Rory Delargy returns to take on three fancied names at Doncaster on Saturday.
13:50 William Hill High 5 Handicap Hurdle
I’m not a big fan of the use of cheekpieces, and there is nothing to indicate that the headgear is a positive factor. Quite the opposite in fact, with horses wearing the headgear for the first time winning much less often than the market would expect. This is true particularly with fancied runners, and simply laying every handicap favourite wearing first-time cheekpieces would have proven a profitable approach in recent seasons, even accounting for the commission paid. One who fits the bill here is Who’s My Jockey, who is put in as tissue favourite after a better effort saw him finish third to a subsequent winner, but he made hard work of it, and that may explain the headgear now.
On balance of form, the horse has something to prove, having been beaten three times this season from the same mark, which is 2lbs higher than for his latest defeat.
Philip Hobbs has been a poor yard to follow over the past 18 months, and while there have been a smattering of winners recently, his horses are still winning less often than their odds would imply.
On top of that, he has a dreadful 3% strike-rate with horses wearing cheekpieces for the first time, and this one looks a bad favourite on paper.
Recommended: Lay Who’s My Jockey to win 4pts @ 5.0 or shorter [max liability 16pts]
15:00 888sport Take ’em On Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle
Danse Idol is a skinny price after finishing second to Queenohears on her last two starts, but she looked the likeliest winner both times before being worn down, and she has little in hand of Papagana on either of those runs, with Oliver Sherwood’s mare closing the gap between them at Sandown, and looking the stronger stayer of the pair to my eye. She was certainly closing the gap on her rival after the last hurdle on both those runs, and I would fancy here in a match bet. There is also the possibility of Bonza Girl – winner of her last five – improving further, and Shantung is another bred to appreciate the stiffer test she faces.
With a few running for us, the percentage call is to oppose Danse Idol at the current odds.
Recommended: Lay Danse Idol to win 5pts @ 2.4 or shorter [max liability 7pts]
15:35 William Hill Grimthorpe Handicap Chase
Dingo Dollar makes limited appeal for a yard not firing on all cylinders. He was very disappointing when favourite for the SkyBet Chase here last month, and has now been beaten 17 and 24 lengths in two chase starts off his current mark. It could be argued that the handicapper ought to have eased him even after his third in the Ladbrokes trophy at Newbury, but it seems doubly harsh that he’s not been given any rope after his latest run when given every chance and looking rather cumbersome.
The longer trip will help a little, but it doesn’t make him look well treated, and while Alan King is a good trainer of staying chasers the market always seems to overcompensate for that.
In 2019, he’s had 16 runners in handicap chases, ten of which have started at 6.5 or shorter. Of those, only one has won, and that came at the princely price of 1.83.
Recommended: Lay Dingo Dollar to win 5pts @ 5.0 or shorter [max liability 20pts]
Rory joined Tom Stanley and Sma Turner on this week’s Podcast to preview the three feature handicaps between Newbury and Doncaster this weekend while the lads also give their three best ante post bets of the Cheltenham Festival.