Steve Hughes previews the best jumps action on Sunday
Despite us being in the centre of a summer heatwave there is plenty of good jumping action to enjoy with one of the highlights of this time of year, the Summer Cup season at Uttoxeter. I have two bets for that contest, plus one from Cartmel’s feature.
Uttoxeter 4.20: Virgilio & Ballyalton
A typically competitive field for the Summer Cup, so this merits a couple of goes.
Virgilio is rated highly enough to be plying his trade in the winter months. However he cannot operate on soft ground so is essentially restricted to the big events during the summer. He bounced back to life with a fourth career win at Aintree in May, winning with more to spare than the length winning margin suggested. As a result a 4lb rise is fair. Uttoxeter is a similar left-handed, quite sharp track and as Virgilio is a strong traveller and good jumper I think he will like this big field.
Ballyalton is without a win since landing the novice handicap at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016. He has had his injury problems over the years, but as a result is lightly raced for an 11yo. Trainer Ian Williams has had a clear run with him of late and he has run some excellent races of late. They include fourth places at Cheltenham in the Bet Victor Gold Cup and at the Festival. Both of those races were on unsuitably slow ground, but today’s conditions are what suit him best and he warmed up for this with a reasonable run over hurdles last time. He seems feasibly rated off 138 currently.
Cartmel 4.30: Hammersly Lake
A horse at his best on flat tracks, Hammersly Lake should be at home on this tight circuit after a fine effort at Uttoxeter last time.
A real fast ground specialist there are not many races for a horse this highly rated who can’t act on winter going. Intrepid trainer Charlie Longsdon even sent him to America last autumn. However this is one race that fits the bill and a return to this 2m4f trip plus fast ground saw him run as well as ever when chasing home Drumcliff in a more competitive race last time.
All his chase victories have been gained on tight tracks, but he does stay this trip well and that will serve him well on this longest run-in in the country where stamina will be required – that could count against Sizing Platinum, whilst also putting pressure on confirmed front-runners such as Princeton Royale and Alderbrook Lad.
1pt win – Virgilio – 4.20 Uttoxeter – 9/1 Bet365
0.75pts each-way – Ballyalton – 4.20 Uttoxeter – 10/1 Bet365, BetVictor, William Hill
1pt win – Hammersly Lake – 4.30 Cartmel – 4/1 Bet365, William Hill