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Day 2 of the York Dante Meeting, and Rizzel has one selection from the Northern track, along with three from Perth & one from Fontwell.
On the bare form of hurdle runs, you'd have to say this is between Boltissime and Bright Eyed Eagle, but I'm opting for the hurdling newcomer, LOCK DOWN LUKE.
I backed this lad on debut when he ran in the bumper at Perth, winning at huge odds of 22/1. At the time I didn't take much notice of it, and probably thought that the form wouldn't add up to much, but the race after, he finished 2nd and that form is very strong. Peking Rose won that race, and that horse has since finished 2nd in the Aintree Grade 2 bumper race which took place on Grand National weekend. Other horses have franked the form from that Carlisle bumper, with the 3rd since winning two hurdle races and is now rated 128.
It's always a gamble to back a horse on hurdling debut, as you don't know how they've schooled over the obstacles etc, but the fact he was talented in bumper races, I'd presume he's a horse who takes things in his stride and will become a good hurdler.
Currently the odds are around 13/2, and to me he is a definite Each Way bet. This isn't a strong maiden, he has course form, and has good bumper form, he could be overlooked in the market.
Advised: Each Way
CITY DERBY looks the one to be on in the second race at Perth.
His recent fourth at this track is arguably the best form on offer, and you'd expect him to come on for that run, especially with it being his first run over hurdles. The form of that race is still an unknown, with it being only a few weeks ago, none of the horses have raced since, but back in 5th was No Risk Des Flos who is rated 129 over hurdles, so that's a good benchmark of what level he ran to (was 12lbs lighter than NRDF).
Khanmurjan looks to be the main danger, but he's been off the track for 307 days, so might need the run. As for the rest, Willy Nilly ran better lto, but will probably need to improve again. Bella Bluesky makes her hurdling debut, she was an okay bumper horse, but nothing to shout about.
Fergal O'Brien does well at this track, operating at a 25% strike rate from 63 runners in the last 5 years, and he does seem to have a soft spot for this track.
ISTIMRAAR is running himself into form and looks a lively outsider at the lower end of the weights.
On his last chase run, he finished 2nd to the extremely well handicapped horse, Dilligent, and he was dropped 3lbs for that run. Off a mark of 84, he is hovering at a mark where he is capable of winning off. He was placed off 92 2x last August, and won on this track off 81.
The interesting thing is that Sam Coltherd decides to take the ride on Istimraar, than Casimir Du Clos who is trained by his father, Stuart Coltherd. Sam has rode Casimir Du Clos for 90% of his races, so for him to choose Istimraar, rather than the horse which his dad trains seems a tip in itself.
Advised: Each Way
Nicky Henderson doesn't send too many horses to Fontwell, but when he does, they should be taken very seriously, and this is no different with BARON NELSON.
I think he is the one to beat, and though that sounds silly and quite obvious because he is the favourite, racing isn't as easy as picking a favourite, otherwise we'd all be millionaires, it's about picking the right ones. Anyway… he finished runner-up to a progressive horse of Gary Moore, called Sopran Thor, who has form tied in with good horses like Sexy Lot and Cascova. On that day Baron Nelson led, but was headed and couldn't manage to bridge the gap, so the slight drop back in trip could suit, especially if he decides to front run again.
This doesn't look a strong race. Chance A Tune had some decent bits of form, but he's not raced since and will need to prove he is ready from 476 days off the track. Paul Nicholls has a runner in the race, but he doesn't look the most talented.
WHAT'S THE STORY also seems to pop up at decent odds at York, and I'm hoping he can run a nice race again.
Off top weight 106 this will be a big task, but he's the class horse in the race and deserves to carry the most weight. He clearly retains his potential at 7yo, as he finished second to Top Rank at Doncaster in a Class 1 Listed race, and Top Rank looked a Group 2/1 horse. The form of that race has worked out okay, with a couple of horses in behind running well since.
I think he's best on a sound surface, and though the ground was described as Good-to-soft yesterday, the times suggested it was more like good. I'm hoping the rain doesn't come, but if it does then it won't be the end of the world as he does race on all ground.
He could definitely run a big race at decent odds. Write him off at your peril!
Advised: Each Way