Steve Hughes has two selections from an excellent jumps card at Doncaster
Provided it passes a morning inspection, Doncaster stages the day’s best fixture with plenty of runners lining up in the seven races. The going will be virtually good on Town Moor, meaning much quicker ground that we have been racing on virtually all winter. As such it might be worth delving slightly further back in the form book to detect which horses act on faster going.
Doncaster 3.00: Fingerontheswitch
Considering he has raced just the four times over hurdles Fingerontheswitch has come a long way in a short space of time and I strongly suspect he will prove to be much more effective on the sound surface he encounters today than the soft going he faced at Cheltenham last time.
Kept to a sound surface in his three Irish points as a 4yo, he was good enough to win on the third occasion. Sold after that to join Neil Mulholland, he made just a single appearance in a bumper in the spring, trotting up by 11l on good going at Towcester, pinpointing that stamina too would be his forte.
He had two runs on top of the ground in novice hurdles in the autumn, winning at Worcester in October, again on good going. He was then stepped significantly up in class for a handicap at the Open meeting at Cheltenham, finishing a fine fourth to Unowhatimeanharry. He was then sent to the same track on soft ground for a class 2 hurdle in December, but the going seemed too testing for him and he was soon beaten. He has clearly been kept back over mid-winter to wait for better ground and this looks an ideal race given good going, 3m trip and a real galloping track that will play to his strengths.
Doncaster 3.30: Benbens & Godsmejudge
The latest in the Veterans Chase series has produced an absolute humdinger of a line up with no weak links whatsoever. In the circumstances two against the field seems wisest.
Benbens acts on any going, but he does seem to find it easier jumping off slightly better ground and he struggled to get seriously involved in the Veterans final at Sandown last month, though he did plug on gamely into fifth. However this type of race is his right level as he proved when winning one of these races at Aintree in October, enjoying the good ground that day. Perhaps his career best effort though was when second in the Scottish National at Ayr last spring. Whislt he does stay well, he is not devoid of pace and I think he is just as effective at a flat 3m such as he will find today. He is only 3lbs higher today than for his comfortable Aintree win.
The one though that could prove a blot on the handicap is Godsmejudge. The 10yo is only now qualified for the Veterans series and has performed throughout his career at the highest level over fences. I tipped him up for the Grand National when trained by Alan King, from a mark of 146. Having cruised through the first two-thirds of the race he folded up badly late on – but it was subsequently proved he was suffering from a virus so that run can be ignored. He moved stables to join David Dennis this season, and showed little in his first two starts. However I am not sure those runs justified him being dropped 16lbs in the weights and he showed he was on a good mark when chasing home Ziga Boy over course and distance last time – the winner having since gone on to land the valuable Skybet Chase here. The assessor has not even put him up a pound for that and seeing that his career best performance came on similar good ground when landing the Scottish National a couple of seasons ago, everything is in place for a big run today.
1pt win – Fingerontheswitch – 3.0 Doncaster – 11/4 general
1pt win – Benbens – 3.30 Doncaster – 3/1 general
1pt win – Godsmejudge – 3.30 Doncaster – 8/1 general