Rhys Williams has analysed Thursday's racing and has two selections at Chepstow and Ludlow...
"He wants good ground, which he should nearly get today, so I think there's the potential for him to improve plenty from this and the likely strong pace can allow Will Kennedy to use similar tactics to good effect."
Ideal test for proven stayer
Goodnight Charlie came back to life at Warwick last time and is 3lb well-in. It's difficult to be sure if she will reproduce that effort today as she was drastically on the decline prior to that but she's likely to go out in front and make the others catch her.
The horse who is likely to race closest to her, at least through the early stages, is Dancing Shadow and he may be advantageously positioned as a result. Unlike many in this field, he's a proven stayer so Ben Godfrey can make plenty of use of him while avoiding getting into a battle too soon with Goodnight Charlie.
He ran very well at this track on his first run of the season over a shorter trip when only caught in the last stride. Since then he's twice run well in defeat at Exeter. On the first of those occasions over 3m6½f, he raced handily the whole way and after being headed going to 2 out, he battled back and was only beaten a length in third.
On his most recent start back down over 3m, he led for much of the race until being headed at 4 out. He looked likely to drop away under pressure but ran on again late on to finish sixth.
I think that trip is probably too sharp for him these days unless given a very aggressive ride and a return to 3m6½f today will suit. He's also versatile with regards to the ground so the impact of the forecast rain at Chepstow this morning won't be an issue for him.
Dancing Shadow has been given a 74-day break since his latest run, which hopefully will have freshened him up for this, and he appeals at 3/1 or bigger.
Better ground to suit
The hunter chase at Ludlow presents an intriguing puzzle for punters with some formerly classy horses lining up. 2017 Tolworth Hurdle runner up Capitaine is second favourite behind former stablemate Copain de Classe while Jenkins won a Grade 3 handicap hurdle and went off co-favourite for the 2018 Betfair Hurdle.
All of those horses have questions to answer, though. Copain de Classe is returning from a 754-day absence and does have to prove he wants this trip, although the usually slightly steadier pace of hunter chases will help on front. Capitaine was well held in a Men's Open at Larkhill and ran ok in a stronger hunter chase at Wincanton last time over this trip but was beaten 36 lengths. Jenkins travelled well for a long way at Doncaster on his most recent start before hitting the first in the straight and fading quickly.
He might be tempting for punters as a back to lay proposition while Garde Ville could well go much bigger in running. I think he wants more of a stamina test than this so could become outpaced at some stage, although the likely strong pace with Bletchley Castle in the field will help.
Guttural is the second biggest price in the field and I think the market has got that wrong having shaped quite promisingly on his first start for his new yard at Leicester. Held up early on, he gradually crept into the race, assisted by some good jumping, and moved into a close sixth leaving the back straight. Will Kennedy didn't ask for any effort early in the home straight and the leaders got away from him but he started to make some headway under pressure going to 3 out. He reached for that fence and was put under stronger pressure after and responded for that to move into fourth at 2 out. From that point, he was mainly just ridden hands and heels to coax him home on the very testing ground and he finished fifth, beaten 26 lengths.
That was a good hunter chase with Tango de Juilley having run well in defeat behind Cat Tiger prior to this, Peacocks Secret had good form in Irish points prior to joining Dale Peters and Killiney Court enjoyed the step back in trip.
This was an encouraging run from Guttural on completely the wrong ground for him. He wants good ground, which he should nearly get today, so I think there's the potential for him to improve plenty from this and the likely strong pace can allow Will Kennedy to use similar tactics to good effect.
He does lack of the back-class of some of his rivals and it was a bit worrying that he looked to be hanging right in the home straight at Leicester, but I think the market has underestimated his chance. He certainly shouldn't be a bigger price than a horse whose last two starts have resulted in being pulled up twice in Restricteds and any 14/1 or bigger appeals.
RHYS' PROFIT/LOSS 2021