DONCASTER stages tomorrow’s Yorkshire fare where the going is not surprisingly soft, heavy in places.
It goes without saying that proven form on that type of surface is a must.
Overturn – easily the highest profile entry – might not be in love with such a surface and a watching brief is advised there, if indeed he runs.
And with Doncaster’s final declarations not yet available the race to focus on is Newbury’s Handicap Hurdle at 3.15pm in which Bakbenscher appeals as a decent nap of the day.
The going at Newbury seems certain to be heavy but that won’t trouble Bakbenscher who loves seeing the mud fly.
That was the case in a two-mile four furlongs handicap hurdle at Haydock last weekend when Bakbenscher was solidly backed into 4-1 favourite and when, given the way that he travelled, victory was never in doubt. Tomorrow he races under a 6lbs penalty but carrying 6lbs extra would not have stopped this horse last weekend.
Also, as he has, in fact, gone up 8lbs in the weights, Bakbenscher is actually 2lbs well in here.
Alan King’s nine-year-old grey also has winning course form which is another plus as is tomorrow’s small field of nine runners which means less opportunity for bad luck in running.
And while in truth any of Bakbenscher’s opponents could be given some sort of chance, there is no denying that on last weekend’s success he is the one they all have to beat.
Thankfully, Bakbenscher should still be a reasonable price as top weight Any Given Day is a decent high-level performer and at the foot of the weights African Gold appeals as a young horse to follow.
He looked very promising when grinding out victory in a soft ground handicap over course and distance last time and was almost the selection here, but it is concerning that his trainer has said before that his charge would prefer better ground.
He may have won on soft last time but tomorrow’s ground could be a different ball game and given that, Bakbenscher has to be the percentage call.
An 8lbs rise for African Gold’s latest run also looks a bit harsh though it would be no surprise if, as a young horse, he found the necessary improvement.
Appealing as easily the biggest danger, he could warrant a saver if the prices allow.
It’s not a vintage card at Newbury tomorrow though the Grade One Challow Hurdle looks like being an intriguing contest for which Gevrey Chambertin is entered (2.45pm) – that one being a full brother to Grands Crus.
He has a bit to find on the figures with top-rated duo Clondaw Kaempfer and Easter Day but Gevrey revelled in heavy going on his debut and might make it three wins out of four.
Nicky Henderson’s French recruit Megalypos also looks a likely candidate for the juvenile hurdle at 1pm while back at Doncaster recent soft ground winner Triptico might be the one for the 2.55pm.
But on a tricky day we’ll finish with one on the all-weather at Wolverhampton in the shape of David O’Meara’s Royal Sea (3.40pm).
This lightly-raced sort hacked up in a handicap similarly bad to this last time and if he’s in the same form tomorrow then a 6lbs penalty won’t stop him going in again.
Best of luck and here’s hoping we end 2012 with a bang.