Steve Hughes concentrates on the excellent jumps card at Wetherby for his two Friday selections
Despite some good end of season action at Newmarket, the ultra competitive card at Wetherby looks the one to focus on with some high class jump races on offer. Two handicaps – one over hurdles and one over fences are the ones I have taken a look at. Lamar gave us a decent winner at Lingfield yesterday (advised 8/1).
Wetherby 1.40: Beatabout The Bush
Selected over course and distance a couple of weeks ago when ultimately only seventh, I am happy to keep the faith with Beatabout the Bush who should be sharper for that recent outing.
Although he did have the benefit of a run (and win) on the All Weather at Wolverhampton last month, there is no substitute for experience over hurdles and he did run as if slgihtly in need of the run here sixteen days ago. Always close up, he was still travelling well turning for home before gradually fading.
A wide margin winner here back in January, the selection has no stamina issues ocne fully fit and he was thought highly enough of to race at the Cheltenham Festival last season. Whilst he was well beaten in the Fred Winter, he was on the upgrade having backed up his win here with another facile success at Sedgefield. This is his grade and from a 3lb lower mark I like his chances each-way.
Wetherby 2.15: Theatre Guide
Colin Tizzard has not run too many whilst the ground has been on the quick side this month, but those that have been in action have run well and that is an encouraging sign for the once very useful Theatre Guide who could take advantage of a declining handicap mark on his return to action this afternoon.
The 8yo has twice won first time out, including at Kempton last season in a graduation chase. However after a bit of a gap, he did not perform up to expectation in four races in the New Year and simply could not have been 100%. Instead if we look at his form from the 2013/14 season, we can see this gelding must have an excellent chance of his new mark of 140, by far the lowest rating he has ever been given.
Although his only other chase win was a weak novice at Newton Abbot, he was an excellent third to Triolo D’alene in the Hennessy at Newbury and a narrow second at Cheltenham the following month from a 7lb higher mark. He showed he had the pace for 2m4f at Kempton last season, but won’t mind if this race becomes more of a stamina test if the anticipated fast pace materialises. With Fago, Wakanda and Off The Ground amongst those that like to kick on, hold up tactics on the selection that jockey Paddy Brennan likes to employ could come in very useful.
1pt each-way – Beatabout the Bush – 1.40 Wetherby – 16/1 general
1pt win – Theatre Guide – 2.15 Wetherby – 4/1 general