Steve Hughes concentrates on Fontwell’s fixture on Monday
With Hereford threatened by the frost and nothing too exciting at Wolverhampton I am going to stick with Fontwell for today’s bets.
Fontwell 2.45: De Rasher Counter
This season has seen a welcome upturn in fortunes for trainer Emma Lavelle, probably down to a change in venue for the yard. De Rasher Counter has run races full of promise in novice company and there should be more to come now he turns to handicaps for the first time.
The gelding won twice in Ireland on very soft ground last winter, in a 3m point and then a 2m bumper, so ground conditions at Fontwell today should not be an issue. It is perhaps surprising therefore that he has run twice on fairly quick ground so far in Britain – though that might just have served to preserve a reasonable handicap mark.
In addition his first two runs this year over hurdles were on right-handed tracks and he showed a distinct tendency to hang to his left on each occasion, although his third to Present Man at Kempton was a very solid effort. He was much more tractable at Doncaster last time going left, but was no match for a useful mare in Countister on the good going and over 2m. This longer trip and much softer going should bring about significant improvement.
Fontwell 3.15: Cloudy Beach
Although in the veteran stage now, Cloudy Beach has very few miles on the clock for an 11yo and having returned from injury, looks to be reaching his peak in time for this contest.
A positive is his course record – he has won both starts at Fontwell, in a weak maiden hurdle on good going and more significantly on heavy ground in a handicap chase two seasons ago. He then went on to win again on bottomless ground at Chepstow over this 2m3f trip.
However he then suffered an injury which meant we did not see him on the track again until October of this year. Understandably it has taken a couple of runs to get him fit again, but he looked back on track again when a narrow second at Lingfield last month, beaten just a length by the resurgent Grand Vision. This does not look the strongest of contests and Cloudy Beach’s proven ability to handle heavy ground gets him the vote.
1pt win – De Rasher Counter – 2.45 Fontwell – 15/8 general
1pt win – Cloudy Beach – 3.15 Fontwell – 2/1 Bet365, BetVictor