Twice a winner over hurdles last season, Wade Harper made a respectable, if unspectacular, start to his career over fences at Carlisle three weeks ago and can demonstrate the benefit of that experience in the Bet365 Handicap Chase (2.00) at Newbury on Thursday. The Westerner gelding was rallying when hitting the fourth last at Carlisle and, although he could make no further impression, eventually finishing fourth of seven, beaten 21 lengths, behind subsequent winner Double W’s, he looks a potential improver.
Copper Kay didn’t have to be at her best to land odds of 1/6 at Ffos Las last month and was occasionally less than fluent on her hurdling debut, but her bumper form entitles her to maximum respect and she can take another step forward in the Whitley Stud Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle (2.35) at Newbury. Trainer Philip Hobbs has a strong hand in this division this season and she’s bred to be a champion.
Peter The Mayo Man looks ever inch a chaser in the making, but has returned to action in excellent form over hurdles and can complete a hat-trick in the KKA-Highpoint Handicap Hurdle (3.45) at Newbury. The Dylan Thomas gelding had been absent, due to injury, since turned over at odds-on at Bangor in March, but looked better than ever when winning a novices’ hurdle at Warwick five weeks ago and looks reasonably weighted on his handicap debut.
Selections: Newbury 2.00 Wade Harper, Newbury 2.35 Copper Kay, Newbury 3.45 Pete The Mayo Man (3 x 1-point Win Doubles, 1 x 1-point Win Treble)
Cardiff City versus Wigan Athletic
Cardiff City have picked up seven points from a possible nine since Neil Warnock replaced Paul Trollope earlier this month, suggesting the Bluebirds may have turned a corner. Warnock was quick to warn against rising expectations at the Cardiff City Stadium but, at 11/10, his side look decent value to see off a Wigan side that has yet to win away from the DW Stadium this season. Indeed, the Latics have beaten just Wolves and Blackburn in what’s been a frustrating campaign so far and may find their efforts thwarted once again.
Ipswich Town versus Rotherham United
Ipswich have hardly set the world on fire so far this season, but have won three and drawn three of their eight home games in the Championship and, at 8/13, should be too good for bottom side Rotherham, who have won just one game all season and lost their last seven in a row. The appointment of Kenny Jackett and the signing of Peter Odemwingie may ultimately improve the Millers’ fortunes, but they remain vulnerable.
Reading versus Nottingham Forest
Reading needed a late winner to beat Rotherham at the New Stadium last Saturday but, while the Royals have failed to convert possession into goals in recent outings, they face a Nottingham Forest side that has picked up just two points away from home in the current Championship campaign. Indeed, the Reds have won just once in eight games so, at 19/20, Reading look the team to side with on this occasion.
Selections: Cardiff City (11/10), Ipswich Town (8/13), Reading (19/20), 1-point Win Treble (5.61/1 with Bet365)
In the 5.45 at Chelmsford on Thursday, the nicely bred John T Chance didn’t see a racecourse until July, but has shown steady improvement since and should be suited by the step up to 1 mile 2 furlongs. The Lawman gelding is 6lb higher in the weights than when winning a similar race, over 1 mile ½ furlong, at Wolverhampton earlier this month, but is unexposed over middle distances and appeals as the type to continue his progress. Winning jockey Jim Crowley retains the ride, which is a positive sign.
In the 8.15 at Chelmsford, Satish is becoming a little frustrating, but he seems genuine enough and ran as well as he ever has in a similar race over course and distance three starts ago. The Dansili gelding was a little disappointing when turned over at odds-on in a three-runner handicap at Newmarket last month but, stepping back up in distance on Polytrack, can put his experience to good use at this level.
Selections: Chelmsford 5.45 John T Chance, Chelmsford 8.15 Satish, 1-point Win Double