February is over. A month that started with promise and ended with a nose dive into the dark depths of losses is now concluded.
March has a much nicer ring to it than February, n’est pas?
4.30 Ffos Las – Double Dragon National Ale of Wales Handicap Chase
A five runner handicap chase over 2m 5f on soft.
Dead or alive would be interesting under the Majors favourite, Dickie Johnson. Going off top weight on soft after a fair break is unlikely to bring the best from this 9/2 shot though. His latest good form last summer reads well in terms of the mark but all of that was summer running on good ground.
Patman du Charmil seems a much older horse to the Major as I remember him finishing down the field on Paddy Power Gold Cup day in the novice hurdle, which is the last race of that day. The winner was Fair Along, Afsoun and Kasbah Bliss filled the places, a great race. I remember Fair Along coasting at the top of the hill, he had surged to an early lead and at one point was 40l up on the field, as he freewheeled down the hill, I remember the commentary was along the lines of ‘well just maybe they have given this leader a bit too much respect’… why do I remember that so well five and a half years on. That would be because I had a slip with Fair Alongs name on it, when he held on by circa 5l, jubilation. Patman has a real chance tomorrow. Seemingly rejuvenated at the age of 8, up 8lbs would not be a problem, he has raced fairly well off bigger marks.
My main concern would be his tendency to smack a fence. I certainly wouldn’t be interested in him back at Cheltenham but his latest win at Southwell shows over easier obstacles he can cope. Ffos Las offers him similar fast flat conditions and manageable fences. Never raced on worse than soft, he rarely runs when he gets his toe in and his record is 4 4 7 PU 2 PU PU, it is not his best form, although the 2nd was OK, ground a concern, else a great chance. A small field is a consideration for this front running sort too.
Horsfield probably wants it as soft as he can get it. There might be a dusting of a shower of the Atlantic tomorrow but generally, it looks like soft it will be. You can forgive this one an error on chase debut, especially at Wincanton. The New Years Day penultimate start is more interesting. That day, he finished a 7l second to Mics Delight who went on to score again and now is rated 130 over hurdles. Some of Horsfields hurdle form was over a probably inadequate distance. His former win as a novice hurdler over two and a half miles in the deep Chepstow ‘heavy’, suggests this will be much more appropriate and indeed further in future may be in order. Tom Scudamore returns to the saddle tomorrow. Taking the New Years Day run and using the form of the winner, accepting then a mistake on chase debut and looking at the unexposed nature, this is one of significant interest. Pipe has had a couple of winners in recent days.
Youngstown goes on all ground but has been without a win for 14 months since a double at Market Rasen and then Catterick. They have been ambitious with the horse at times, it has twice finished down the field at the festival. The last three races have seen Youngstown as a defeated favourite, clearly some confidence exists. Jason Maguire would be an important aspect as it is a McCain horse. That said I think this horse might be the one filling the horse box with Thumbs Up, a higher quality horse targeting an earlier race.
Top Benefit has been dropped a further 5lbs in hope of finding him a competitive mark – This is the horses third attempt in February, his run in January was his best form and it is interesting that Sam Thomas is back in the saddle. Possibly soft is the best ground, maybe they continue to persist expecting the penny to drop…. it is not hard to imagine it is capable of better but on profile, I prefer others.
Patman du Charmil could get an easy lead and his jumping could well hold up over these easier fences but soft ground may not be ideal. Top Benefit may be dropping to a competitive mark but is less convincing. Youngstown has let punters down on a few occasions.
Horsfield is the selection. 10/3 with the only open market (Hills). Have a slice and let March bring great joy and riches. After all, it is the month that the lord made for National Hunt fans. Patman du Charmil is the obvious danger if putting in a clear round.