David Massey has three tips for Saturday including the Philip Hobbs-trained Jerrysback in the big handicap chase at Ascot.
1pt e.w. Tactical Manoeuvre in 1.05 Taunton at 7/1 (1/5 1,2,3,4) (minimum price 11/2)
1pt win Gortroe Joe in 2.45 Taunton at 7/2 (take no lower)
1pt win Jerrysback in 3.00 Ascot at 12/1 (take no lower)
For details of advised bookmakers and each-way terms, visit our transparent tipping record
There’s sexier racing on for sure, but sometimes you have to turn away from sexy, as it only gets you in trouble (Delargy tells me) and concentrate on bread-and-butter stuff. Which is good, as I like nothing better than bread and butter, even on a Saturday. Galactic Power has been installed as the jolly old favourite by the firms on the early shows after a perfectly solid effort at Ludlow, where he finished a close second to the much-improved Mr Washington. There’s little doubt that’s the best recent form on show, but it was over 3m on good to soft ground and conditions will be very different; regardless, the yard have found winners hard to come by, with only two from 116 runs since July 2019. He can win, of course, but he makes little appeal at the price. Tactical Manoeuvre is surely the one to be with. Even a repeat of his latest C&D fifth might be good enough to take a hand, but there are reasons to think he can do better again today. He’s been running in Class 4 handicaps this winter but now drops to Class 5, and if you take his record in Class 5 handicaps on soft/heavy here in isolation it reads 111. That makes him look very appealing, and in a race with plenty of deadwood, he is very hard to see out of the places in a race he won 12 months ago.
When is a veteran not a veteran? When he’s jumping hurdles rather than fences, that’s when. So here we have a Seniors’ Handicap Hurdle (I now have visions of Abe Simpson racing other members of the Springfield Retirement Castle over obstacles to the dinner table) for horses aged 8 and above. The form is there on the table for all to see, and in the case of a few, it’s not that pretty. There are some coming back over hurdles from failed chase campaigns, some others that will probably want better ground, and not many come into this on what you’d call an upward trajectory. Amour De Nuit hasn’t been out of the frame in four runs at Taunton, but whether he wants genuinely soft/heavy ground is a question. Thibault isn’t doing a lot wrong, but preference is for Gortroe Joe, who has been revived for a switch to Fergal O’Brien this season. Winner of two of his last three, I was at Rasen for his latest win where he looked a picture of health in the paddock and simply ran the competition into the ground with an attacking front-running display. He’s gone up another 8lb for that, but that’s fair, and given he’s proven under conditions and his last four wins have all come on right-handed tracks, he has plenty going for him. We wondered whether he needed a rail to run against, but he has won at Ludlow, where the hurdles track is outside the chase track, so that’s less of an issue than we thought. There's little pace on here, so expect another dose of those front-running tactics that served him so well last time. We wouldn’t want to take less than the current 7-2 on offer, despite the solid case we have made, as he does have a history of atrial fibrillation, but that alone isn’t enough to put us off.
After the usual morning conflab, most of which was totally unrepeatable on this before-the-watershed column (I mean, I could publish it and we’d have the funniest column going, if only for one day before we were taken off air) Rory and I agree on two things - one, the majority of the Saturday handicaps are wide open and not punting material but two, Jerrysback might be the exception to the rule in this 2m5f handicap chase. He might be best remembered for his third in the 2019 National Hunt Chase at the Festival, but he was beaten ten minutes there and actually his efforts at around 2m4f are among his best. They include a second to Vinndication here in the 2018 Reynoldstown, and he’s rated 2lb lower than that today, so is well enough handicapped if he is fit on this, his first run for over a year. He has no great record fresh, but on those comeback runs, he’s often been in races that were under unsuitable conditions, whereas that’s not the case here. The yard had a couple of welcome winners at Newbury in the week and appear to be coming out of the doldrums, which only adds confidence.
Published at 1740 GMT on 22/01/21
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