Racing tip of the day
Ian Ogg believes that it's time to spin the wheel and back Big Casino at Ludlow this afternoon.
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Big Casino - 4.00 Ludlow
Nigel Twiston-Davies will be busy talking to the media about his Cheltenham Festival hopes and dreams this morning but the day-to-day job goes on for the Naunton handler and he sends a strong team to Ludlow today.
They include Cheltenham's Champion Bumper sixth Pure Science who hasn't gone on as expected as well as Ludlow specialist Cootehill but the best of them all could be the lightly raced eight-year-old Big Casino.
The Court Cave gelding started his career for Keiran Burke for whom he won a bumper on debut before only going down narrowly to the smart Shutthefrontdoor on his hurdling bow.
He made a winning start for his new trainer in October when comfortably taking a handicap from a mark of 109 but he disappointed in a competitive Cheltenham contest when well supported despite a 16lb rise in the weights.
The yard didn't really fire at that meeting and he proved the run to be all wrong when a fair third at Kempton on Boxing Day. Admittedly, that form hasn't worked out all that well but it still reads well enough in the context of today's race.
There has been some early support for Spencer Lea and Garrahalish who faces a far more realistic task than when lining up against some smart sorts at Ascot, a race in which he wasn't entirely disgraced, but that is no bad thing as it has meant that the price of Big Casino has drifted to a perfectly decent 100/30 in places.
He won his bumper at this track on good ground while his Carlisle win came on soft so there are no concerns with either underfoot conditions or the course.
The manner of his win in the north west suggested that he was capable of progressing a good deal further during the course of the season and, although his two subsequent runs haven't borne that out, he is well worth another chance to confirm that impression in an eminently winnable contest.