Steve Hughes heads north for selections from two races on Tuesday
I have another split between jumping and flat selections on Tuesday. Catterick have some competitive handicaps for their final flat card of 2015 and I like the look of the staying race later on the card. Bangor stages a fabulous novice chase early in the afternoon, but for punting purposes the handicap hurdle looks of more interest. We got off to a great start to the new week with a double achieved through Storm Rock (sp 6/1) and Jack Steel (advised 9/4) for a double paying over 18/1 at advised prices.
Catterick 3.20: Virnon
It looks like soft ground is the key for the dual bumper winner Virnon and he can get off the mark on the level at Catterick this afternoon.
Two comfortable soft going wins at Newcastle and Carlisle persuaded connections to run him in some of the top bumper races of last season, including Cheltenham and Aintree and whilst he probably wasn’t up that grade, the drying ground was no help to him. He does not lack for pace however and whilst hurdling might be the long term aim it did make sense for connections to run him in proper flat races in the meantime.
He made little show in three maidens to qualify for a handicap mark, but all three came on decent ground and after being soundly beaten on handicap debut on fast ground at Newcastle, he was given a decent summer break. He returned at Redcar two weeks ago and attempted to make all the running there over 14f. He was not far off achieving that feat, only getting outpaced in the final furlong. He looked to be lacking for pace at the latter end and the step up to 2m looks well worth a try. Against opponents who are thoroughly exposed in the main, he makes plenty of appeal of his modest rating of 69.
Bangor 4.00: Nightline & Harry Hunt
Two out of form horses on the comeback trail are fancied against the field in this open handicap hurdle.
Nightline’s chances are more obvious on his first start for the in-form Charlie Longsdon. He looked quite an exciting prospect in his first three starts over hurdles last season. Fifth in a hot novice at Chepstow over an inadequate 2m, he built on that when a game winner over 2m4f at Southwell and achieved just as much when second to Kylemore Lough at Wetherby – the winner going on to ultimately run at the Cheltenham Festival. He was though very disappointing in two subsequent runs at Warwick and Stratford. Since transferred from the Henry Daly yard, Longsdon steps this scopey gelding up to 3m and applies a first time tongue strap. He looked far better than a 115 rated horse last winter, so if Longsdon can rekindle the flame he looks very well in here.
A small each-way wager on Harry Hunt might be worthwhile too. Still only eight, Graham Mcpherson’s gelding has decent form over hurdles, winning off 128 at Stratford back in 2012. He also briefly looked good over fences, winning a good novice at the same track until losing his way over the bigger obstacles. Having good form around Stratford, a sharp left-handed track, should hold him in good stead for today. A key reason for following him today is that he won first time out in the autumn of 2011, 2012 and 2013, so his six month absence from the track could actually be a positive for today.
1pt win – Virnon – 3.20 Catterick – 11/4 Bet365, Skybet, Ladbrokes
1pt win – Nightline – 4.00 Bangor – 5/1 Boylesports, Betvictor, Paddy Power
0.5 pts each-way – Harry Hunt – 4.00 Bangor – 20/1 Bet365