We have a busy card on Saturday featuring some potentially lucrative opportunities on the all-weather at Lingfield, which by the way may yet go under the radar somewhat, along with some fine races over the jumps including the Grade 1 Tolworth Hurdle at Sandown Park
12.10 Lingfield (Handicap) – STAR OF SOUTHWOLD
This is a decent 0-95 handicap over a mile-and-a-quarter, one in which Mick Appleby’s Star Of Southwold only just gets in and he is taken to outclass his rivals and get us off to a great start.
A fantastic all-weather trainer, Appleby has overseen a steady improvement for this horse and what is striking is that, while this seems to be his ideal trip, his standout run was arguably over a mile at Chelmsford and so it appears he needs things to be just a little quicker than when third last time at Wolverhampton, making Lingfield perfect for him in my view.
The five-year-old gelding has a few in behind for competition, namely Universal Gleam, Creationist and Humbert who can all fight it out for nothing more than place money all being well.
2.25 Sandown (Tolworth Hurdle – Grade 1) – SON OF CAMAS
The biggest race of the day by some way in terms of quality, the Tolworth is a prize worth winning in its own right of course but it can also provide us with more huge Cheltenham Festival clues.
Of the two standout candidates in my opinion, the more exposed is the overnight favourite Fiddlerontheroof of Colin Tizzard’s who climbed to a rating of 140 when winning over the course and distance recently on heavy ground.
He began his campaign with a fine second to Thyme Hill at Cheltenham and has been seen in public six times, so while he’s very good we kind of know where we stand with him and it could be that there’s one to improve past him in the shape of Son Of Camas.
Ordinarily I’d go with the battled hardened Grade 2 runner-up, but in Nicky Henderson’s five-year-old we have a horse that has already reached a similar level without having to be fully tested and coming from this yard we can be sure Son Of Camas wouldn’t have been entered were he not good enough to win.
2.50 Lingfield (Handicap) – LADY BERGAMOT
We’re back on the sand and this time with a fresh animal who, with pace being as important as stamina at Lingfield, can skip clear at some point in the closing stages to hopefully be good enough to score.
While David Simcock’s former Shadwell horse Kitaabaat is obviously good enough at a nice price and Getchagetchagetcha should be well supported in the market, the ability possessed at these weights by Lady Bergamot should see her home as long as she’s fully ready to go having been off for 65 days.
James Fanshawe’s grey mare is six now but she’s only had 19 outings, just seven on the all-weather, and overall appears to be getting better. Her close-up fifth in a Listed race around here in late October reads well considering that was over a longer trip which, despite her trainer having persevered with it, doesn’t seem ideal and so back over this mile-and-a-half trip we could witness a new career best and that would be good enough.
3.10 Newcastle (Handicap Hurdle) – ROBEAM
This is a low value, Class 4 handicap hurdle but it’s interesting purely because of the presence of our selection Robeam.
Brian Ellison is an underrated trainer who, as a Geordie and big supporter of the operation at Newcastle, loves to land a gamble at Gosforth Park and so whatever he runs around there should at least be taken note of.
Sam’s Adventure is his other major chance on the card among four entries (two in this race), but this is the only one with Brian Hughes on board and he’s a young and improving hurdler who has already landed the odds locally at Sedgefield. He can go well here, perhaps landing another gamble for the Brian Ellison Racing Club.
If Robeam is to be the one then it’s almost certain he’ll be well backed at this track, making his 13/2 quote overnight looking huge, so the advice would be to get on early if you want to back him. Celtic Flames probably ranks as best of the rest for Lucinda Russell.
3.35 Sandown (Handicap Hurdle) – SMARTY WILD
This is a competitive enough two-mile handicap hurdle, one in which age could play a big part along with the likely soft underfoot conditions.
The probable favourite is Nicky Henderson’s Gunnery and it’s easy to see why. He’s from a top yard, carries no weight and is an easy last-time-out winner but it is also worth mentioning that for his current trainer, as well as for Peter Chapple-Hyam on the flat, he looked so much better on good ground and so he could get rather stuck in the mud this time.
Off for almost two years, a live outsider is Colin Tizzard’s Ainchea but it goes without saying that with such a type we’d be taking a chance, while the solid one is Totterdown for Fergal O’Brien who at nine is not past it, but won’t have as much improvement left as some others and has been raised 12lbs for a win here last time.
The biggest likely improver is Smarty Wild, a six-year-old from Philip Hobbs’ yard. Only seven races into his hurdling career and getting better all the time, this gelding was a good winner in similar conditions to today two runs ago at Exeter before failing to justify favouritism over this track and trip last time.
That was on heavy ground of course which probably worked against him while he’s now only 3lbs higher than when winning at Exeter, a rate that more than likely doesn’t justify his rate of improvement overall and so at the weights he can prove to be the best of the bunch.