ASK THE WEATHERMAN (Jack Barber), 11-13, official rating 117, blinkers

As a pointer he had ten runs, all in Britain, and won nine, with only Native Pride getting the better of him. Crazily that would be legend has won just two points and was beaten out of sight in his only hunter chase. Meanwhile this horse also won a hunter chase and was beaten only six lengths in the 2017 Foxhunters, costing himself dearly with some awkwardness at the bigger pro obstacles. Since then he won an Exeter chase but began to stuggle over fences and the sole other success was a hurdle. Recent form has been less than inspiring and a sharp course counts against a fix.

GLENO (Gary Moore), 11-8, or 112

In the early months of 2019 he came suddenly good over hurdles, completing three victories along the way at up to 2m 5.5f, at courses as diverse as Sandown, Wincanton and Fontwell, on soft and good ground. He had won a bumper for another yard but only three had taken part so it was not an eminent moment. From that he gets a tick for going left-handed on an undulating course but he does do better often when it is the other way round and a level track. Chasing this winter started out really badly for him but last month he was a close second of four at Fontwell, possibly proving his stamina, and since has been a tolerable fourth of ten - tolerable because he has a certain small field bias.

NESTERENKO (Venetia Williams), 11-5, or 109

A flat winner who went on to triumph four times from nineteen runs over hurdles, the concept of chasing has more or less foxed him so far. None of the ten tries have been won and only two of his four second and third places were competitive. He is not the archetypical Venetia Williams trained mudlark, only having run once on heavy and bringing a very patchy record on soft - when he has run well on it, there are questions over the value of the form for reasons of the limitations of the opponents. A belated change of personal policies is required.

DYLANSEOGHAN (Zoe Davison), 11-3, or 107, cheekpieces

He rarely manages to stay healthy long enough for sustained bursts of activity but he has managed two wins and five second places - a couple of which were at Plumpton in 2019 and another on this course last week. That makes today a quick turnaround but two years ago he was beaten four lengths at Leicester after only eight days between runs, so it is something that is not certain to bring him to a halt. The ground could be an issue as he has no form on heavy, some places on soft but wins on good to soft and good. He was behind Clondaw Bisto on course and distance last month but that was a general off day on heavy going.

CLONDAW BISTO (Suzy Smith), 11-3, or 107

His last race, on New Year's Day, resulted in a win. So what? There are five meetings on the day and plenty of horses get a success on it. It was big news in this case as this particular character had no victories since winning his only Irish point in 2015 and then his bumper debut in February 2016. The nineteen defeats between were not short of decent tries in failure so whilst he is in this frame of mind, it is not impossible that just the right conditions (i.e. these!) will suffice to draw out a repeat showing. Then again, he looked beaten a couple of times at Fakenham and got back up because the oppo gave in rather feebly.

PRES (Chris Gordon), 11-2, or 106

There is not much substance to work on with this horse. He posted four quiet runs over hurdles but a sixth to Dashel Drasher at Newbury catches the eye and his defeat to Neff was not totally devoid of merit. After one handicap hurdle failure he took a look at fences and won around Lingfield, despite tending to go off to the right if not spot on. He followed that with a return to the scene of the crime and ended up a not too close second, with the same horse one place behind him - Ballyart. Next stop was a 0-125 at Wincanton, which went badly. He was behind Ask The Weatherman that day. He needs to be back to his best. And jump straight.

BILL AND BARN (Seamus Mullins), 11-0, or 104

After success in both of his pointing runs, he toddled up the road to Paul Nicholls' yard. The first two defeats saw him not beaten far but he had eighteen months off and lost the first two comeback runs as well - one against Santini and Chef Des Obeaux. He took half of a Chepstow staying novice hurdle in a dead heat but only managed a not hugely close second on chase debut before another hurdle loss doomed him to move on. The first three chase runs for Seamus Mullins were diabolically poor but last time, with the yard in better form, he was a close second of sixteen back at Chepstow. Sharp courses have been avoided except for a pointers' bumper at Aintree, which went quite well.

The Plan is to pick a race each day and give it a fairly detailed preview - hopefully picking up a worthwhile punt, but not scrabbling around for one. In reality, the "every jumps day" might prove impractical. For instance, you have been to Plumpton, had a couple of pints, get the train back, go to the pub. There might well be time to go through a race and publish, but no-one wants the unintelligible guff. So The Plan and The Harsh Reality may not always coincide.

The verdict is simple for each horse: The more Axes the better, but lay, or at least avoid, the Stalins. Keep a wary eye on the Mysterons
In order to handle changeable ground, a preference table has been added - the key is:
Y+ = Strong preference      Y = OK      Y? = Probably OK      ?Y = Maybe OK      ? = insufficient evidence
?x = Maybe a problem      x? = probably a problem      x = definite problem      blank = no evidence to judge
27th January, Plumpton 3.30, Hairy Dog Brewery Handicap Chase (class 4, 0-115)

Course: Left-handed, sharp, undulating

Distance: 3 miles 1.5 furlongs

Going: Soft, Good to Soft places

Stables in form: Zoe Davison

Stables out of form: none

Claiming Jockey Watch: Ben Jones (Ask The Weatherman) claims 5 lb, 39 wins. Page Fuller (Dylanseoghan) claims 3 lb. 70 wins. Zac Baker (Clondaw Bisto) claims 5 lb, 37 wins.
HorseGoing DistanceCourse Comments
HeavySoftGd-SoftGoodGd-Firm3m 1.5fLHSharpUndul
Ask The WeathermanYY?YYYx?Y
Nesterenko?Y?YY?YYY?proven to 3m
Clondaw BistoYYYx?YYYY
PresY???YYYproven to 2m 7.5f
Bill And BarnYx?Y?Y?YY?Yproven to 2m 7.5f
Points of Order
It was tempting to dock Gleno an axe for his timid effort at this track late last year but he seems to have got his head into chases since. So Gleno is worth a look at 4/1 or more. If the rain holds off and does not make the ground heavy, Dylanseoghan demands interest at 4/1 and up too.
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