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Darran

Hunter Chase 4.45 Ffos Las

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I am going to start with the Ludlow review and it was great to see Road To Rome continue his great start to the season as well as helping us continue our great start as well. Hopefully I can now find a winner of a race that he isn't in. His jumping wasn't always great again although he never looks like falling, but with Cheltenham in mind I am not sure he can afford to make the mistakes he does round there, but I think he has to go on any shortlist. There was a brief moment when the 2nd looked threatening, but he was probably just idling really and the result was never really in too much doubt. Apparently it will be Leicester next at the end of the month before Cheltenham although I have already said that at least once before so he will probably be out again next week!

Queen Olivia ran her usual solid race and drifted back out to double figures again for anyone who preferred taking a chance e/w on something at a bigger price. The wind op seems to have worked as she pulled well clear of the rest and she was just beaten by a much superior horse. It was good to see Always On The Run run well given I tipped him up for the Hereford race. He couldn't lead today, but it seems in the right race he can find a wining opportunity this season. The only thing about the race that slightly surprised me as Marinero finishing even further behind the winner than he did last time. He emptied very quickly again and there could well be an issue there. O Maonlai was still going OK when taking a horrible fall so hopefully he is fine. Upswing ran a stinker as his profile suggested he might well do and god knows who was backing Connetable into single figures at one stage and he ran every bit as poorly as I suspected he would.

We sadly lost the Scottish Foxhunter on Saturday, but we have the Welsh version to look forward to on Thursday and obviously we have a David Maxwell runner in it. This time it is Ballotin who made a winning debut over here when landing the Bobby Renton at Wetherby in October 2017. That was off a mark of 139 and although the ground is very different here given he is ex French he is used to running in testing conditions. He ran poorly when he was last seen although that was over hurdles. He's only 8 so chances are he hasn't gone backwards all that much and we know that Hobbs' horses are running much better this season. If he won it wouldn't surprise me, but I am going to take him on as I am not sure there is too much scope for him to run that far behind his handicap mark of 141.

Dineur runs for the first time since winning the 2017 Aintree Foxhunters' which was a superb effort. He also finished 2nd in this after over a year off in 2016 when the ground was just as testing. The problem is this time around he is 13 and not run for getting on for 2 years. You also have to think this is a starting place as he builds up to Aintree so I find it hard to see him winning.

Double Ross is a really poor price at the time of writing and I would be amazed if he doesn't start in double figures. He faded pretty tamely at Warwick and hardly looked like a horse who was about to go and win one of these especially a race which is reasonably strong. Kelvingrove also looks plenty short enough on his first start since leaving Jonjo O'Neill's for just over £5k. He won at Taunton in December 2017 off 119, but he will need to better that to win this and the rest of his form around it is poor although to be fair that isn't unusual for a Jonjo horse! Millborough and Tulsa Jack are impossible to fancy although the latter did finish in front of Double Ross at Warwick and yet is 5x the price. Moreece won in the opening day of the last pointing season, but wasn't seen after that. He unseated on Hunter Chase night at Stratford prior to that and his other Hunter Chase run saw him finish a fair 5th in the Dunraven Bowl at Chepstow. He will surely need this though and that form leaves him with a bit to find.

That leaves me with the 3 horses I am going to back. First of all I can't help but have a small bet on Bally River Boy. Granted he was pulled up at Warwick, but he couldn't do his usual front running tactics that day. There is a chance he might not be able to do it here either, but it certainly looks easier for him to be able to do so and what is key for me is the fact he bolted up at the point-to-point here in December on heavy ground so we know he handles Ffos Las heavy. He might not be quite good enough to win, but at a biggish price he is worth a small cover bet e/w.

Mister Robbo has to be one of the selections. He seems to have improved a lot since coming to the UK despite only having two starts. He bolted up in a Restricted at Howick, but it is his 2nd last time at Clifton which really catches the eye. He pushed Road To Rome closer than any other horse so far this season and even managed to get into the lead at one point in the home straight. Now I am not going to say that he is a 130's horse himself, but he clearly looks to have a fair level of ability based on what I saw from the video of the race. He won his maiden in soft ground in Ireland so hopefully this different ground will be fine and if that form is to be taken at face value he is more than capable of going close in this.

Now the main bet is actually going to be a horse I was not only originally going to take on here, but was also going to take on at Hereford before it got called off. I wasn't that impressed with Vedettariat's form when he first came here in 2017 and his jumping left plenty to be desired especially when he was 2nd at Horseheath. However I was looking at his form again this afternoon and I wondered if his jumping might be better in heavy ground given he enjoyed those conditions when trained by Willie Mullins. I then found some quotes from Mullins when he won a Beginners' Chase in 2015 where he said Ruby Walsh got off and said he wants heavy ground and he jumped better in it. I then found a story on the official point-to-point website about the horse. Gina Andrews comes back from injury and was keen to ride him and then trainer/husband Tom Ellis added this 

 "He had a touch of a leg, which is why he's been off a long time, but everything is in his favour tomorrow. He's won over that trip in Ireland and will love heavy ground – the wetter the better. We made such a mess of him in his first season, and when we ran him on soft he won by half the track."

The yard have been flying and there is little doubt for me that he will be fit and ready to do himself justice. I think 6/1 is a very fair e/w price and we know he is one horse in the race who will love the ground.

Vedettariat 1.5pts e/w @ 6/1 with Bet365

Mister Robbo 1pt @ 4/1 with Bet365

Bally River Boy 0.25pts e/w @ 25/1 with Betfair/Paddy Power

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