Rory Delargy fancies the impressive Tom Cannon to enhance his excellent recent record at Wincanton today...
At a time when some of the most iconic jump jockeys of all time are heading into the twilight years of their professional careers (surely even Tony McCoy can't keep coming back from falls such as the one which hospitalised him at Cheltenham on Thursday, while Timmy Murphy was in the wars at Ayr yesterday), there will inevitably be a collective craning of the necks among racing congnscenti on the lookout for the next weighing-room colossus. Ask a clutch of professionals who they see as a future champion jockey, and you'll get a few different answers, but one name which will crop up frequently is that of Tom Cannon.
It's been a season to savour for Cannon despite doing most of his work at tracks like Fontwell, where he will ride a host of dubious characters for the likes of Chris Gordon and Nick Gifford, but he's shown he can do it on the bigger stage, too, his win aboard On Trend at Sandown in February a performance of real maturity, while he achieved a long-held ambition to ride a Cheltenham winner with a finely-judged effort on Starluck during the week. We'll surely be hearing much more of Mr Cannon in the years to come, and he can advertise that fact with a good day at Wincanton today.
The aforementioned Chris Gordon was keen to snap up the young jockey's services at an early stage, and he deserves great credit for his talent-spotting abilities, both with riders and horses. Many of Gordon's jumpers have come to him with a reputation of being moderate and/or ungenuine, and it's to the trainer's credit that he's achieved the results that he has with few marquee performers. The latest success story has been the Dansili gelding Superciliary, who was unable to get his head in front on the Flat for Ralph Beckett, but belatedly shed his maiden status when winning a handicap hurdle for his new yard at Plumpton last time. He should follow up in the 14:10 at Wincanton.
Superciliary's story is a simple enough one; he's found it hard to handle testing ground over hurdles, but was given a real chance by the handicapper before showing himself much better suited by good-to-soft ground at Plumpton, and that form looks solid. The runner-up may have disappointed on Friday, but third-placed Goochypoochyprader arrived there after a series of good runs, and has since gone on to regain the winning thread at Fontwell off the same mark. Bach on Tow was further back in sixth, but is another to have landed a handicap subsequently, giving the form a rock-solid appearance. The yard has exploded back to form in recent weeks having had a very quiet spell, with 4 of the handler's last 11 runners in handicap hurdles winning, and with the ground drying out all the time at Wincanton, everything looks in place for another big effort. A 7 lb rise for his win looks very lenient in retrospect, and Superciliary should be much shorter than his current odds of 4.03/1.
Gordon's standard bearer in recent seasons has been King Edmund (15:10 Wincanton), owned by long-time patron and some-time corinthian amateur rider Anthony Ward-Thomas, about whom his trainer replied when asked of his chances aboard Launde in the 2010 Aintree Fox Hunters': "He's an absolutely shocking rider, but a great friend....we just hope he's not in a body bag at the end of it."
Luckily, Ward-Thomas isn't on board King Edmund today, and the gelding has a cracking chance based on his latest run over C&D when splitting Rody and Jump City. The inveterate front-runner faces competition for the lead here, but that's not a scenario which fazes him, and he's got a bit more class than today's rivals. More importantly, he's a much better "lepper" than the majority of them, and can make the best of his way home as the likes of Laterly, Nobunaga and Swift Lord blunder their chances away at a track which takes few prisoners in the jumping department. Elenika is likely to throw down the sternest challenge, and appeals as the type to trade short in running, but he regularly finishes weakly after travelling well, and did so again when unplaced at Ascot recently, having hit a low of 1.618/13 in the run.
Handicap snip of the day is arguably Lower Hope Dandy in the following contest, but punters should be aware than Venetia Williams' unexposed son of Karinga Bay suffered from heat stroke after winning easily at Cheltenham in mid-week, needing treatment in the unsaddling enclosure before recovering. He really is a cracking prospect for the future, and his current mark underplays his ability by some way, but such a quick turnaround after an arduous experience is a definite concern, and he's not one to plunge on at skinny odds today. He's worth laying at current odds, with the option of trading back should concerns about his well-being cause him to drift pre-race.