The Major cannot sleep tonight. Many thoughts are swirling in the dark vortex of consciousness. To settle the mind, all that is required is some horseracing form, a steaming mug of tea and the dream of a juicy Friday winner!
To Stratford, home of the Bard, pretty market town straddling the Avon. The course is a flat effort with regulation fences.
The Stratford ground is likely to be quite firm tomorrow. Strong winds are blowing and there will not be much moisture left unless we get a bit of rain.
The Major is tending towards horses that are genuine summer jumpers. We are looking for an animal perhaps not too use this season but one with a fine record in conditions and at this time of year. Usual jockey and trainer considerations apply.
Some of the key figures on the stage look like this.
Rivaliste is one of the market leaders and you can understand why as he returns to hurdling. Previously running well of marks of 137, he is now down to 131 . Those good runs included a Cheltenham 3rd to Daves Dream on good ground. The two last runs have seen the mark diminish and it does strike you that he has fallen out of love with the game. That said, Nicholls has booked a 10lb claimer effectively making the mark 121 and at that weight it must be of interest – Particularly as may of Rivalistes errors follow jumping misjudgments, back hurdling this factor may be taken out. 4/1 seems reasonable, although never a winner on good, it has ran credibly placing twice from 3 times. This is Rivalistes 5th race this season so it has not been too used up, great chance.
The Pipe yard is in good nick and so 4/1 Dream Esteem enters calculations. It is a consistent sort but place opportunities only in the Majors eyes.
Altan Khan is young enough to improve again but although feasibly weighted, I think a better performance will come from elsewhere – not for the Major. Tatispout put Altan Khan down by 4 lengths when in receipt of 8lbs, today he gets just 4, probably Altan Khan is a better prospect in the Majors view given the slight error he made against Tatispout who hung left last time out and looked a little bit alarming.
The one that really catches the Majors eye is Kingsben. This horse has been off the track since October and has had just two runs over fences, impressing in neither. Earlier hurdles form has a decent look about it, some of the novice hurdles contested showed Kingsben could travel. He does have an alarming tendency to whack one when the going gets tough and this has surely prevented him winning more races. What really catches the eye is the booking of Graham Lee. He has an excellent strike rate for the trainer. 16/1, interesting.
The Major suggest a bet on Kingsben each way at 16/1. Those lacking in conviction should have a saver with the well treated Rivaliste, those brave enough should have a reverse forecast.
Get stuck in and allow the weekend to start with a bang.