Solid Case for Urban Castle

In the Totepool Handicap (4.00) at Chelmsford City on Wednesday, Tacticus recorded two bloodless victories over 1 mile 4 furlongs at Southwell last month, but has never won on any surface other than Fibresand and takes a significant rise in class off a 13lb higher mark, so clearly faces a much tougher assignment this time. The horse he beat at Southwell last time, Sellingallthetime, was beaten further in a 0-75 handicap at the Nottinghamshire track on Tuesday, so the form may not be quite as good as it looked at the time.

Urban Castle has, similarly, done all her racing on the Tapeta surface at Wolverhampton, but she is one of the few in the field with form at this level and dropping back to 1 mile 5 furlongs could be in her favour. Collateral form involving Gabrial’s Star suggests she has the beating of Norab and she’s far from fully exposed after just five career starts. Indeed, she was only beaten 1½ lengths by John’s Reel, who’s now officially rated 97, over 2 miles 119 yards at Wolverhampton, so she could be well handicapped off a mark of 85.

At the time of writing, trainer James Tate is 2-2 at the new Essex venue and jockey Luke Morris is 6-21 (29%) on older horses for the yard on the all-weather, so the statistics are quite positive, too.

Selection: Chelmsford City 4.00 Urban Castle to win

Thursday Preview – Never Miss A Trick!

In the Win A Holiday To Sri Lanka Handicap Chase (3.40) – I didn’t think these race titles could get any worse but, evidently, they can – at Newbury on Thursday, Trickaway wasn’t beaten far in a similar race at Ludlow four weeks ago and may be able to resume winning ways. The winner that day, Gallery Exhibition, has since been put firmly in his place, off a 5lb higher mark, in a Class 2 novices’ event at Kelso, but it still represented a career-best effort by Philip Hobbs’ 7-year-old.

In fact, the form has already been franked by the third, Until Winning, who won a 0-120 contest at Wincanton last week with a minimum of fuss, so a 3lb rise in the weights appears far from prohibitive. The Stowaway gelding has made steady, if unspectacular, progress since sent over fences in October and, having won a point-to-point on good going earlier in his career, shouldn’t be inconvenienced by faster underfoot conditions.

Richard Johnson is the third most successful jockey at Newbury over the last five seasons and Philip Hobbs is the fifth most successful in the same period, so the statistics are in his favour and Trickaway makes no little appeal at 7/1 around in the early price lists.

Selection: Newbury 3.40 Trickaway to win

Tuesday Preview – Go to War with Tacticus

In the Coral App Download from the App Store Handicap (3.10) at Southwell on Tuesday, Tacticus made an impressive debut on Fibresand over course and distance last week and is hard to oppose under a 6lb penalty. The son of US Horse of the Year A.P. Indy was pushed clear from over a furlong out on that occasion, eventually winning unchallenged by 9 lengths. Another 6lb wouldn’t have stopped him from winning comfortably, so a repeat performance, against largely exposed rivals, should be good enough.

In keeping with his pedigree, the 4-year-old has taken a little time to fulfil his potential, but he looked more the finished article last time and it’ll be a surprise if he doesn’t rate significantly higher than his current mark of 80 in due course. He was entered in handicaps over 1 miles 5½ furlongs and beyond later in the week, so he could be the type to develop into a useful staying handicapper on turf later in the year. Meanwhile, Lady Cecil has only ever saddled two runners at Southwell and both of them have won, so the statistics are firmly in his favour, too.

Charles Smith’s 10-year-old General Tufto, who’s won 14 times at Southwell, but only twice elsewhere, is invariably outpaced in the early stages of his races these days, but could still be the one who gives Tacticus most to do.

Thursday Preview – Miss Estela Can Bring Down The House

Miss Estela has been a beaten favourite on both starts over hurdles so far, but her fifth, beaten 11 lengths, behind subsequent Grade 2 winner Bitofapuzzle in a Listed mares’ ‘bumper’ at Cheltenham in November is strong form and she can get off the mark over obstacles in the Download The App Now “Hands And Heels” Handicap (2.00) at Carlisle on Thursday.

The daughter of Tobougg appeared not quite to get home over 2 miles 5½ furlongs at Huntingdon in January, but her previous form over 2 miles 3 furlongs, on soft going, at Exeter suggests that an extra half a furlong should be no problem. The winner at Exeter, Queen Of The Stage, was only beaten 5¼ lengths in a Listed mares’ contest at Sandown three weeks ago and is now officially rated 127. Miss Estela only went down by three-quarters of a length on that occasion, conceding 1lb so, off a handicap mark of just 109, she looks remarkably well treated for her handicap debut.

Trainer Warren Greatrex describes her as ‘a really exciting mare’ and she has the assistance of the most successful conditional jockey in the field, Conor Walsh, who’s ridden winners on both sides of the Irish Sea, so she looks one to be on at any price you can get.

Selection: Carlisle 2.00 Miss Estela to win