Phill Anderson's tips for Wednesday include selections from Punchestown, Ludlow and Nottingham.
Lots of quality racing in store this midweek as the National Hunt season begins a proper emergence from summer slumber.
Punchestown, Ludlow and Sedgefield go over jumps on Wednesday while there’s Flat racing on the turf at Nottingham and from the all-weather at Kempton in the evening.
It’s fair to suggest that over the coming weeks there will be many signals of the National Hunt season going through the gears and plenty of moments where it’s possible to suggest that ‘this is where the season starts for real’.
In that regard, Wednesday’s Punchestown card deserves to be in the conversation with a former Gold Cup winner and an unbeaten Champion Bumper scorer amongst the attractions at the Co Kildare home of Irish jumps racing.
We have three selections below for Wednesday’s action.
Minella Indo (Punchestown 16.10) @ 11/4
Back On The Lash (Ludlow 17.05) @ 9/4
Let’s Dream (Nottingham 15:47) @ 11/5
Minella Indo can down Elliott pair on comeback
Wednesday’s Punchestown card is laced with quality. The afternoon opens with a maiden hurdle that brings out last season’s unbeaten Champion Bumper winner A Dream To Share as John Kiely’s charge embarks on the next stage of his career and that’s a contest not to be missed as such.
Later on, the Grade 3 Irish Daily Star – Best For Racing Coverage Chase brings together some established performers in this sphere.
Gordon Elliott sends dual Grade 1 winner Conflated and two-time Cheltenham Cross Country hero Delta Work into battle against no less than MINELLA INDO – the 2021 Cheltenham Gold Cup hero for Henry De Bromhead.
Though Minella Indo didn’t scale those heights the season after he won the Blue Riband, including when second behind Conflated in the Irish Gold Cup, there’s reason to believe he is the one to beat now.
He made a winning comeback last season at Tramore on New Year’s Day, getting the better of Stattler in a cracking effort, and his only other run was in the Gold Cup at Cheltenham where things didn’t go his way, eventually pulled-up by Nico de Boinville.
He goes well fresh, drops in class here and the fact Conflated must concede him 6lb should be enough to turn things his way under Rachael Blackmore.
Keighley’s charge has class for Ludlow score
BACK ON THE LASH ended last season with pulled-up runs in the Cross Country at Cheltenham and the Grand National at Aintree but it would be folly to write off Martin Keighley’s charge based on those.
He’d earlier won around Cheltenham’s Cross Country track in January but the run that might be the best barometer for this race came back in November at the Cotswolds venue over their regulation fences when he finished third in a Premier Handicap won by subsequent Grade 2 third Does He Know for Kim Bailey. He was racing off this mark of 137 that afternoon and was beaten less than four-lengths by a progressive rival.
Back On The Lash is a three-time winner at this sort of trip over fences so the drop in trip is no concern and he has gone well fresh before. This is a marked drop in class and Sean Bowen’s partner can give weight and a beating to these five rivals.
Turner set for home win on Let’s Dream
Hayley Turner partners LET’S DREAM for trainer Michael Bell in the British Stallion Studs EBF Nursery at Nottingham and can register a winner at the track nearest to where she grew up.
Turner has been cracking recent form, boasting a 25 per-cent strike-rate in recent weeks, including a Wolverhampton winner on Monday evening in her only ride of the meeting. It’s a similar story here, with this Territories colt her only mount on the afternoon.
Let’s Dream has improved with each of three starts thus far and there was plenty to like in the way he won his Goodwood maiden (1m2f, soft) a fortnight ago.
Turner always had him well-placed in that contest and they moved between horses two furlongs out to challenge before kicking on powerfully to leave the market leaders behind in second and third.
The step up in trip clearly helped and the soft ground was no barrier, a positive in regards to this contest, and an opening mark of 82 should be something he’s able to handle.