Steve Hughes previews Thursday’s jump racing.
Unfortunately small fields prevail at today’s two British jumps fixtures, but there is plenty of good quality action all the same. I have a selection from each meeting at Kelso and Leicester.
Kelso 3.35: Top Billing
A horse on a tremendous run of form between late 2014 and late 2015, Top Billing has been in the grips of the handicapper since. He is finally beginning to relent now however and that allows Nicky Richards to enter the 8yo is a slightly lower grade.
He has run one good race in five attempts this term, but I think it is significant that it came in a similar race to this (2m6f on heavy ground) at Ayr and on that occasion he was allowed his own way in front. I think making the pace could be quite important to keep him motivated as he seemed to sulk when taken on in a big field at Warwick last time.
That Ayr run also saw headgear reapplied for the first time since he began a winning run of four races a couple of seasons ago and he switches back to blinkers today which might spark an increased interest too. He should certainly be able to cope with the testing going and having won beyond 3m in the past, jockey Ryan Day will presumably be happy to press on from quite a way out which should suit the horse.
Leicester 3.45: Un Prophete
Transformed by the switch to fences, Un Prophete is 2-2 over the bigger obstacles in Britain so far and should be well up to the hat-trick at Leicester this afternoon.
He showed plenty of promise over hurdles, but often found less than expected off the bridle, hence his record of five placed efforts but no wins in nine attempts. That included a fourth place only last month at this track and over this 2m trip.
However he produced a last to first performance at Ludlow in his first run over British fences, storming 16l clear late on despite being hampered three out. Not surprisingly Venetia Williams found a quick opportunity for him to follow up under a penalty at Southwell and he made no mistake, this time going in by an eased down 6l. He has gone up a total of 22lbs for those two wins, but that might not be enough especially as holes can be picked in the opposition. Champagne At Tara seems to want to do anything to avoid putting his head in front, Winner Massagot has been largely disappointing over the past twelve months, whilst Theatre Flame’s confidence could have been affected by a fall last time out.
1pt each-way – Top Billing – 3.35 Kelso – 10/1 Stan James, BetVictor, Skybet
1.5pts win – Un Prophete – 3.45 Leicester – 15/8 general