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Both horses at Thurles were no good, the second selection put in a decent effort and probably will be suited over slightly shorter and I'm sure he'll turn into a decent horse based on that performance as the front three are all clearly very good horses for the future.
Wetherby 1:15 – Grey Dawning 11/8 (1pt)
Surprise, surprise, there's another jumps meeting inspection, so we'll find out whether if the meeting is going to ahead at 7am in the morning. If it goes ahead I hope Grey Dawning can make a winning chase debut.
Dan Skelton has always had a lot of good things to say about this horse and I can see why as he is a proper trier. He gives his all and when Harry has asked him for maximum effort the horse has always given that, which is a great trait to have in a horse. This is his chase debut and will be his first time at 3m, properly as he didn't quite make it round last time at Aintree. He is a horse who loves testing ground as he was impressive in his Grade 2 win at Warwick last year over 2m 5f. I think he will stay the trip and I think he will jump a fence as he has plenty of scope about him, it was a shame that he didn't complete in the Grade 1 which was won by Apply Away as then you'd get concrete confirmation of whether he'd stay the trip, but despite that I think he will.
You might ask why not go for Apple Away in this race. I tipped up that mare in the Grade 1 at Aintree when she won for me at 16/1. I think she's a lovely horse and a smart prospect for the future, but Lucinda's novice chasers this year have been making some costly mistakes and are either unseating or falling, and that doesn't bode well for this horse, especially when you consider she's quite keen and is a front runner. Paddy Wadge is on board which is a surprise considering Stephen Mulqueen rode her to her Grade 1 win and Derek Fox is the main man for this stable.
Ballydesmond shouldn't be overlooked either in this contest as he was impressive on his rules debut in Ireland, but that was in a Hunter's Chase, so the form probably won't amount to much and he was only a winner once in seven tries in PTPs, so he's hardly prolific. He was bought for 90k after that win, so clearly they believe he's a smart recruit.
Wetherby 1:50 – Rath Gaul Hill 10/1 (0.5pt EW Bet365 3pl)
Originally, I liked Nayati in this but it seems a little odd how Brian Hughes has opted to ride Rock Hurley instead so I'd imagine he believes the latter has a better chance, and that is enough to put me off the top weight. The others in the race don't really stand out to me and I thought Rath Gaul Hill, if he's on song, then he could be better than his handicap mark of 111 on handicap debut.
The form of the Sam Drinkwater yard is concerning, and I'm a big believer of yard form being a big thing, but I just believe this race is full of horses who are on tough marks and if this horse can repeat his debut performance from Ffos Las back in November 2022 he has a real shout in this race, especially off bottom weight.
He is a horse who clearly likes soft ground and the way he went through that race at Ffos Las was in the manner of a decent horse. He brushed aside the odds-on Skelton horse in that race and won in a canter. I think he's a horse who has had many complications as he didn't run to that level on his next two starts, he's had a wind-op in between the runs and now they've gone for Tongue Tie. In my eyes, if he's fit and they have cleared his problems he shouldn't be the outsider of this field.
Wetherby 3:00 – Frero Banbou 11/2 (1pt Bet365)
If Shan Blue is on form, then he could wipe this field in a canter, even off top weight, but he's another horse who has clearly had his problems so I think it's best to leave him alone for this race. Hibee might know a bit more with his connections to the Skelton yard, and when he puts him up as a tip I'll be crying into my morning porridge.
As for the rest of the field I don't think this is a special race at all. I cannot for the life of me understand why Famous Bridge is the favourite as he has done all of his winning over further and though he is still ‘unexposed', is this trip what he wants on seasonal reappearance? I doubt it. I think a lot of people who are into their jumps racing would have thought Frero Banbou would have been suited by the step up to 2m 4f at the Cheltenham Festival, that was his first try at the trip but it didn't exactly go to how I and others might've thought, but I think he deserves another shot.
On his day he is a very good horse, and the handicapper over the last season has given him a chance of bouncing back as he is now 1lb below his last winning mark, which came in January 2022 as he was lingering around the low 140s for a while. He is a horse who relishes a end-to-end gallop over 2m and he stays on strongly in most of his races, so it was strange it took connections so long to try him over further. He seems to handle any ground and Venetia can ready one off a layoff as I saw when Eceparti battered the field in a race I had a selection earlier this week.
Newmarket 1:25 – Ching Shih 16/1 (0.5pt Win)
I'm going have a 0.5pt win play on the outsider of the field, Ching Shih.
My selection is the bottom rating in this race and has is all to do on that basis but I think she has her ideal conditions today with that being bottomless ground at 12f. She stays well at this trip on this type of ground, and the one thing I'm hoping is that Callum Shepherd gives her every chance of winning this by not giving her mission impossible from the rear of the field as we all know how much of a front runners paradise Newmarket can be.
Her form isn't that bad when you look into it:
2nd to Arrest who won with plenty in hand that day, but did have to work for it because Ching Shih was constantly running on. He went on to finish 2nd in the St Leger.
She was 4th in a Group 2 won by Sumo Sam, the runner-up won a Listed race at Bath, very easily. The fifth (Boogie Woogie) has won a Class 1 race and the Haggas horse who was in last was 1.5L behind the winner in a Group 2 in France the time before.
Wetherby - 1:15 pm
11/8 @ Bet365
Wetherby - 1:50 pm
10/1 @ Bet365
Wetherby - 3:00 pm
11/2 @ Bet365
Newmarket - 1:25 pm