Wait For Me can kick-start his season with victory in the Betfair Hurdle at Newbury.
The Philip Hobbs-trained seven-year-old has underperformed so far this term, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest he is more than capable of making his presence felt in one of the season’s most fiercely competitive handicaps off his current mark. Wait For Me looked a youngster of immense promise when finishing third in the 2015 Champion Bumper behind Moon Racer. He failed to reach those heights during his novice campaign over hurdles, but still won twice – including over this course and distance – and was not beaten far into fourth place in the County Hurdle at Cheltenham.
The French-bred gelding was disappointing in Haydock’s Swinton Hurdle in May and while he has not yet rediscovered his best form since returning from a summer break, his efforts at Kempton and Cheltenham were not devoid of promise.
A rating of 138 undoubtedly underestimates his talent and with the track and soft ground set to play to his strengths, a bold bid is anticipated, with the form of the stable picking up during the last couple of weeks.
It could be a big day for Wait For Me’s rider Richard Johnson. The champion jockey also gets the leg up on Native River, who should cement his Cheltenham Gold Cup claims by landing the Betfair Denman Chase for Colin Tizzard.
While a Grade One success at Aintree last spring suggested the future was bright, the seven-year-old has improved more than even his connections must have hoped this season.
A long-term plan came to fruition when he landed the Hennessy Gold Cup here back in November, but it was his tremendous weight-carrying display in the Welsh Grand National that really confirmed him as a leading contender for next month’s blue riband at Prestbury Park.
TURF TALK TIPS
LINGFIELD: 1.25 Simply Me, 2.00 Dazacam, 2.35 Berryessa, 3.10 My Target, 3.45 Royalistic, 4.20 Born To Finish, 4.50 Mica Mika.
NEWBURY: 1.15 Dead Right, 1.50 Tobefair, 2.25 Native River (next best), 3.00 Altior, 3.35 WAIT FOR ME (NAP), 4.10 Brandon Hill, 4.45 Kayf Mariner.
UTTOXETER: 1.10 Wazowski, 1.45 Rio Bravo, 2.20 Winged Crusader, 2.55 Imperial Bay, 3.30 Champagne To Go, 4.00 Master Jake, 4.35 Big Meadow.
WARWICK: 1.30 Over To Sam, 2.05 Kelka, 2.40 Overtown Express, 3.15 Activial, 3.50 Twist On Ginge, 4.25 Belami Des Pictons, 4.55 Celestial Magic.
WOLVERHAMPTON: 5.45 Gabrial The Thug, 6.15 Hamish McGonagain, 6.45 Joyful Dream, 7.15 Paris Bound, 7.45 Fast Play, 8.15 Suitsus, 8.45 Royal Blessing.