Given the delays at The Open due to torrential rain and high winds it seems fitting for the focus of the racing world to switch partly to the winter code this afternoon, as Market Rasen stages its valuable Summer Hurdle and Summer Plate.
Both races are contested by some of the most in form summer jumpers, trained by some of the most in form trainers, so it is not surprising that we had relatively lengthy shortlists for both races.
Betfred TV Summer Hurdle
John Ferguson is the most in form handler of them all having sent out 6 winners from his last 13 runners, but Dr Richard Newland isn’t far behind with 5 from 8.
Both are doubly represented in the Summer Hurdle, and three of their runners dominate the market, but it is the outsider of the four we like – GRAN MAESTRO.
The horse looks a typical improver for the Doctor and he ran his best race last time out at Sandown when just denied in a valuable heat over 2m 4f.
It is no bad thing for a horse competing in a fast run 2 mile race to stay a bit further than the minimum trip and conditions look ideal for him today. He can hopefully make a bold bid from the front with all sorts of headgear applied!
The other one to be on is a hold up performer, REGULATION.
Like many of these, Neil King’s 6 year old was decent on the flat and he has won two of his last three starts on the bridle. Good or faster ground looks to be the key to him and the strong end to end gallop here should see him settle nicely.
Of the rest, Hammersly Lake is interesting back down in trip and Hurricane Hollow is clearly on the upgrade and rates the main danger.
It is worth noting that Paddy Power are offering to refund losing bets on this race, if your horse finishes either second or third (max refund £50 per customer).
|Gran Maestro (ew)||2.55 Market Rasen||16/1||Paddy Power|
|Regulation (ew)||2.55 Market Rasen||9/1||Paddy Power|
Betfred Summer Plate
His trainer, Dan Skelton, also has a great chance in the Plate, courtesy of the mare, Pumped Up Kicks. However, this is a much stronger race than she has been contesting since coming over from Ireland and she will do well to show that same level of form now encountering horses of the quality of BABY MIX.
There is a question mark over the resolve of Warren Greatrex’s grey gelding, but this former top class hurdler remains dangerously well handicapped over fences and we are prepared to give him one more chance here.
Hopefully, he’ll be delivered late and if anyone can get him to finally realise his potential over the larger obstacles it is surely Greatrex.
Two relative veterans at the top of the weights are also interesting.
Champion Court has been revitalised recently, including by a spell hurdling, but at a bigger price CONQUISTO shouldn’t be ignored.
He has been freshened up by Brian Ellison and is starting to come down the weights. Decent claimer, Craig Gallagher also takes off a handy 7lbs and at his peak this course winner used to thrive in competitive heats such as this.
|Baby Mix (ew)||3.30 Market Rasen||10/1||Bet365, Betfred|
|Conquisto (ew)||3.30 Market Rasen||22/1||Stan James|
Weatherbys Super Sprint
At the other end of the age spectrum, the two year olds take centre stage in the Weatherbys Super Sprint on the level at Newbury.
The Hannon yard have dominated this race in recent years and they have a strong hand again today, but Mark Johnston’s juveniles have been the ones to follow this season and HAWATIF was impressive when winning over 6f last time out. The drop back in trip shouldn’t inconvenience her and she looks well drawn too.
Belvoir Bay could prove the pick of the Hannon runners, but there have been 20/1, 25/1 and 100/1 winners of this race in the last 9 years so we can’t resist adding a long shot to the portfolio.
We were tempted by Pacches, who would be a much shorter price if you ignore a poor run last time out, but in the end have settled on SUNNUA, who looks to have a better draw and who has been well backed on both her starts to date, suggesting she is showing plenty at home. There is definitely more to come from the Fahey filly.
|Hawatif (ew)||3.45 Newbury||9/1||Bet365, William Hill|
|Sunnua (ew)||3.45 Newbury||50/1||Bet365, Betfred|
Darley Irish Oaks
Finally, in the Irish Oaks, the size and make-up of the field lends itself to each way betting and the two we like are TOGETHER FOREVER, who Aiden O’Brien will surely get back to her best soon and won’t mind any rain, and GRETCHEN, who will have learned a lot having been pitched in at the deep end at Royal Ascot last time out.
|Together Forever (ew)||5.50 Curragh||10/1||Bet365|
|Gretchen (ew)||5.50 Curragh||16/1||Betfred|