Lancashire TelegraphRacing column: Tough going is on the cards (From Lancashire Telegraph)

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Racing column: Tough going is on the cards

I WAS very taken with the comeback run of the great Big Buck’s at Cheltenham in the Cleeve Hurdle at Cheltenham on Saturday and was astonished when some layers pushed the four-time World Hurdle winner out to 3/1 for his nap hand.

He is a best priced 5/2 but 7/4 non runner no bet at BetVictor and that looks the best option knowing you will get your monies refunded if for some reason he doesn’t make the field.

There is a precautionary inspection ay Ayr this morning for the BetVictor sponsored jumps card and if the track passes the 7.30 inspection conditions are bound to be extremely testing.

Gordon Elliot’s Layla Joan (12.45) was value for more than the length advantage she had at the line at Fairyhouse on New Year’s Day and she can defy the penalty in the opening Derby Red Card Refund Mares’ Hurdle. Jason Maguire takes the ride and there is a strong Irish challenge with McCoy taking the mount on winning pointer Midnight Streaker for Ballymena handler Benjamin Arthey and Nosey Box for Derry trainer Noel Kelly.

Donald McCain had four entries at the five-day stage of the maiden hurdle but relies upon Kings Bandit (1.15) who makes his hurdles debut having finished fourth in two soft ground bumpers where on neither occasion he settled for Jason Maguire.

The ability is certainly there and if he is more amenable to restraint he can make a winning start over obstacles.

The 3m 1f Handicap Chase can go to Too Cool To Fool (1.45) who is entitled to come on for his seasonal reappearance here earlier in the month and has been dropped 4lbs for that effort. Trained by Jim Goldie the horse won on this corresponding meeting last year off a 13lb higher mark over hurdles and his jumping improved as the race went on when third beaten 20 lengths in third over C&D at the last meeting.

I am hoping for a return to form for Allanard (3.20) in the 2m 4f handicap chase for Martin Todhunter dropping back in trip having disappointed behind a subsequent winner at Catterick last time.

The yard have had a quiet first half of the season but there have been signs that they are coming to the boil and this inmate is 5lb lower than his last winning mark.

There is also flat action from Wolverhampton where Upholland (3.40) can land his maiden at the fifth time of asking if adapting to the polytrack surface. A beaten favourite in two of his four starts on turf he is obviously no star but opposition looks thin on the ground although the newcomer Fitzgerald is certainly bred for the job and a market move would be worth noting.

The extended nine furlong handicap is a cracking heat with all six runners having realistic chances but Sir Charlie Kunz (4.40) gets the nod on his handicap debut for Mark Johnston, having shaped as if a step up in trip would suit at Lingfield over a mile last week. Jockey Joe Fanning is excellent from the front and the hope is he makes plenty of use of his unexposed grey.

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