Published 5th March
Nicky Henderson’s mare ran a blinder in this 12 months ago, returning from a year’s absence to finish third to race-fit, more experienced geldings Ch’tibello and We Have A Dream (the latter her stablemate).
She was probably still feeling the effects of that massive effort when disappointing at Fairyhouse the following month, but shaped encouragingly enough on her reappearance to finish seventh to Harambe in the Greatwood back over this course and distance.
Her owner/trainer’s second string that day (JP McManus had a better fancied runner from the yard in fifth-placed Dame De Compagnie, the choice of Barry Geraghty), she then got bogged down in heavy ground at Ascot in another hot handicap (won by Not So Sleepy).
On the plus side her handicap mark has dropped 6lb this season, so she’s only 2lb higher than a year ago, and she’s been freshened up since Christmas presumably with this repeat bid in mind on ground that ought to be more in her favour.
LEONCAVALLO might prove interesting at an even bigger price, having run too free (also lost a hind shoe) when finishing mid-division in last year’s renewal.
The eight-year-old is set to run off a pound lower mark here on what would be his debut for David Pipe after leaving Dr Richard Newland’s yard following his fourth to Not So Sleepy at Ascot in November.
Therein lies the angle for possible improvement (and it’s no disrespect to his former trainer) because the gelding has had four previous stable changes, his record on first run back reading 1121 plus he’s got meaningful big-handicap form having finished third in the 2018 Galway Hurdle.
Recommended Bet (scale 1-5 points):
Randox Health County Handicap Hurdle, Friday 13th March
1pt win COUNTISTER (25-1 bet365, Betfred, Coral, Skybet - all non-runner no bet bookmakers)
1pt win LEONCAVALLO (40-1 bet365, 33-1 general with other non-runner no bet bookmakers)
Gary provides regular ante-post updates on Twitter. His username is @horsetraderinfo