The start of a new week and the daily free feature is the Pace tab for all races, whilst our free full cards cover the following races...
- 2.20 Plumpton
- 2.45 Dundalk
- 4.10 Wolverhampton
- 4.40 Wolverhampton
- 7.30 Kempton
As you know, races in extreme going conditions are always of interest, as are small-field races that might turn into tactical affairs. Throw in the possibility of a short priced favourite and you've got the perfect storm and thankfully for us, we get in the 2.20 Plumpton, a 6-runner, Class 4, Handicap Chase for 4yo+ over 2m1f on heavy ground worth £4,289 to the winner.
Our card looks like this...
...which tells us that...
Le Coeur Net reappears for the first time in over nine months after a good season that unfortunately fizzled out post-Christmas. Trainer Anthony Honeyball is in good form, has a good record at the track and also does well with lower grade chasers in general, whilst jockey Ben Godfrey is riding really well having won two from five in the past week.
Wenceslaus ran well two starts ago, but was disappointing last time out and both yard and jockey are struggling for form. Horse also rated last on our ratings.
Court Duty looks like being a fairly short favourite and won well eight days ago, but jockey Richard Johnson has an unusually poor record at this track (0 from 38 since the start of 2016!)
Darling Alko is second on our ratings and makes his seasonal bow some 252 days after ending last season with three top three finishes from his only three efforts over fences. Very lightly raced so far but has shown an aptitude for soft ground. Jockey Max Kendrick is going well and should be good value for his 3lb claim.
Bad Boy Du Pouldu tops our ratings, comes here in great form and hails from a yard that has historically done well at this venue. From the cards alone, he's the standout for me, as opposed to the likely favourite.
Robin Des Mana looked like he needed the run last time out when well beaten (almost 70 lengths) at Fontwell four months ago. Will need serious improvement to be involved here, you'd have thought, based on the card data.
The next place I go, is Instant Expert, of course...
...which shows that three of the six have won on heavy ground previously, whilst Wenceslaus has a particularly good record at this venue. All six are running off higher marks than their last win and although Robin Des Mana has a win at this trip to his name, a 1 in 7 record is actually a negative to me, as his is record on heavy ground for the same reason. 0 from 5 on heavy is also another red mark against the potential fav, Court Duty.
And as the Pace tab is Monday's free feature, we really should take a look at that and see if it offers us any pointers...
Darling Alko looks well positioned there to try and make all from the front, but the reports from his past races are littered with the word "weakened", suggesting that although his usual tactics often work here at Plumpton, they don't actually work for him! This then, of course, sets him up as a sitting target for the ones in behind him and judging from that pace map, they'll probably all be fairly close together. For what it's worth, I wouldn't be putting money on him holding out, especially coming off a break of over eight months!
So, Darling Alko isn't for me here, nor is Le Coeur Net. He has obvious ability, but ended last season poorly yet has been offered little/no respite from the handicapper. I'm certain that LCN will win races this season and he could well win this one, but I can't back him first time up after the way he ended the previous campaign. The remaining four have all had at least one run this season and three of them have put at least one decent effort in, the exception being Robin Des Mana, who I think is the worst horse in the contest, so he's out too!
And now we're down to three...Bad Boy Du Pouldu, Court Duty and Wenceslas.
Bad Boy Du Pouldu has been beaten on both efforts on heavy ground, but stamina shouldn't be his undoing having won at both 2m1.5f and 2m2f, he also has a couple of Class 4 wins under his belt and his trainer Gary Moore is 23 from 95 (24.2% SR) since the start of 2014 with chasers sent off at 7/1 and shorter here at Plumpton.
Court Duty won well last time out at Ffos Las, but he's up 7lbs for that win, hasn't had long to rest and his jockey hasn't won at this track for years. The horse himself is 0 from 5 on heavy ground and hasn't looked like winning, losing by a combined 144 lengths in those five efforts. On the plus side, he's a far better chaser than he was at NHF/hurdling (3/13 vs 1/12), stays half a mile further than this and has won at a higher grade.
The last of our trio is Wenceslaus, who flopped somewhat fifteen days ago, but had run really well on his seasonal bow four weeks earlier. Perhaps the first run had taken too much out of him and he needed a bit longer to recover. Showed some promise last season when winning three of five over fences. He is three from four here at Plumpton including two from two over fences. One of those wins here was over 2m1.5f on heavy ground where he prevailed by the best part of ten lengths.
Of the three I've shortlisted, I like Bad Boy Du Pouldu the best. I'd not be having Court Duty as short as 7/4 early doors and I don't think there's too much between him and Wenceslaus.
With just six runners, we only get two places for an E/W or place only bet, but if that's the route you wanted to go, then Wenceslaus is currently 7/1 and if he's in the mood to run like he has done here in the past, that could be a good bet. I'd be leaving Court Duty alone as Bad Boy Du Pouldu is the one to beat in my book. Currently priced at 3/1, which seems pretty fair.