quick move to bring him through the field, which saw him leading before the final turn. He was cruising through the race, and was only touched off in the final furlong, eventually losing by 0.5L with El Jefe back in third, a further 4.5L behind. El Jefe has since won a race in decent style, so the form seems strong enough to compare it against the others in this race. El Jefe and For Three were racing off the same racing weight last time out, today For Three will be carrying 1lb more with the jockey's claims taken into consideration, and based on when they met, that shouldn't be enough to see a change in the placings.
For Three has won four times over hurdles for other trainers, those wins have been off 104, 108 and 112 (x2), so he is a well-handicapped horse and the return to form, especially with the money down was a very encouraging run.
I mentioned the Donald McCain horse at the start, Whitehaven. That horse was a fairly useful handicapper for Hughie Morrison, but he hasn't exactly made great strides in his novice/maiden races to get his handicap mark. He should be better than his opening mark of 99 when you realise he is rated around the 80s on the flat, but this is his first start this season and he has never won when fresh in the past, so he is probably best watched unless significant money comes in.
Southwell 12:40 – Generous Day 11/2 (1pt, Bet365)
Going for an ageing horse against younger ones is normally not the best tactic when trying to land a winner, but sometimes you've got to look at the quality of the race and the horse you like. In my opinion, Generous Day deserves to be backed on the basis he won this race last year, and the race last year looks a lot better than today's.
This horse has previously won on his second start after a break, twice, so with this being his second start of the season and they're attempting to win the race they won last year, I think he has a great chance off just 2lbs higher this time around. He made a satisfactory comeback run at Huntingdon 29 days ago, recording an RPR of 109 which was much better than last year's opening run which led to him winning this. Last year he beat a horse called Heltenham, who I think I tipped to win this race last year, that horse was rated 107 at the time and then went on to win three on the bounce, then flopped at Cheltenham in April, but bounced back to win over hurdles just a couple of weeks ago. His rating over fences is now 134, which is 27lbs higher than when Generous Day smoked him by 4L. Obviously, Heltenham wasn't the finished article when they met, but he had already won a race so was clearly in a rich vein of form and ridiculously well handicapped, and this year I can't seem to find a horse who is remotely close to that level.
He made all in this race last year and his wins normally come when he is leads, but with another likely pacemaker in this race in the form of Tom Creen it will make things a bit more difficult, I just hope James Davies doesn't get into a pace burnup. If he can grab the lead, go for it, but if they are wrestling for it for a few fences I'd rather him just surrender it.
Tom Creen is an interesting runner with a record of 4/8 over fences, but his wins have come at Sedgefield so that raises questions and he just scraped home last time out.
I'm not sure which way my selection will go in the market, he is probably a bit shorter than I thought he'd be, but maybe punters are latching onto the same angle that I've stated. I wouldn't be surprised if he drifted out slightly, before being backed in again before the off.
Sedgefield - 2:20 pm
5/2 @ Bet365
Southwell - 12:40 pm