David Cleary picks out a couple of bets from Wincanton today.
Wincanton has somehow survived to provide jumping fans with some action this afternoon after yesterday's blank day, though they need to make the most of it, with Monday's NH cards already having bitten the dust. Centrepiece of the card is the conditional jockeys handicap hurdle at 15.55. Eight are due to line up, with Sidney Melbourne the likely market leader. He's something of a default favourite, a handicap debutant trained by Paul Nicholls, but he looks to have enough weight on what he's achieved in novice events and as he's on similarly testing ground to the last twice, he wouldn't be sure to make the required improvement to get off the mark. He looks worth taking on, with Bygones Sovereign and Decimus heading the list of options.
Bygones Sovereign, the pick of two runners in the line-up trained by David Pipe, has been given a chance by the handicapper if he can come back to his best form of last season. He didn't make much impact in the latter stages of a better race at Newbury last time but that was over three miles - today's shorter trip will surely show him to better advantage - and he's off a mark 5 lb lower this afternoon. Decimus has been beaten on both starts off today's mark but emerged with plenty of credit on both occasions. He was held when he fell at the last over course and distance in October, though would have finished close behind Ivor's King, who followed up. Last time out, Decimus found Jupiter Rex too good, but he was conceding 17 lb to a horse completing a five-timer. A repeat of that effort should see Decimus go close.
In the staying handicap chase at 15.25, it may be worth taking a chance with Ratify. He's clearly not been easy to train of late but the handicapper has been generous to him and he faces optimum conditions this afternoon, having won his only previous start over fences on heavy ground off the same mark as he races off in this. Musical Wedge is in good form but looks to have found his mark and there are slight concerns about his jumping over stiffer fences than of late. Sandy's Double could be well handicapped but there's no depth to the form of his chasing debut, which isn't easy to assess anyway, and both his jumping and a switch back right handed are concerns.
All at Wincanton
Back Bygones Sovereign @ 5.0 and Decimus @ 7.6 in the 15.55
Back Ratify @ 5.2 in the 15.25