There are several shorties I’m keen to swerve on Saturday, starting with Mr Whipped in the Leamington Novices’ Hurdle at Warwick (15:00).
Nicky Henderson’s five-year-old appeared to show much improved form when winning at Newbury last time, but it’s not easy to be dogmatic about the exact merit of that performance, and it was run in no more than a respectable time.
He’s certainly a promising sort, and his trainer is in typically fine form, but this is a much warmer contest than those he’s contested, and as well as Count Meribel, who boats the most solid form, there are a number of unexposed runners who have similar potential to the favourite, and he looks poor value at short of 3.0.
The case against Waiting Patiently is a similar one – he’s favourite for the listed chase at Kempton at 14:05 after an unbeaten start over fences, and he’s clearly an exciting prospect, but he’s not favoured by the weights in this classy affair. If he met God’s Own in a handicap he would be receiving 7lb, but must concede that top-class rival 4lb here.
He’s also badly off with Smad Place, and while neither of those rivals are getting better at this stage of their careers, they are proven at the highest level, and set the bar very high for Waiting Patiently. Malcolm Jefferson’s star has been off ten weeks since winning a graduation chase at Carlisle, and any sign of ring rustiness will leave him very vulnerable.