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Nick Williams' juvenile hurdler was extremely disappointing yesterday. She is a very big 3yo filly, and dwarved the geldings, but she was apparently very keen in the pre-parade ring, and looked very awkward on the track. I think she could be a decent hurdler, but needs to mentally mature if she is to win a race.
You might not be getting great odds on SEBASTOPOL to win this due to there being three runners, but anything around EVS I think is seen to be value. His recent record and string of 2's next to his form is slightly off putting that he somehow manages to always get beat by one, but based on his most recent run at Cheltenham, that was a taking run to finish runner-up to a very good horse in Third Time Lucki, and if the other two in this race were in that, I am fairly confident that none of them would have gotten as close as they did to that winner.
Skelton has a gauge of how good Sebastopol is as he trained the winner at Cheltenham, and I'm sure he can compare the form with his horse in this race, Rockstar Ronnie. However, as this is a Novices' Chase, and his horse has already won one, it means he is carrying a penalty, so he is giving away 6lbs to the other two horses, but is 8lbs inferior in the handicap (with the selection), so if this was to be a handicap race he would be receiving 8lbs, not giving away 6lbs, so is effectively 14lbs wrong as the weights. Obviously, he could be seen to be well handicapped, but surely he has to be that in order to be giving weight away. He won at this track when making all, and there is a strong possibility he'll get an easy leads of things again, which could be a problem, but I expect Aidan Coleman to actually put the pressure on the leader this race, rather than riding Sebastopol cold out the back, as in a small runner field like this, that would be dangerous.
Atholl Street made an okay return to racing, but I think a big field handicap would see him to better effect. He needs to learn to settle, and in a three runner race, he will probably struggle again. I think he could be backable in a big field handicap where Harry Cobden can bury him in between horses and switch him off, that's when you'll see the best out of him, in my opinion.
My Sister Sarah is the very short priced favourite, and based on ratings and previous pieces of form you can't really argue with it, but DRAGON BONES is still a lightly raced mare, and I believe is better than a rating of 132, and can make the favourite work very hard for this.
I tipped the selection up when she was entered in a Grade 3 handicap at the November Cheltenham meeting, but she was withdrawn due to ‘Self Certificate'. I truly believed she win that race, and at the time I believe she was well-handicapped, so there's no reason to believe she can't win this race, despite the fact that Willie Mullins is sending over one of his runners. I feel like the form of Dragon Bones' last start is strong and the winner is a good quality horse. That was the mares first start this season, so she will have come on for that run, and I think she would've been primed for the run at Cheltenham where she was a NR, so she should be 100% for this.
My Sister Sarah is versatile in the way she has won over multiple kind of trips. However, I'm not sure that this is her best kind of trip, as I think she could be better over slightly shorter. As for the rest of the field, I think they are decent horses, other than Whispering Gypsy who takes advantage of the small field and will complete the round of jumping for a bit of prize money. Even though they are good horses, I don't think they are better than the fav or Dragon Bones'.
With a lot of pace expected to be on in this race, it would probably be suicidal siding with a horse that would be up there, and maybe siding with a more patiently ridden horse could be the answer. With that being said, I am going to be having a small play on MONTY'S AWARD, who will be ridden out the back and hopefully will pick up the pieces late in the race when the front lot have all taken each other on.
Mercian Prince, Vision Des Flos and Gortroe Joe are all known for being front runners, and they have all been ridden that way in their recent races, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see at least two go at each other. Of the three, I can probably see Brendan Powell not getting involved with the pace battle, but the other two, it's hard to see who will back down, so a good pace is likely to be set. Mercian Prince carries 12st 2lbs, so will find this a very tough task in my opinion. He loves this track and is a good jumper, especially around here, but that weight will be a problem. Vision Des Flos isn't the same horse he somewhat used to be, but has been in better form this year, but his current mark and weight make him look vulnerable. Gortroe Joe is another who probably looks in the grips of the handicapper. I tipped him up for his last race at Market Rasen, and he came there with every chance, but looked well weighted, this is an easier task, but if he goes from the front, he will set it up for a closer. As for the others, The Unit has always looked talented, but hasn't really delivered, and his jumping hasn't been great as a chaser. Broken Quest isn't in great form and will definitely prefer a slower surface.
The selection had a run out 17 days ago, and that would have hopefully brushed away the cobwebs from his 140 day break. He is now running off a mark of 114, which is 3lbs lighter than his win in April. The good ground should be perfect for him, and even though this is arguably the toughest race he's seen in a year or so, he gets a low weight and the his run style should suit how the race pans out. The form of the stable is a concern, but with that comes a bigger price on offer, which I'm willing to take.
19:00 Wolverhampton - Race: 7
19:30 Wolverhampton - Race: 8
11:40 Lingfield - Race: 1