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
25th April, Perth 4.45, Heineken UK Handicap Hurdle (class 3, 0-130)

Layout: right-handed, easy, level

Distance: 2 miles

Going: Soft, with Good to Soft places

Stables in strong form: Lucinda Russell

Stables in below par form: none

Claiming jockey watch: Brodie Hampson (Cougar Kid) claims 5 lb, 26/266. Thomas Dowson (Morning With Ivan) claims 3 lb, 51/605.
The selection for this is Nightfly, with reservations. Her chase debut was a very engaging offering, but the concern is that she has not raced since 3rd January and her stable is 24 runners without a win. Places have been sparse as well. Therefore the minimum price takes a bump up to 7/2.

HorseGoing DistanceCourse Comments
HeavySoft Gd-SoftGoodGd-Fm2mRHEasyLevel
------------------------ -------- -------------------------------------------
Think AheadY?YY
Cougar Kidx?YY?YYYYY
ElmonoxYYY?YYstable debut
Morning With IvanxYYY?YYY?Y

Points of Order

CENTURIUS (Venetia Williams), 11-12, official rating 117

This season he has only had one race, in mid-January, and got a right old stuffing in it. At the time nothing in his stable could punch their way out of a wet paper bag plus it was his chase debut, so now that the team has snapped out of whatever ailed them, there is a decent chance that he gets back to his best. The notable efforts from that perspective were early in 2017 when he was narrowly beaten at Sandown and then won at Ludlow. Look to Huntingdon for a maiden hurdle victory and Hereford for a corking effort in a handicap and we have a horse who is destined to love a spin around Perth. The three months off are no valid excuse either.

MONFASS (Rose Dobbin), 11-11, or 116, hood

After a sluggish opening salvo in his seasonal debut last October, he has had a right good time of racing. The Carlisle success off of a rating of 107 is the only actual win, but he lost the next three by an average of only three lengths. He only disappointed at Kelso’s televised Saturday meeting, losing by a dozen lengths. In Spring 2017 he had his season ended after just such a performance, in a lower class race, so it is possible that the desire to have a runner at the great Perth three dayer has outranked the concept of the horse being ready for a break. He may prefer the going to be more on the good to soft side than as it currently stands.

THINK AHEAD (James Moffatt), 11-11, or 116, cheekpieces

We do not have a great deal to go on when judging him as a jumper. On the flat he raced ten times, won three and closed out on a handsome handicap mark of 105. The problem since has been keeping busy. He debuted over hurdles pulling up, in November 2016, a race won by Sam Spinner. He has eight months before running again, adding cheekpieces and winning at Cartmel on soft and then another eight months off games before finishing a decent second of four at Haydock – ahead of Keyboard Gangster who beat Monfass at Kelso. Two runs in five weeks could do anything from motivate him to frighten the life out of the occasion sportsman. If he has retained his talents, the rating could be very workable.

COUGAR KID (John O’Shea), 11-9, or 114, cheekpieces

He has had a very confusing career. He was a well backed winner on bumper debut, possibly enjoying the quickish ground, but when he tried hurdling he first looked useless, and then when the ground got faster he was simply infuriatingly inconsistent. As well as winless. When success came it was two and a half miles on soft, puntastically at Catterick, which bewildered us all. Initially he was back to normal but suddenly he has popped up and won three of his last six races, from 1m 7.5f to 2m 3.5f on good and soft. Two of them were at Hereford, so Perth should not fox him, but other than that we have no clues as to what he will turn up and do. A drubbing at Wincanton last time may suggest that he is handicapped out of his grade now.

ELMONO (Lucinda Russell), 11-5, or 110

His peak days were in France in 2015 when he had four Spring and Summer races and split them between wins and seconds. He tried a couple of Paris races that Autumn and failed, but the Auteuil loss was not awful at listed level. Throughout 2016 he had three French runs and two Irish runs, losing all of them comfortably. So what we have is a horse starting for a new stable after seventeen months off, and with his best form at 2m 1.5f or a little further. The suspicion is that he has not got any faster in the time off, but he is still only seven years old.

MORNING WITH IVAN (Susan Corbett), 11-3, or 108, tongue tie

Over the years he has been a very likeable horse, one who does not like all-weather flat racing and has not really got the hang of chasing. On turf on flat he has won three of nine, and then seven of thirty two once allowed to go hurdling. That is a pretty good tally and he comes here with form this season of 11231, but it has been done from lower weights in lesser grade races, so the pressure he runs into here is greater than what has been on his plate on a sequence that began on handicap mark of merely 79. In fact he has only carried 11 stone or more over hurdles on seven occasions. The initial inclination was to rule him as out of his depth, but if he is going to compete at this level, it is own or probably never.
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