14:05 Market Rasen
This is a pretty good Class 2 handicap hurdle over two miles and four furlongs which has attracted a nice field and it has a really open feel to it.
Clondaw Banker for Nicky Henderson won last time out over almost this distance at Sandown in the soft and has to go on the short list. As that was a Conditional's race he is unpenalised here and runs off the same weight. This is obviously tougher but coming in off bottom weight he has a definite chance.
Work In Progress for Dan Skelton was second in a really good race at Aintree over this distance in October when carrying a six pound penalty for victory at Kempton prior to that. His only run on truly soft ground culminated in a fall so this surface is a bit of an unknown. However, if he takes to it then it wouldn't be a surprise to see him make the frame.
Anniston has raced four times over hurdles this year, winning two and finishing second in the other two whilst steadily moving up in grade. He won a maiden race on the flat in heavy conditions and was second last time out in the soft at Wetherby. He is out of Authorised and has never run over a distance further than two miles, therefore there has to be doubts over his stamina.
Richard Johnson rides Handlwork who is having his first race over hurdles since May, having been involved in three long distance races on the flat where he performed well. In his previous hurdles race he finished midfield in the Pertemps at Haydock which is a step up in class from what he will face today. Admittedly he is high enough in the weights but he finished fourth in the Scottish Champion hurdle from just four pounds lower and as he is on five, there is sure to be plenty of progress to come. His two recent runs on the flat will ensure he is in good shape for this and I think the market is underestimating his chances at best price 9/1.
Market Rasen 14:05 - Handlwork - 1 point each way @ 8/1 (Racebets)