A couple of interesting jump meetings today at Fakenham and Wincanton.
First let's look at Wincanton where there is a Class 3 handicap chase over 2m4f at 3:00pm but - with the ground being good-to-firm - it has attracted only 5 runners. What is interesting is that Paul Nicholls has sent his 6yo Present Man for the race, which will be only his 3rd outing over fences. He drops in trip from 3-miles for this race which could help him and, with the opposition looking fairly ordinary for a Class 3 race, he should do well. My issue are the current odds of just 2/1. With his inexperience it would be no surprise to see his jumping put under pressure,
There is a good future pointer from Paul Nicholls in respect of a horse that isn't running. Nicholls has won the Class 3 novice chase at 3:15pm at Fakenham 3 times in the past 4 years, and he had entered San Benedeto for the race but he's a likely non-runner. San Benedeto was a very consistent, game hurdler last season and, if he's transferred that attitude to novice chasing, he will be an interesting horse to follow this season.
The opening hurdle race at Fakenham has Throthehatch as the 11/10 fav and while I do think that - having spent last season novice chasing with some success till losing his confidence late in the season - he could be well handicapped, I'm not sure I'd have him as an 11/10 chance; more like 3/1.
The 4:25pm 3-mile handicap chase at Fakenham is a race we know on this blog, having tipped the winner of it last season. Again, it is only a small field of entries, with that man Paul Nicholls supplying the fav - Keltus. This summer Keltus has won 2 of his 5 chase races, and this is his 2nd stint at chasing as he race 4 times in novice chases during 2014-15 without winning and was back hurdling in 2015-16. Although he's not won beyond 2m5f he should have the stamina for this trip and looks fairly handicapped. Not so the 2nd-fav Workbench who has only run twice beyond 2m5f and merely plodded on in both those races. The 10yo Weisentraum hasn't run since finishing 4th of 5 runners in this race last season, and while he will stay the trip you have to wonder what sort of form he will retain and off OR135 he will need to be near his best to win.
Princeton Royale won 3 times as a hurdler, all over 3-miles, so we know he will stay this trip. He has won 2 of his 4 chase races to date (all this summer) and was perhaps unlucky to meet a well handicapped rival in Vintage Vinnie LTO who competed with him for the lead throughout the race. He could be a lot better than OR131 if he can settle better in his races as he likes to lead. However, he is a decent jumper of a fence with no obvious stamina limitations. Wadswick Court was also in that Vintage Vinnie race, but he will be unlikely to stay this trip as he's never run beyond 2m5f as a chaser or a hurdler. He does like to run prominently though (like Princeton Royale) and so there should be a good pace on throughout this race.
Gallery Exhibition did win a 6-runner 3-mile race at Catterick in Dec-14, but it was very slowly run (that wont be the case today) and he's not looked like a stayer in subsequent attempts at 3-mile. While Noble Legend seems to have lost his love for the game, and is unlikely to be involved in the finish.
So, do we take on the fav Keltus? There are odds of 11/2 available about PRINCETON ROYALE with Bet365 and PaddyPower with 5/1 available elsewhere and as I think the horse should be joint-fav with Keltus at 5/2 we seem to have found some value. We know the horse is race-fit, capable of winning, stays the trip and handles the ground. Those factors tell me we should have a wager.
Fakenham 4:25pm PRINCETON ROYALE, £10 Win @ 11/2 (Bet365 and Paddy Power)
Unfortunately, since I advised those on the email list at 9:00am the 11/2 has gone. There is still some 9/2 available with Ladbrokes and Stan James (everyone else is 4/1); and that is still fair, as I reckon he is a 5/2 chance.
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