TAKE on the choppy waters of this tricky handicap with PADLEYOUROWNCANOE. He landed a couple of races on soft ground last season before running with credit when upped in grade.
My fancy seemed well suited by the big field when fourth in the Fred Winter Juvenile Handicap at the Cheltenham Festival.
There’s been nothing wrong with his efforts this season but he’s just seemed to lack the required pace over 2m on faster ground. The demands of today’s race look ideal.
Champ could easily be too good for this lot. He went down by a neck to smart Vinndication on his hurdles debut in January before landing a couple of novices’ hurdles in the spring.
The handicapper hasn’t been too severe but he’s not as streetwise as most of his rivals.
Speedo Boy won in the manner of a well-treated horse at Cheltenham two weeks ago. He’s sure to win more races but he wouldn’t want the ground to get any softer.
Barters Hill would eat this on his best form but he’s had stacks of problems. It remains to be seen how good he is these days.
Big Chief Benny is obviously well weighted after two years off the track. I’m not worried about his absence with Alan King doing the training.
BALLYMOY is the boy for the Ladbrokes Gerry Fielden.
He progressed rapidly throughout last season. Nigel Twiston-Davies’ ace completed a hat-trick with a strong late burst to land the 20-runner Novices’ Championship Final at Sandown in April.
It was good to see him pick up where he left off when winning a nice little Chepstow handicap last month and he looks ready for this step up in grade.
Mont Des Avaloirs was fourth behind Ballymoy at Sandown as he’s weighted to reverse that form. He reverts to hurdling after an uninspiring chase debut.
Whatswrongwithyou was another useful novice last season. A brace of Newbury wins saw him go off favourite for the Imperial Cup.
He was far from disgraced in third especially as he didn’t have the smoothest passage through. My main worry is that he did improve a fair bit for his comeback run last season.
Global Citizen was beaten favourite for the Grade 1 Top Novices’ Hurdle at Aintree’s Grand National meeting having bolted up in the Dovecote at Kempton.
He didn’t run badly on his return but I’ve a feeling he might have been over-rated by the handicapper.
STEAM into Thomas the bank engine in the Ladbrokes Trophy. I was hugely impressed with THOMAS PATRICK last season.
His jumping was exceptional when he notched up a Newbury victory in March before following up at Aintree on Grand National day.
For much of his comeback at Sandown he looked likely to win.
His jumping was deadly accurate and I’m sure it was just a lack of fitness that allowed Elegant Escape to get past in the closing stages.
Tom Lacey’s ace will be much sharper today and is 5lbs better off at the weights today. The longer trip will also help but Thomas Patrick is not just a mud-loving slogger.
He could easily jump them into the ground from a prominent position under Richard Johnson and I wouldn’t put anyone off backing him ante-post for the Gold Cup at monster odds.
Ms Parfois is a similar type. She jumps well, stays well and does well.
After rattling off a soft-ground hat-trick she finished runner-up in the 4m National Hunt Chase at Cheltenham and the Grade 1 Mildmay Novices’ Chase.
The recent rain has given her chance a real boost and this is just the sort of race she is made for. Elegant Escape beat Black Corton in the John Francome Chase at this meeting 12 months ago.
He was a fair way behind Ms Parfois when third at Aintree but today’s rack will suit him much better. I just feel he might have shown his hand more than Thomas Patrick.
Dingo Dollar had a nice spin over hurdles to set him up for today but his form doesn’t match up to that of some of his rivals.
Templegate’s TV tips
DON’T be a Village idiot. It would be stupid to ignore DOITFORTHEVILLAGE. He’s back to the same handicap rating as when winning at Cheltenham last November.
Paul Henderson’s hope tried to win that same race without a prep run this year and he was putting up a big show until slipping badly after jumping the second-last fence.
That should have put the edge on him and today’s softer ground won’t be a problem.
The recent rain won’t have helped Bigmartre. He needs to bounce back from a disappointing effort on his return to action but it wouldn’t be too wise to hold that against him.
His form from last season was good with a trio of wins including the Grade 2 Future Champions’ Chase at Ayr. It has to be said he seems best on decent ground and that has to be a worry.
Lady Buttons is a lovely mare. She has won twice from three runs over fences and she was successful in a mares’ Listed hurdle on her return at Wetherby.
That race lacked depth but ground conditions will be in her favour today.
Top Gamble hasn’t won for two-and-a-half years but he has faced some stiff tasks. Kerry Lee’s ace has slipped in the weights and could be dangerous if ready to rock first time out.
IT’S Summer time in the BetVictor Fighting Fifth Hurdle.
SUMMERVILLE BOY put in a remarkable last burst to win the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at Cheltenham having lost plenty of ground at the last two jumps.
He had previously beaten Kalashnikov in the Tolworth far more convincingly than he did at the Festival but I’ve no doubt he improved for each run.
There has to be a decent chance he’s stepped forward a fair way over the summer. Both his Grade 1 wins came on heavy ground but I’m not worried about today’s conditions.
They could even be in his favour as the pace might be quicker than on testing ground and that would certainly help.
Taking on dual Champion Hurdler Buveur D’Air is not going to be easy. His only hurdles defeat came when third behind Altior in possibly the hottest Supreme at Cheltenham in 2016.
Since then he’s bossed the top races but I’ve no doubt this is far from a vintage bunch of 2m hurdlers.
Samcro might not achieved what Buveur D’Air has yet but most were talking up as a future champ when he beat Summerville Boy’s stablemate Black Op in the Ballymore at Cheltenham.
His crown has slipped a little since then as he fell when odds-on favourite for Punchestown’s Champion Hurdle and he was handed a surprise defeat by Bedrock on his return.
I’m sure he’s going to need further to show his best.
PUT the BetVictor Rehearsal Chase to the Test. Promising TESTIFY impressed in three small-field races last winter before being found out at Cheltenham and Aintree in the spring.
He still has stacks of potential and he’s had a wind operation since he last ran. I’ve always thought he would be best over 3m.
The only times he’s run over today’s trip since winning a novices’ hurdle was in Grade 1 races. This looks a very winnable race and I’m really keen on him.
Ballydine ended last season with a Sandown win in January. The form hasn’t really worked out and he’s a horse who’s had his problems.
Bishops Road had a hard race when runner-up over 3m4f at Haydock last weekend. It would be some effort to win this just seven days later.
Big River is one I’m interested in. He has always threatened to develop into a useful stayer and I’ve a feeling he will be at his best this season.
12.20 Euxton Lane
12.55 Mr Monochrome
1.30 Wandrin Star
2.00 A Little Chaos
2.35 Finawn Bawn
3.10 So Sorry Sarah
3.45 Just Rocky
1.10 Shiroccan Roll
1.45 Boreham Bill
2.15 The Sweeney
2.50 Titian Boy
12.10 Lust For Glory
1.20 Kayf Adventure
3.00 Thomas Patrick
3.35 Doitforthevillage (nap)
11.50 Style De Vole
1.35 Aintree My Dream
2.05 Summerville Boy
2.40 Idee De Garde
3.20 Testify (nb)
5.15 Secret Ace
5.45 The Night Watch
6.15 Kodiac Pride
6.45 Viola Park
7.15 Merhoob (treble)
7.45 Original Choice
8.45 Lucky’s Dream