HORSE RACING / Steve Hughes looks ahead to the best of Saturday’s jumps racing.
Decent jumps racing countrywide with the weather having warmed up enough to allow everything to go ahead. I have selections from all three British jumps cards.
Newcastle 1.35: Corrin Wood
A switch to Nick Skelton has rekindled Corrin Wood’s form and he remains very well handicapped on his best form.
That said he obviously has his fair share of quirks as he seemed to down tools when not getting allowed an easy lead in the Tommy Whittle at Haydock last time. At one point he looked sure to be pulled up at halfway, but he rallied in the end to place a respectable fourth.
Dropped 3lbs for today, stable jockey Harry Skelton gets on board for the first time today and with only a field of seven, Corrin Wood may well get an easier time getting to the lead. His only likely pace rival is Un Noble, but that horse is effectively making his seasonal debut and is yet to convince over 3m, so may well be ridden with more patience than usual. Corrin Wood’s strength has always been his jumping and against several novices he could well make that experience pay.
Sandown 1.50: De Faoithesdream
Arguably unlucky at Cheltenham last time, falling three out when clear, De Faoithesdream can make amends when appearing at Sandown today.
This perennial front-runner used to be a fast ground specialist, but these days he seems to appreciate much softer going, and there will be plenty of cut after overnight rain. At Cheltenham he set off in front as normal, but through bold jumping he went 10l clear when slightly overjumping the downhill third last and knuckling over on landing.
It was of course slightly too far out to say for sure if he would have held on, but the handicapper has taken that view and left him on the same rating, so he could be very nicely in today.
Sandown 3.00: Gas Line Boy & Theatrical Star
This should be spectacular with plenty of old favourites lining up and I have two against the field.
Gas Line Boy looks rejuvenated by joining the red-hot stable of Ian Williams. He was mightily impressive when winning a qualifier at Kelso last time and although an 11lb rise is tough it is probably also fair. I also think this track will play to his strengths as it favours swift jumpers that can get into an early rhythm like him.
I would also give a chance to Theatrical Star at the bottom of the weights. Formerly very useful he lost his way over fences in the past year or so, but has plummeted in the handicap as a result and got a confidence booster when third in a competitive hurdle at Wincanton over Christmas. He has run well on both prior visits to Sandown and I suspect this race has been the target for some time.
Wincanton 3.15: Trans Express
A winner for us on his last outing at Exeter, I am more than happy to keep the faith in the Sue Gardner trained gelding.
Despite racing keenly around that stiff track, he saw out his race strongly, holding off the sustained challenge of Rocklander who has franked the form since when coming so close to win at Cheltenham last week.
Even if he races keenly again here, he does look sure to improve again for a 3f rise in distance and the sharper track should offset any stamina issues. A 5lb rise is quite generous and he can follow up off bottom weight.
1pt win – Corrin Wood – 1.35 Newcastle – 4/1 general
1pt win – De Faoithesdream – 1.50 Wincanton – 9/2 general
1pt win – Gas Line Boy – 3.00 Sandown – 9/1 general
0.5pts each-way – Theatrical Star – 3.00 Sandown – 8/1 general
1pt win – Trans Express – 3.15 Wincanton – 7/2 general