It’s Badger Beers Day at Wincanton, which is always a great handicap to watch early in the season. There’s a strong contingent from the Paul Nicholls’ stable at his local track to look out for. A bit further up North, we’ve action over the National fences at Aintree and the rescheduled November handicap at Newcastle.
The Old Ones Are Best
2:25 – 62nd Badger Beers Handicap Chase (Premier H’cap) – Frodon @ 18/5 (BetVictor)
Frodon performed so well in the Badger Beers last year, you feel as though this is the best opportunity to get a win this season. The 12-Y-O is possibly one of the most loved horses in racing and it will be sad when he leaves the scene. For today, he’s back on the same wining mark as he was last year and can go on any ground at all. I think Nicholls’ other runner, Threeunderthrufive, will be aiming for bigger prizes later this season.
Blackjack Magic was an very progressive chaser last season, and goes well fresh too. He won’t want the ground drying out too much, as he is a mud lover. But I think we’ll be seeing much more of Blackjack Magic in these types of races this season and is certainly interesting at 9/1 (BetUK)
Ballygriffincottage was on my radar at the start of last season, but things went awry, and we never saw him at his best. His jumping wasn’t great on seasonal reappearance at Newton Abbot and needs to rediscover his form from Haydock this time last year. He’s off the same mark as that win and can give a good account of himself if he jumps well. 16/1 (William Hill) is a fair price.
Maybe Not Nicholls
2:25 – Elite Hurdle (Grade Two) – Hansard @ 7/4 (William Hill, Betfred)
This isn’t a Grade Two by any standards. With four runners, and two of them far clear of the other pair. It’s a match with Rubaud, who shaped well at Kempton last time out. But Hansard is a talented individual as well, and has beaten good-looking chaser Master Chewy over timber. He won’t mind the conditions, and can reverse the form from the Dovecote in February.
Banging The Drum
2:45 – Boylesports Grand Sefton H’cap Chase – Percussion @ 8/1 (BetUK)
This race is for the mud lovers, as the National course passed a 9AM inspection yesterday. Percussion is 1/1 on heavy ground, in a bizarre finish at Fontwell (Well worth a watch). Percussion also has the added advantage of competing over the National fences, finishing third in this race last year and the Becher Chase. He’s on a lower mark than both of those races and can be up there at the elbow.
Frero Banbou is another that catches the eye. Despite not competing over the National fences, and only once over two-and-a-half miles, he looks the sort that could relish the conditions. Venetia Williams is hitting a purple patch of form, and she has one that can perform on the conditions. Similar price to the main selection, 9/1 (General)
A Wily Choice
3:45 – November Handicap – Teumessias Fox @ 6/1 (General)
Teumessias Fox has a great record on the All-weather; two wins and two thirds. So, it’s safe to say he’ll be up there. He comes in the race fresh and has Callum Hutchinson claiming a crucial three pounds, which brings him down to the level he was in the Spring. Top weight won’t be much of a problem and can land the last big prize handicap of the flat.
Chillingham for Ed Bethell is another runner I find interesting for this contest. He both finished and started his seasons with wins in 22/23 and could do the same here. His form on soft ground will suit the tapeta and is only a pound higher than a narrow loss at Ripon in July. Off a break, he’s another that could go well on the Tapeta; one race, one third. 13/2 (General) is a price to be had.
Further down the market, Struth makes a bit of appeal. An established front-runner, he may face problems up the run-in. He’s down to a likeable mark, at which he was headed off the line at Ascot in August. If he runs a hot race, he may be hard to peg back. Unexposed on AW. 18/1 (BetVictor, Boylesports)
The very best of luck!