Storm Ahead was a non runner yesterday. Folies Bergeres was disappointing at Windsor but Dollar Value failed by just a head to win at Wolverhampton.
There is little to make much appeal on today’s cards and just the two are of some interest.
2.45 – Hamilton – Alabanza. 1 pt e/w. Available at 11/1. (Skybet, Paddy Power, Betfair – 1/5 odds first 4)
Where’s Jeff showed promise on his first run as a three year old at Ripon in May and duly built on that reappearance when finishing to some effect in winning by three lengths at Newcastle five days ago. Turned out here under a six penalty he has the potential for further improvement and he understandably heads the market. However whether he should be as short as 13/8 is debatable. His thirteen opponents in that all age race at Newcastle had recorded just 23 victories from 350 races combined and the three to follow him home, although well beaten, hadn’t won a race in 40 attempts between them. Where’s Jeff could only beat what was put in front of him, and it doesn’t preclude him from winning here, but he could find this task a bit more difficult against his own age group, some of who may have similar (or greater) potential. At a much bigger price Alabanza could be one of them. He has improved with each of his four starts and was beaten just a length over C/D on his handicap debut last month. That was a better race than this one and the form has some substance. The winner followed up under a six pound penalty and, although the second has disappointed since, the sixth failed by just a nose to win over shorter here yesterday. Alabanza was still showing signs of immaturity and he looks the type who will continue to steadily improve for a while yet.
8.30 – Stratford – Forever My Friend. 3 pts win. Available at 7/2.
Forever My Friend may be the old man of this field at 11 years old but his last two performances in the Hunter Chase sphere suggests that much of his ability still remains. He has proven a real credit to his connections having a near 25% strike rate over fences (11 from 45) in his career to date. He goes well here, three previous visits having returned form figures of 212 (Bumper/Handicap Chase/Hunter chase), and all but one of his eleven victories as a Chaser have come on good ground or faster. He produced a career best when winning over C/D from a four pound higher mark last Summer and, with the yard in top form, he looks primed for another big effort. The Trainer has a very profitable 44% strike rate here with his Chasers (8 from 18) and his record with son, Sean, on board his horses over fences in general has yielded a very impressive 22% strike rate (68 from 303) returning a l.s.p of £52 in recent seasons.