Racing Selections: 21/04/16

Well over a week since the last day of posting. I’ve been busy on track (went to Thirsk on Saturday) and with the racing not being too great, I’ve taken a back seat for the past few days. Plenty of flat horses having their first runs of the year, with some bad ground, doesn’t ideally suit. Valhalla last week provided us with a welcome winner and led to a profitable day, although it could have been better, with Fields Of Glory running another career-best, but just running into a well-handicapped one. The other three were disappointing.

Onto today’s selections. Briefer write-ups today.

14:40 Warwick– Vivas: 1pt @ 7/1 William Hill

Charlie Longsdon’s handicap debutante has got in here off a decent mark and should relish the quicker ground. The horse lacks size, and won’t have the scope of some of these going forward, but has fair form in bumpers, has room for improvement in certain aspects of his hurdling career and isn’t off a bad mark today for a handicap debut. Vivas showed his ability to handle quicker ground when 2nd at Fontwell back in October, trying really hard but going down by less than a length. It showed him to have a fair level of ability, a comment you can definitely apply to his two runs over hurdles.

Both of these efforts, over 2m3f on soft ground, suggest there are races to be won. Firstly, his jumping needs a little bit of work, but the switch back to better ground ought to help there and the form of his last run (when 4th) has worked out well. Although there’s been only two winners from 30 starts, the horse in 3rd ran well from a mark of 116 next time up. The one in 5th has gone well off a mark of 119 subsequently and I just feel that today’s opening handicap mark of 110 is lenient. They’ve switched straight to handicaps after just two starts, looks to have a little bit of mileage in terms of the rating and the better ground should help. He’ll go well although there’s a couple in here who potentially have similarly unexposed profiles.

17:30 Exeter – Up To Al: 2pts @ 12/1 Bet365, William Hill

Up To Al has been nowhere in two starts in handicaps since switching from Novice Hurdles but this point winner over 2m4f is surely better than a mark of 90 and the return to better ground alongside another step-up in trip, should see him in a better light. He won a P2P at Hexham last May over 2m4f on ground that looked on the quick side (can’t seem to find a going description anywhere but the pictures of that day made it look like quick ground) and he’s shown glimmers of ability in Novice Hurdles. He travelled noticeably well in a 3m Taunton Novice Hurdle in early December, before being kept wide and given an easy time of things once his chance was gone. That run was on better ground – which was the last time we saw him on ground anything quicker than “soft”. That run marked him out as one to keep an eye on, in my book anyway.

His two starts in handicaps (when sent off single figure prices in both) were poor, but I’m sure that bad ground isn’t his strongest suit and the switch to better ground will be more to his liking. He’s been dropped 10lbs since his opening mark and appeals as being well-handicapped on the basis of some of his Novice Hurdle form. He has more in his favour than in the past two starts, still is fairly unexposed and this trip will probably be more his liking too. There’s not many in here that have proved very much and I’m very hopeful of at least a decent run here today, hence the stake.

18:30 Exeter – Elkstone: 1pt @ 14/1 BetVictor, Ladbrokes

Elkstone was a previous selection where he travelled like a dream and then found absolutely nil. The premise of putting him up again, this time over slightly further on a stiffer track may like borderline stupid, but with a big field, strong pace likely and a further drop in the weights, I’ll give him another chance. These types are particularly difficult to get a handle on, and must be ridiculously frustrating for connections. Elkstone has the ability there to be 10-15lbs better than his current rating of 102, if he could find even a bit off the bridle. Today’s field of 18 runners though, should lead to a strong pace and I can see an ideal situation being, that they go off hard and the leaders fall away in front of him. I’d certainly prefer backing these types in big field contests rather than those over smaller field. Wayne Hutchinson might also get a different tune out of him and although I guess I am kind of clutching at straws here, with lots to suit here in terms of the conditions of the race, I’ll have a go at this double figure price.

Summary of Selections:

14:40 Warwick– Vivas: 1pt @ 7/1 William Hill, Bet365, BetVictor

17:30 Exeter – Up To Al: 2pts @ 12/1 Bet365, William Hill, Stan James

18:30 Exeter – Elkstone: 1pt @ 14/1 BetVictor, Ladbrokes

All prices Best Odds Guaranteed

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