A disappointing Saturday was rounded off by a heartbreaking last ditch short-head defeat for headline bet Bigmartre at Doncaster. There will be better days for him on a less gluey surface.
Sunday offers a scarcity of options. Naas provides the quality but not much by way of betting value, instead we turn to one of our favourites in the shape of Sedgefield.
We’ll be tracking any money for JP McManus’s suspiciously campaigned Cash Again (1510), but for a bet we turn to the opener (1310).
This 2m handicap hurdle features four likely market leaders. Reverant Cust is interesting, and we tipped him earlier in the season, but his return to form at Haydock recently has resulted in a fairly harsh 7lb rise for coming second leading to a career high mark which must leave him a little vulnerable around a track in which he is nil from three.
The New Pharoah is making a handicap debut after a novice hurdle win. A mark of 121 looks about right on that form. It is tempting to think he has plenty of improvement after only two hurdles runs, but a 19 run flat career probably blunts that room for progress. He has a chance, but will find this course very different to his recent Leicester win.
That leaves course winners Tonto’s Spirit and Black Art. Tonto comes from a good placed effort here over Christmas. He has the edge in experience, but that also means the handicapper has had a bit more time to get that rating right.
Our choice is Black Art. He won here last time, and that was a pretty resilient effort. An increase of 2lbs looks pretty generous, and with just 4 hurdles runs (6 lifetime runs) he can be expected to improve. Trainer Sue Smith and jockey Danny Cook remain a top combination at these northern tracks, and a repeat of last time’s battling performance should be enough to prevail.
Recommendation: Black Art, (1310 Sedgefield), 1pt win, 7/2 generally available
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