Wednesday 23rd May
Hargreave Hale Stockbrokers Hunters’ Chase
Baddam, twice a winner on the flat at Royal Ascot in 2006, makes his Hunter Chase debut at Worcester on Wednesday.
The ten-year-old has only manged one win from six starts in Points for trainer Martin Jones this term but has an exceptional record at Worcester. In four visits to the track, he has managed three wins (two over hurdles, one chase over course and distance) and a half-length second.
He needed cajoling along for the majority of his last race at Kingston Blount and there is a possibility that the novelty of jumping fences may have started to wear off ahead of his third go over regulation fences.
His form this season has tailed off but this is a very winnable Hunters’ Chase and the drying ground will play to his strengths.
Marblehead, a dual Hunter Chase winner, won here over hurdles (3m) off a mark of 115 in 2010. He only appeared three days ago at Upper Sapey but was a fortuitous winner, possibly held in second when My Lil Ledge fell two out to gift the grey the race.
His first Hunter Chase win (at Exeter in 2008) came off a six-day break so the quick turnaround shouldn’t pose a problem and he is another who prefers ground on the faster side of good.
His fourth in the Mallard Pawnbrokers at Leicester in March is strong enough to take this contest and he became disinterested last time out after switching tactics (likes to dictate). However, he hasn’t beaten much in Points this term and was put in his place by Findlay’s Find and Rosie’s Peacock in the Lady Dudley Cup at Chaddesley last month.
Rider Mark Wall has ridden Baddam and Marblehead regularly this season and feels there is not a great deal between the two of them: “I feel like I’m in the same situation as when I rode William Somers against Bradley at Cheltenham in 2010!” said Wall (see here, final three paragraphs).
Ground/trip against at Cheltenham last time and forgiven that display; fortunate winner at Stratford in March and
beaten at odds on in a point in between but boasts better form than most of these.
Kilshanna finished tailed off in his last run under rules in August (over C & D) off a basment mark of 64. Since then, he has enjoyed himself between the flags and completed a three-timer at Bonvilston last month (proven on fast ground on the second of those successes).
His wins have come under novice rider (and trainer) Chris West but Robbie Williams, who has ridden 15 winners under rules, takes over the reins here. Williams is the grandson of trainer Bernard Llewellyn, where West regularly rides out.
This rates as a significant leap in class for the seven-year-old, who has been winning lower class races to that of Baddam, Marblehead and Ice Cool Benny.
After claims, Ice Cool Benny carries 7lbs more than the aforementioned runners. His level of form seems to have regressed lately and was tailed off in fourth at Cheltenham (2m½f) three weeks ago. He would have wanted further than that but he was a poor beaten favourite at Maisemore the time before that, finding nil at the doing end.
His Novice Hunter Chase win at Leicester in March is respected, but this is harder.
Getyouracttogether, thrice successful in Points in 2009/10, is often found wanting nowadays while Liams Way and Sonara were held by weaker opponents at Whitfield last month.
Classic Rock has won over course and distance but that was over six years ago and he was outclassed by Marblehead at Paxford in April.
Johnny No Cash and Supreme Temptation are yet to win a Maiden between the flags and the three mares, Allforclover, Supreme Temptation and The Wife’s Sister, have all failed to get competitive recently.
Four runners stand out in this competitive affair between horses qualified with hunts adjacent to the West Midlands area. It often pays to side with an in-form jockey in a tight, tactical affair and Mark Wall (Marblehead) is enjoying his most prolific season yet. Sam Drinkwater will know he’s had a ride if he manages to boot Baddam home. Kilshanna is unproven against Open class horses so the percentage call is to oppose but there is every chance his upward curve could succeed the ability of the exposed sorts who appear to have left their best days behind them, especially with the booking of a smart amateur. Ice Cool Benny’s penalty makes him unattractive but if he puts his best foot forward he should be thereabouts.
* No Points Selection *