Carlisle hosts a cracking eight-race Jumps card – starting at 13:40 and concluding shortly after 17:35 – on Wednesday afternoon.
Much attention will be on the 15:55, which sees some exciting horses make their debuts over fences – including one I’m hoping will develop into a Cheltenham Festival contender.
15:20 – Holly e/w @ 15/2
Just over half-an-hour before the aforementioned Cheltenham hopeful, I’m looking forward to seeing the return of Holly for Jonjo O’Neill.
The six-year-old has only run four times since moving to Jackdaws Castle two years ago, but she’s shown plenty of ability in that time.
I remember being very impressed watching her bolt up by 7L in an 18-runner maiden hurdle at Wincanton in December 2021, before a more than respectable run at Chepstow this time last year when trying to give weight to the now 135-rated Sonigino for Paul Nicholls on her seasonal reappearance.
No good afterwards, over further at Exeter, but she’s dropped three pounds for those last two outings and consequently competes here off 122, which I think underestimates her slightly.
Providing she’s fit and ready to go after a 340-day break, she must have every chance of at least finishing in a place (four on offer as a Super Extra Place).
15:55 – Giovinco @ 4/5
I’m a big fan of Lucinda Russell’s Giovinco – so much so that I’ve already suggested him antepost for the 2024 Cheltenham Festival – who I’m expecting to land this novices’ chase over 2m4f.
The six-year-old son of Walk In The Park, who was bought for £85,000 shortly after winning an Irish PTP in November last year, was late to the party last season, making his debut over flights in the first half of March.
He won that and a subsequent race at Carlisle by a combined 20L, before a mightily-impressive performance in a Listed event at Perth when stepped up to three miles. That was a decent race and he won it by a wide-margin on the bridle, marking himself as a horse with immense potential.
This looks a nice starting point for the selection, who has over 30lbs on the bottom three in the market – while Hometown Boy and Alaphilippe are both returning from lengthy breaks.
That makes Good Risk At All the main danger, but he’s pretty exposed these days and frankly I’d be very disappointed if Giovinco isn’t a fair bit better than him, even at this early stage of his career.