Steve Hughes has selections in two of the better jumps races on Thursday.
Three jumps fixtures today, but unfortunately there is not a single race with a field bigger than ten runners in the nineteen races. That said there is some good quality about, none more so that at Kelso where the Morebattle Hurdle is the highlight.
Kelso 2.25: Chti Balko
Although his profile might be lower than that of his main market rivals, strictly on ratings Chti Balko is best off at the weights and he could well enjoy a tactical advantage out if front too.
An out and out front-runner, he made a bold bid at this track last month before his big weight told in the closing stages, ultimately finishing 5l behind Mirsaale. The ground had dried up a bit too which was not to the advantage of this mudlark.
Prior to that though he had made all to win on heavy at Haydock and had won a novice at the same track by 9l last season. I can only see Dame Rose as a possible spoiler early on, but that horse was ridden more patiently last time and I don’t see her taking on the selection on the assumption Chti Balko is ridden as positively as usual here. I don’t think Cyrus Darius wants the ground as slow as this, whilst this is Better Getalong’s first try away from novice company.
Leicester 2.45: Crosspark
This might be a bit of an ask for Crosspark to drop back 1m1f in trip after a fine effort on the Classic Chase at Warwick, but the 8yo won this contest last year on similar ground and looks capable of repeating the effort off just a 2lb higher mark.
Whilst it is true Crosspark needed every yard of the 2m4f distance to win last year, having got outpaced at halfway. However last year’s race was quite a hot affair that amongst others included Domesday Book who went on to win at the Cheltenham Festival the following month.
This year’s contest looks weaker by comparison featuring several older horses who seem to be losing their way. Crosspark though is in fine form judging by his run at Warwick when fourth to Milansbar. He did not quite seem to stay the marathon trip that day. He was fourth on much quicker going over today’s trip at Newbury back in November, so I am confident he has enough pace to cope here.
1pt win – Chti Balko 2.25 Kelso – 9/2 general
1pt win – Crosspark 2.45 Leicester – 11/4 general