I thought I'd do a rare preview today as I had a few thoughts and some spare time looking into the 3.20 at Ayr, a Listed race over 2m.
I thought the ground looked a bit quicker on the chase track yesterday than the hurdles, probably just on the soft side of good.
The key form race appears to be the Red Rum at Aintree, where Double Ws had Yorkist and Romain De Senam behind, the latter pair being 5lb and 6lb better off today.
However as you'd expect for a race of this nature, it's probably not as straight forward as that.
Simply Ned; Probably one of the most forgotten horses in northern racing on account of him rarely running in races in which he has a chance. Form in handicaps reads F113112 over fences and a mark of 157 means he should still be very competitive. Critics will argue that his best form comes in the autumn, but with just four runs this has been a light campaign.
Vaniteux; Has largely looked one to avoid this season on account of attitude, his only victory coming when beating the regressive Vibrato Valtat. However, he's down in trip, and while undoubtedly talented, backers will be banking on cheekpieces working the oracle.
Double Ws; Long been held in high regard on this blog. Delivered the goods back in trip last time and if you backed him at Aintree a 5lb rise shouldn't put you off reinvesting. However, there are some higher quality horses in this line-up and he will need to be in at least as good form, if not better, to win again.
Apterix; A very likeable sort who has been well placed over fences this season, but was marmalised by Double Ws earlier in the campaign and although both have improved since he is only 3lb better off and his jumping will come under pressure here.
Mixboy; Not very big and his rating is based on one run at Musselburgh. Unsurprisingly outclassed at Cheltenham and still has to prove he can mix it in better grade.
Somchine; Appears to be improving and loves a fast run 2m, but this is a major step up in class off a career high mark.
Yorkist; Reasonably solid performer but doesn't find winning easy and although entitled to finish closer to Double Ws this time I wouldn't necessarily count on him finishing in front.
Romain De Senam; I haven't really taken to him this season and wasn't that keen physically at Doncaster. Shapes for all the world like he wants further now and I'd be more interested in him next season when they step him up.
De Faoithesdream; Won this last year from 3lb lower mark but that renewal wasn't as strong as this and although he's not easy to predict, he's hard to recommend.
Ifandbutwhynot; Revitalised by front running tactics but is another in-form horse that needs to bridge the gulf in class, and he's not getting any younger.
Tissue; 5 Vaniteux, 11/2 Double Ws, 13/2 Simply Ned, 7 Yorkist, 10 Ifanbutwhynot, Romain De Senam, 12 Apterix, 14 Mixboy, 16 Somchine, De Faoithesdream, 33 Indian Temple. 101%
Conclusion; There should be plenty of pace on here with Ifandbuthwynot, De Faoithesdream and Mixboy all likely to be pressing on. That may scupper each of their chances although of the trio Ifandbutwhynot could last out and go close. However, I prefer class in this race and the top three appeal most. If Simply Ned is in good form he simply has to go close in this grade; more importantly he looks hugely overpriced this morning and at 9 or 10/1 he must be included in the staking plan. Double Ws has been to Cheltenham and Aintree and this is his eighth outing of the season. If he remains at the top of his game he may yet improve again and 144 might not be his limit. However, there's not much leeway in the price and although I might have a bit on if /when he drifts, Vaniteux has to be the other main bet. His form over fences away from Cheltenham reads 12131 and he often shapes as though he's not far off top notch. He has to prove it but if he's ever going to do that it's here, with everything in his favour and some headgear to keep his mind on the job. Odds of 11/2 or bigger represent great value.