By Chris Dixon
Southwell has been the subject of more column inches than for some time over the past week after Dave Yates broke the story about a potential change of surface at the Nottinghamshire track.
There has been plenty of support voiced for keeping the current surface in place and I’ll add mine to the growing list.
Racing on the fibresand offers something different for connections of horses and punters alike, and as we are regularly told, one of the great things about British racing is the variety it offers.
As a punter I love the place, so hopefully I can find a winner or two there this afternoon.
First up is Good Impression in the opening three-year-old handicap at 1.20. Ali Stronge’s charge showed improved form here on handicap debut last time when finishing second to the quietly fancied Shades Of Mist over 6f.
Unable to hold his pitch early, he faced the kickback without any worries and kept on well in the manner of a horse who can improve over today’s longer trip of 7f.
A couple of today’s rivals were behind him that day, while the fifth placed horse has come out to win since so he already has an obvious form chance and I expect progress from him in this smaller field over an extra furlong in what looks a fairly uncompetitive race.
The sprint handicap over 5f at 2.25 features a few in-form horses but I think Razin’ Hell is the one to side with for John Balding.
Narrowly denied last time by Midnight Malibu, a horse who has improved for the switch to this surface recently, he reversed the form of his previous run with Tilly Trotter that day and can hopefully confirm those placings again.
I thought the pace he set when picked off by Tilly Trotter here a couple of runs back was a shade too strong and if judging the pace marginally more in his favour today will take plenty of pegging back.
His draw closest to the stands rail in stall 7 is not ideal but Andrew Mullen will be well aware of that and I’m sure he’ll quickly edge left to ensure his mount runs his race more towards the centre of the track.
It’s pretty rare for trainer Tom George to send runners to Kelso so it could be worth taking note of his three runners there this afternoon.
I suspect Clondaw Castle will be very hard to beat in the Novices’ Hurdle at 1.10 but that’s reflected in the market and the one I like most from a punting point of view today is Dexcite in the handicap hurdle at 1.40.
An encouraging fourth at Doncaster following a lengthy absence last time, Dexcite shaped as if the old ability is still there, moving up well enough to challenge when blundering the second last and ruining his chance.
That form looks solid, with the winner following up next time, and with Dexcite appealing as a well handicapped horse on old form (even though he runs from 1lb out the weights) he looks the one to beat with James Bowen’s gift of a 5lbs claim enhancing his chance.
The staying handicap hurdle over 3m2f at 2.45 looks a very weak event and with holes easy enough to find in the chance of every runner in the race.
That includes my selection Letemgo, who needs to bounce back from a heavy enough defeat at Ayr just 12 days ago, but that run was possibly a bit better than the bare result suggests.
Still in touch turning for home, he dropped away in the straight but that was in a better race, taking on horses with much more upside than the ones he faces here and I suspect many of today’s opponents wouldn’t have lasted as long as he did.
His previous third at Haydock was also in a more competitive heat than this while and gives him a solid enough chance, as does his fifth and third placed finishes at Hexham and Ayr prior to that.
I also like the angle of a hood being removed from a horse when it’s been on for a while and the claim of useful amateur rider Bruce Lynn is also a positive. All things considered, I’m happy to take a chance with him at the 10-1 on offer this morning.
Chris Dixon's Sunday selections: