As I write this on Friday afternoon, the ground at Ayr is reportedly good to soft, so we should – famous last words – be guaranteed a run up there on Saturday.
The one that stood out to me was a novice chaser who’s taken to make it 2-2 over fences.
Olly Murphy’s Chasing Fire is a horse I have high hopes for this season.
The six-year-old, who was bought for £170,000 after winning an Irish PTP in October 2021, was successful in his sole bumper at Wetherby in March last year before embarking on a novice hurdling campaign that saw him rack up a hat-trick of facile wins prior to an ambitious bid in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
Murphy said he “didn’t run his race” that day – nor on his subsequent visit to HQ over a longer trip – as he was “flat as a pancake”, and his mark was subsequently lowered from 136 to 132.
He then made his debut over fences in a trappy, three-runner handicap at Uttoxeter last month. It was marred by the unfortunate passing of Nigel Twiston-Davies’ 154-rated hurdler I Like To Move It, but I liked what I saw from Chasing Fire, who jumped well in the main and showed a good attitude to hold off his rivals off a pace slower than the 0-120 handicap chase later on the card.
You can crab the form due to the subsequent effort of Pembroke, who was well-beaten at Aintree last weekend, but clearly that wasn’t his running so I’d happily put a line through that.
The selection should have come on for that Uttoxeter run, and should be seen to much better effect against more rivals – seven, to be precise – with more pace on offer… hopefully.
Marble Sands was arguably the best of these over hurdles, but he’s returning from a 204-day break, having his first run – over two miles for the first time – for a new yard and has an inexperienced jockey in the plate, so he’s hard to advise.
Rexem recently opened his account over fences at the fourth attempt, but it was a bang-average race and he’s also dropping in trip. Traprain Law is probably the main danger for a team whose runners usually improve markedly for chasing, but he’ll have to be spot on to beat the race-fit Chasing Fire.
The latter has always been held in extremely high-regard by those at Warren Chase Stables, and if he’s going to live up to that reputation – and fulfil his trainer’s plan of taking in the Henry VIII Novices’ Chase at Sandown in December – he ought to be winning this off a mark of 136.
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