Rhys Williams has analysed Thursday's racing and has three selections at Uttoxeter.
"He's been dropped 2lb for that and now has the significant benefit of racing on much quicker ground. His form in France and his action suggest that he definitely wants this ground so there could be plenty of improvement to come for the switch to it."
Front runner to hold off rivals
It's the time of the national hunt season when concerns over horses being over the top start to come into play, often involving horses that have run at Cheltenham. In the opening novices' hurdle at Uttoxeter, this worry applies to all three that appear to have a realistic chance of winning.
Riggs heads the market after finishing second in the EBF Final at Sandown last time. He had a very hard race that day on ground softer than the official description and was barely galloping at the line. He's also hung right before and I think he's best in a big field with horses coming back to him rather than the likely scenario in a smaller field contest where he has to go chasing them to beat them. He may have too much speed for his rivals if this ends up being slowly run but I think he's worth taking on.
Ask A Honey Bee and Beatthebullet both ran in the Albert Bartlett last time. While Ask A Honey Bee completed and Beatthebullet pulled up, I thought Beatthebullet ran the more encouraging race with today's race in mind. He was still in touch coming down the hill, albeit under pressure, while Ask A Honey Bee had been detached from the field for some time at that point. After jumping 2 out, Beatthebullet dropped away and was pulled up while Ask A Honey Bee kept plodding on to be beaten 56 lengths.
That's now two poor runs in a row from Ask A Honey Bee and, at the moment, it's difficult to know if he can reproduce the level of form he was showing earlier in the season.
Although Beatthebullet might not be able to match his best form, I think he's more likely to run his race today. Prior to running at Cheltenham, he led for a long way in a Grade 2 at Haydock before nearly being brought to a standstill when Young Buck came down in front of him at 3 out and his chance was gone after that.
He showed a very willing attitude under pressure when winning earlier in the season at Hereford and he may have a tactical advantage today as the likely lone front runner in this small field.
Although he may not quite have their class, I think there's too much in the market between him and the front pair in the market and any 5/1 or bigger appeals.
Quicker ground a big positive
Bizerta showed a good level of ability early in his career on the flat when trained by Andre Fabre. However, he clearly had problems and after finishing second at Chantilly on this day two years ago on his second start, he was only seen once more before being sold for £10,000 in September last year.
Since joining Sam Allwood, all four of his runs over hurdles have been on soft or heavy ground. He showed a little promise over this C&D two starts ago and ran quite well on handicap debut at Warwick last time. He was a bit keen early and travelled well for a long way before gradually dropping away from the home bend.
He's been dropped 2lb for that and now has the significant benefit of racing on much quicker ground. His form in France and his action suggest that he definitely wants this ground so there could be plenty of improvement to come for the switch to it. A tongue tie also goes on, which may partly explain his weak finishing efforts at times in the past.
In a weak race, he's one of very few that look open to much improvement and is a bet at 7/2 or bigger.
Left-handed track to suit
Following a fairly good spell pointing over the past few seasons, Stay Out Of Court has switched back to running under rules this season and has had three starts for Adrian Wintle.
All three of those runs have come on right-handed tracks which is very surprising given the obvious evidence that he wants to go left-handed. When running at Hereford on his first start for Wintle, he frequently jumped out to the left and his jockey reported that he hung left-handed.
At Exeter, he jumped a bit straighter but there were still plenty of occasions when he went out to the left. He ran well that day, leading for a long way and still being in contention until after 2 out. He went back to Hereford last time and once again showed a tendency to jump to the left and ran fairly well in finishing fifth.
Those three runs on right-handed tracks have resulted in Stay Out Of Court dropping from 113 to 100. He's now been found a weak race on a left-handed track and the booking of Zac Baker is a positive in amateur races.
There is a slight worry that there are quite a few front runners in this race but Stay Out Of Court has shown that he can run well when tracking the leaders so if a charge for the lead early on does ensue, hopefully Baker will avoid getting him in an unnecessary battle.
Stay Out Of Court has also shown the occasional signs of temperament in the past but he could be a class above this field on the return to a left-handed track and any 3/1 or bigger appeals.
RHYS' PROFIT/LOSS 2021