Steve Hughes has two for Tuesday with selections from open looking handicaps on the flat at Ripon and over jumps at Southwell.
Whilst four meetings in Britain can hardly be termed quiet, it is a relatively low key set of cards as we build up to the Derby weekend at Epsom. I have selected an in-form older horse at Ripon due a deserved win and a quirky performer over hurdles who might just have turned over a new leaf with his new stable.
Ripon 3.55: Ginger Jack
In a race full of veteran performers, Ginger Jack is relatively speaking one of the younger horses in this at the age of seven, but on recent evidence appears as good as ever and he can gain the win his recent form suggests he deserves at one of his favourite venues.
Second over this course and distance on his seasonal return in April, he put in a bold show in last week’s Zetland Gold Cup at Redcar when fourth, possibly his best ever effort over 10f. The suspicion is however that he still does not quite get home over that distance, but today’s mile is certainly no issue.
Five of his seven career wins have been gained at a mile (although he did win over as far as 9f here last season), and he can be ridden with as much positivity as necessary here at a venue that does favour prominent racers. Although in his younger days he seemed to prefer top of the ground conditions, that is certainly not the case now as he won on soft going at Redcar in 2012, whilst both his runs this term have come with some cut. With a bit more rain expected to fall before race time, we can expect the ground to have some give in it, so that will no longer be a negative for the selection.
Southwell 8.15: Surf and Turf
There is likely to be a fairly warm order here in the shape of Mr Shantu who put behind him a series of wayward efforts over hurdles with a cosy win at Market Rasen last time out. Of course he might turn out to be still well in, even off a 13lb higher mark, but preference at bigger odds is for a former stablemate of the favourite in Surf and Turf.
Now in the care of rookie trainer Kevin Frost, Surf and Turf had already won four times with Jonjo O’Neill, showing a marked preference for flat tracks with wins at Wincanton, Newton Abbot and Worcester (twice). This trip of 2m4f also looks to be perfect for him, but it has to be said he was never the model of consistency, and he finished his campaign last autumn with two especially weak efforts albeit on ground slower than ideal.
However reappearing from a five month absence over this course and distance in April, Surf and Turf appeared a reformed character, travelling sweetly throughout without the need for his usual cheekpieces, he was sent to the front jumping the last, being driven out to defeat Crookstown by 1l. His chances will be enhanced if the rain stays away, but an 8lb rise still only puts him 3lbs higher than his last winning mark for O’Neill. It could be that the change to a smaller stable, where more attention can be placed on his training has brought its rewards.
1pt win – Ginger Jack – 3.55 Ripon (15/3 BetVictor, William Hill)
1pt each-way – Surf and Turf – 8.15 Southwell (8/1 general)