Sedgefield Wednesday 7th February
NORTHERN - Sedgefield 4.10 Handicap Hurdle - Class 5 - 2 miles 4 furlongs - 13 run - soft
This is a race where not too many go on genuinely Soft ground and any rain however light may suit a few more than others.
At the top end of the market Coup De Gold won here over 2 miles and 1 furlong recently and is upped 4lbs and upped in trip, I think it's opposable at the price as is Just Call Me Al who is very hit and miss and almost all of its better efforts have been on better ground with "Good" in the Going description. Swift Reply was an eye-opening 50/1 runner up here on its last start and that was a complete change in form for the horse. Was it a genuine improvement or a flash in the pan?, I'm not sure enough to invest to be honest and feel a couple of the others are more solid each way value.
BUSHMILL BOY disappointed a little dropped to 2 miles and 6 furlongs at Newcastle last time but that was on bottomless Going, a further step back and on soft but not deep ground boosts my confidence that this horse is about to deliver something tangible and I'll be disappointed if its not placed at least. VELASCO also drops back in trip, is OK on soft Going and has a decent e/w chance at a nice price from a yard that is in decent overall form.
Tips (1) Bushmill Boy / (2s) Velasco
NORTHERN - Sedgefield 4.40 Handicap Hurdle - Class 5 - 3 miles 3 furlongs - 12 run - Soft
The conundrum here is not just the Going but the trip and again I'm happy to take on the market leader who is at a very short price.
Townhill is around 15/8 and the one to beat but by no means a certainty at this extended trip in soft ground. Onespeedatatime is an undoubted Course and Distance specialist over Fences but drops into a Hurdle race for the first time in nearly 2 years. It has Course and Distance Hurdle winning form too and the most recent Hurdle win was off a mark of 84. It runs off a mark of 92 with young Easterby claiming 7lbs and is one I think that could run incredibly well or not take to the smaller obstacles and get disinterested. After a lot of deliberation there are a few I think who are Hurdle specialists who could hold sway.
Just Jess steps up in trip and that's worth a try and will be a danger if getting it, Hillfinch is out of form but this Mare has won at this time of year before so may return to form unexpectedly at some point soon and Olivers Island (Going concerns) Victory Echo (need the run) are in the Tracker but overlooked today.
I think it could be the turn of another TRACKER horse in DILLARCHIE to get a win. A Course winner who ran well in cheekpieces last time, the trip should be within range and going just about OK for it today. Another TRACKER Horse is HOWZAT HIRIS who pops up from time to time; this trip is ideal, the going is fine as is the handicap mark and if the horse is on a going day then you can be sure that that underrated Emma Smith-Chaston will make maximum chance of the opportunity. Finally, ON WE GO who has been disappointing lately is another Mare who seems to peak at this time of year and the booking of Brian Hughes is a bit of an eyecatcher so back this one and take a price as Hughes's rides always attract in punters, especially if he wins earlier on the Card.
Tips (1) Dillarchie / (2s Howzat Hiris / (3s) On We Go