FARRINGDON checks out this weekend's racing action
â¢ Cheltenham (C4)
2.10: Mr Ed remains a horse on the up, following a successful season on the flat and an improved display in a very competitive staying hurdle at Chepstow under a welter burden.
He had been put up a further one pound for that run, but whether a 3lbs turnaround for a three-and-a-quarter length beating by Mistanoora is enough to reverse the placings is doubtful.
However, both may have to give best to Paperprophet and The Dark Lord.
The former would almost certainly have won his last outing but for making a mistake two out at Ayr and remains progressive, but the selection is fancied to have his number.
Over a half a mile shorter trip here three weeks ago, the seven-year-old readily put to sleep a fair field, which included Red Ruffles, Rackalakey and Tango Royal and his style of racing suggests that he will be hard to nail by the handicapper.
Therealbandit is using this as a warm-up for the Hennessy and is 18lbs higher than when winning this event last year. However, such was his progression thereafter he cannot be totally discounted.
2.45: I've already picked out Monkerhostin as my ante-post selection and I see no reason to change my mind at this late stage.
It is common knowledge that he is well weighted on his hurdles form, but that doesn't guarantee he will reach the same level over fences.
However, he made only one error at Stratford first time up and has plenty enough room for improvement to land this significant race off a potentially lenient mark.
Ollie Magern's best form has been over further, so I suspectthat , along with Farmer Jack and Better Days, he will try and take this race by the scruff of the neck from the start.
That will ensure the perfect fast pace for the likes of the selection and other hold-up horses, Tikram, Celestial Gold and It Takes Time, but it may also stretch the stamina of the ante-post gamble and Thisthatandtother.
Fondmort may be racing off an all-time high mark, but loves the course and, on Thursday night, I received a very strong word for him.
He is a frame horse at the very least and is now the one I fear most.
3.20: If Merchants Friend could be guaranteed a clear round, I would make him the value selection for this lung-bursting event.
He came home like a train at Kempton, but a first fence error cost him dear that day.
It is worth remembering that he jumped this track with great aplomb when just touched off by Maximize in the Kim Muir, but the percentage call must be with Lord Noelie.
The former Sun Alliance winner looks well treated these days off a mark of 142 (rated as high as 165 in his prime) and there was plenty to like about his second behind Ballyvaddy at Chepstow.
Of the other runners, The Villager hails from a yard having a cracking run at the moment and his seasonal debut should have brought him on sufficiently to be able to do himself justice here.
3.55: As you would expect for a race of this nature, plenty of improvers are set to line up.
This is not the type of race that interests me, particularly this early in the season, but I must state that I was very impressed with Fire Dragon first time up at Stratford.
He may able to take care of the top weight Yankeedoodledandy and Scarlet from the Martin Pipe yard.
â¢ Wetherby (C4)
3.05: It's hardly a dark horse selection, but Jungle Jinks should prove very hard to beat here after his fluent win at Haydock first time up, especially if the A1 track gets more rain.
He remains on a lower mark than when at the top of his form as a novice and he needs to dispatch this lot if he is going to be able to contest the better long distance events this year.
The alternative would have to be Bee and Bee, a lovely individual who had a pipe-opener over hurdles, but his stable have yet to really click this term.
SATURDAY â¢ Monkerhostin Cheltenham 2:45 (nap)
â¢ Jungle Jinks Wetherby 3:05
SUNDAY â¢ Gunner Welburn Haydock 2:55 (nap)
â¢ Mambo Cheltenham 2:05