Steve Hughes has two selections for the first of two days jumping at Chepstow
The British jumps season really steps up a gear with a two day fixture at Chepstow on going that is likely to be bordering on typical winter going by racetime. Plenty of quality horses on show and I have selections for the two big handicaps – one for veterans and one for the youngsters.
Chepstow 3.55: Joe Farrell
Last season was a disappointing one for 2018 Scottish National winner Joe Farrell, but he comes into this new campaign fit and well and I think he can start it on a winning note.
Last season was all geared around the Grand National, but he ended up having something of a rushed preparation after an early season setback. Whilst he ran a cracker to be second at Newbury in March, that race left its mark and he was well beaten at both Aintree and then Sandown.
Those races however were top level contests and I think he is in calmer waters in these veterans races. He has a decent record fresh having won first time out three times in his career and also won by 17l in the spring of 2018 after three months off before his career high when landing the Scottish National. 3M around a stiff track should suit and he might have too much tactical pace for ageing rivals. Trainer Rebecca Curtis regularly has her charges ready for the beginning of the season.
Chepstow 4.30: Praeceps
Already comfortable racing in big fields and with plenty of racing experience, Praeceps could be best equipped for this competitive handicap.
He had plenty of racing on the level when with Mark Prescott, winning three times at trips of up to 2m. He then showed plenty of aptitude for hurdling when enjoying a busy campaign during the second half of last winter. He won twice, but probably his best efforts came in defeat.
He was always handy before finishing sixth in the Fred Winter at the Cheltenham Festival, just getting outpaced up the hill. He was then probably given too much to do before keeping on strongly into sixth on fast ground at Ascot. His Plumpton win sent him into the summer on a high note. I think this stiff track on softening ground will play to his strengths and 128 is a reasonable mark to kick off the new campaign.
0.75pts each-way – Joe Farrell – 3.55 Chepstow – 10/1 BetVictor, Skybet
0.75pts each-way – Praeceps – 4.30 Chepstow – 8/1 general