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Yet again Cooper's Cross was a NR for the thread, so it's safe to say that they are really avoiding testing ground, which is probably good as he would've struggled on today's ground if they think soft is unsuitable. Today's racing doesn't look the best for a Saturday, but I've pulled together four selections. Good luck on your betting, and good luck if you're following.
This is the Veterans' Handicap Chase final, with the winner getting £51,440, so as you'd expect, this is quite a competitive race, but I think that THE KINGS WRIT is the one to be on.
Obviously, at the age of 11 he isn't at his peak, but he is still capable of a big run, especially off his current rating of 133, which is effectively 126 when you consider the 7lb claimer's claim into consideration. With the 7lb claim, it means he will be running off a weight of 10st 3lbs, and based on form of even last year, this makes him very dangerous to underestimate. Soft ground seems to bring the best out of this horse, and he produced a good performance off a mark of 135 last year when finishing 2nd at Wincanton, which produced an RPR of 143. His form tailed off slightly from that point onward, other than a decent run on his last run of the season in March. He made his seasonal return at the start of December over a trip which is definitely far too short for him these days (2m 3f), which would have blown away the cobwebs. He has generally needed the first run of the season, so I would expect a much better run this time, and that run at Exeter wouldn't concern me at all.
This race has probably been the plan for a while due to the prize money on offer.
Now that Ned Fox is back on DESQUE DE L'ISLE and the ground will be testing, I think he is worth taking a chance on.
I wouldn't say he's well handicapped, but I think he's on a mark which can be exploited when getting his ideal conditions. A mark of 119 probably is too high for him, but when Ned Fox takes off a very handy 10lbs, I think he then has to be taken very seriously in a race like this. He ran a cracking race last time out at Ludlow, without the 10lb claimer, and he finished 3rd, in a Class 2. This is a drop in class, and he will be running off bottom weight, which will be a big help in the stamina sapping ground, with further rain forecast to come. I think the horses at the head of the market need to be taken very seriously, but they carry very big weights, and that is not ideal.
Even though I mentioned in the previous race that carrying big weights isn't ideal in soft ground, I don't really think this is a strong race, so I'd expect STOLEN RIVER to prove his class in this and be too good for them.
I tipped him up when he finished 2nd at Cheltenham, and I thought he was an unlucky loser than day when he couldn't quite peg back Editeur Du Gite, and I've been wanting to back him again. He was then tried in a Grade 1, where he was simply outclassed, but so was the entire field as the winner, Edwardstone absolutely destroyed them. Connections have decided that he is not an out and out 2m, so they've put him up to 2m 4f, which they believe will suit, and will potentially stay further in the future. The ground should be fine for him, as he is a previous winner over hurdles on heavy ground. This isn't a strong race like I mentioned at the start, with the majority of the them coming into this race out of form. If Notre Pari wins, that would be the biggest kick in the nuts, as he was a previous tip for the thread, and ran an absolute stinker.
I was interested with how SHAKA THE KING ran last time out, as I thought he was going to run a big race, and to some extent he did, but appeared to get tired late on. I tipped the winner in that race, and that horse, Without Conviction, runs again earlier on in the Newcastle card, so it'll be interesting to see how he runs. However, I think now he's blown away the cobwebs he will be ready to rock n roll in this race. The form looks rock-solid for the grade, and this doesn't look like a strong race other than a handful who will pose a threat. The ground which won't be extremely testing will be a help as his best form to date has come on good-to-soft/good ground from his PTP race and his last hurdle start for Neil Alexander. I think he does handle the deeper ground, but wouldn't want it too soft, so he will be fine.