Alan's sequence of winners ended yesterday as his two selections finished second and third, today he is looking to get back on the winning trail by trying to sort out two tricky puzzles at Sedgefield...
"he settled and traveled well throughout the race before being brought with a winning run last time out and he looks the sort to improve to win again"
Back The New Pharaoh @ 7/2 in the 13:10 Sedgefield
The opening race of the card is an interesting eight runner handicap hurdle with just 19lbs covering the entire field on official ratings and the biggest priced runner in the early markets just a 16/1 chance. Despite the competitiveness it is Jonjo O'Neill's charge The New Pharaoh that looks the likely winner to me. The seven-year-old has only had two previous national hunt starts after leaving Chris Wall's Newmarket yard with three wins on the flat. His first start over hurdles was at Uttoxeter over two and half miles and he ran a more than respectable third but that trip certainly looked to be the maximum for him.
He was subsequently dropped back to two miles for his second and latest run at Leicester where he settled and traveled well throughout the race before being brought with a winning run and he looks the sort to improve to win again from a rating of 121 for his handicap debut over his preferred two miles again.
There are plenty in the field that can cause him trouble and you could probably make a case for most of the runners, Tonto's Spirit won the race last year but is 7lbs higher this time around, market leader Black Art won here last time out over course and distance when staying on strongly late and only gets a 2lb lift for that success but The New Pharaoh won with what appeared plenty in hand at Leicester and could be very well handicapped here with more improvement likely, so he gets the nod today.
The 15:10 offers another intriguing puzzle to try and sort out, with four of the market leaders either being favoured or at some stage were market favourite across the range of bookmakers sites last night. Tornado In Milan was initially looking like being the market principle when the market opened and has some form which suggests he could get involved but has alarming drifted to the fourth best on the exchange in the early betting and while his price could easily recover that's not a positive for me. Both Never Up and Discoveria will have big chances if they can back up promising recent efforts but neither are that consistent. The one that stands out to me at the prices is local trainer Brian Ellison's Viens Chercher.
He is the best on official ratings and has already won from his only previous start at this track and his mark has fallen into the 120's (128 today) for the first time in his last 12 starts. This is also a drop in grade for him and providing the Ellison team have him right after a 153 day break this looks like a very good opportunity for the seven-year-old to get his head in front.