Timeform Radio Tip: Hell for leather

A wide draw may not be enough to stop Hellbender at Southwell

A couple of jumps meetings to pick from, but it's on the fibresand that Rory Delargy has found his best bet...

A draw in the widest stall of all is nothing like the disadvantage it's perceived to be over 6f at Southwell, and Hellbender has the early speed to sit handy, and crucially avoid kickback. If doing so, he looks much the likeliest winner.

Today's jumps meetings at Taunton and Ludlow look pretty trappy, and the best bet of the day may well come at Southwell, where Hellbender (16:50) looks to have outstanding claims at the weights in a 6f handicap big on numbers, but decidedly lacking in depth. An improved performer since switching to the Worksop yard of Shaun Harris and tried in a tongue tie, Hellbender has also been given a real chance by the handicapper before his new mark kicks in.

A winner over 7f here earlier in the month, he improved again to go down narrowly to the well-handicapped Light Burst over the same distance, showing an excellent attitude to rally after being passed by the winner. That was all the more meritorious, as he was 3 lb out of the weights, and was unable to get an easy time at the head of affairs. He's been reassessed for that run, but is able to race of his old mark here, so is effectively 3 lb lower than for that effort, and 5 lb "well in" based on his future mark. 

A draw in the widest stall of all (Upper Lambourn, due to race from 14 is a non runner) is nothing like the disadvantage it's perceived to be over 6f at Southwell, and Hellbender has the early speed to sit handy, and crucially avoid kickback. If doing so, he looks much the likeliest winner, and the presence of the mercurial Michael Murphy on his back is another positive, with the rider having a 3 from 7 record for the often-underestimated Harris yard.

The danger on form is Nant Saeson, but he is untried on the surface, which is always a concern. As a son of Elusive City, he ought to take to the surface, but that's still something of a gamble. One who may be overpriced on form is Steel City Boy, who will be ridden as usual by Ann Stokell, and won't attract the cash as a result, but he's been running well despite the rider's limitations of late, and could prove a threat if Stokell can negotiate a path from the inside berth.

One trainer who is enjoying a great time of things since Southwell was passed fit for racing again is Mick Appleby, of whom I've been a big fan for some time. His record with fibresand runners in 2013 is an amazing 7 wins from 7 runs, and he'll be looking to add a couple more courtesy of The Lock Master (16:20) and Our Ivor (17:20).

The latter appears to have outstanding claims, and is a bet if odds against in the last, but for my second selection, I'll row in with The Lock Master, who has yet to win off a mark in the 80's, but who faces a weaker field than he might in this grade. The selection was arguably fortunate to score over 1m here last time, with the overly-strong pace setting things up for him, but he'll be better served by the longer trip on this occasion, and appears to have only Honest Deal to beat. Ascendant is also quite strong in the market, but I'm reluctant to back a seven-year-old who has yet to taste competitive action on the Southwell track.

Recommendations:
Both at Southwell

Back Hellbender in the 16:50 @ 5.14/1
Back The Lock Master in the 16:20 @ 3.259/4

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