Tip Of The Day: Bolley good show
Even without a grandstand, Wetherby is still a favourite destination of our man Will Hayler's. But can he find a winner there?
Ballybolley: Fancied to score at Wetherby today.
Jumps racing returns at Wetherby today with a good card that each year raises a not-inconsiderable amount of money for Spinal Research.
Yes, the Bobby Renton Chase isn't the race it was. Yes, there's currently a grandstand missing, and some will find themselves in portakabins and marquees this season until the new stand is finished next spring. Yes, Wetherby isn't perfect.
But the Charlie Hall Chase is shaping up to be a cracker this season, with Coneygree and Cue Card among those set to line up, and who doesn't enjoy an afternoon at 'The A1 track' enjoying jumps racing as it's meant to be, eating pic'n'mix in gentle, freezing drizzle?
The Grey Taylor makes some appeal in the Bobby Renton as I'd be 100% confident that he needed the run on his recent comeback over hurdles and his record at this track is good. If connections have sorted out the breathing issues that were affecting him at the end of last season, he'd have a great chance off a mark of 134 against fairly ordinary rivals.
Helium ran well encouragingly well on the Flat at Brighton last week and is an interesting long-distance traveller for Alex Dunn in the one-mile seven-furlong (still can't get used to that!) handicap chase at 5.05, and he knows how to win races, although the fact that's he still 7lb higher than any mark from which he has won before is a deterrent.
Instead, the bet must surely be Ballybolley in the racinguk.com Novices' Chase at even-money as he tackles three rivals making their first appearances over fences.
To be blunt, he hasn't delivered what might have been expected over fences so far given his very smart form in bumpers and over hurdles, but there are excuses. He prefers a decent racing surface (possibly, I am hypothesizing, to help his breathing) and can burn himself out from the front if allowed to bowl along. On other occasions, he didn't really have a chance, for example when pitched in against Douvan at Aintree on his penultimate start.
Here, he ought to get a lead from the free-going Shear Rock and, much as I admire Pam Sly's ability to get the most from her very small team, I'm not convinced Actinpieces is going to improve for going chasing – her relatives such as Helpston, Chicklemix and Bonnet's Vino all took time to get their act together over fences and none really ever looked natural jumpers of a fence.
Ballybolley was beaten again on his recent return at Newton Abbot but I'm guessing Paul Nicholls had Marracudja fairly straight for that race as he tries to advertise his new racing club, and the move up in distance here should definitely suit the selection.
Back in March, he absolutely scooted up in a handicap chase Haydock off a mark of 129 over the same sort of ground and trip as this and a repetition of that sort of effort would be good enough here. All in all, at even-money he's one I'm finding it very hard to get away from today.
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