1.50pm Kempton – The Unit 2pts Win (3/1)
Alan King’s string are in flying form at the moment and on the other side of things, Paul Nicholls’ are not. Therefore I’m taking the hot favourite Cyrname on with The Unit. They have kept him on the sidelines while waiting for better ground which he finally gets today. He was a classy hurdler, finishing 3rd in a Grade 1 at Aintree and his narrow third over fences at Huntingdon behind Willoughby Court and Casablanca Mix looks strong with both having gone in again since.
2.55 Fairyhouse – Drumacoo 1pt Each Way (8/1)
Lightly raced for a nine year old, Drumacoo has had just the 11 starts but they have yielded 4 wins and a pair of seconds. He was smart for Ben Pauling a couple of years ago, rated 143, he has since moved back to his first handler Michael Hourigan. He clearly needed the run on his seasonal reappearance following a year on the sidelines and last time he showed a much improved display, finishing a nose second when 28 lengths clear of the third. Back over hurdles off a mark of just 128 (9lbs lower than his chase mark) with Robbie Power on board for the first time, I can see him going well.
3.40pm Chepstow – Coeur Blimey 1pt Win (4/1)
I’m taking a chance here that Coeur Blimey has learnt to jump as he has looked pretty scruffy. But joking aside I was pleased with his run in the Betfair Hurdle as he seemed to get outpaced before staying on past horses to be fourth. His run in the Lanzarote Hurdle is working out well with the fourth and seventh winning handicaps since. Based on ability I have absolutely no doubt that Coeur Blimey is well-handicapped off a mark of 132, he beat Ballyandy in a bumper and was also second to Air Horse One in a novice hurdle. He tries this trip for the first time and I’m hoping that the slower tempo will help tidy up his jumping, he’ll like the conditions and hopefully Lucy Gardner can steer him home.
3.55pm Newcastle – Smart Talk 0.5pts Win (16/1)
Not seen on the track for almost 2 years, Smart Talk was tailed off in a Grade 2 when last seen but I’m more than willing to forgive her that after such a long absence. Very good in her novice days, she was sent off 6/1 when rated 149 for the Mares Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival in 2016. Back in a handicap off a mark of 130, I’m taking a chance that she retains her ability but that’s all factored into the generous price.