We head back to Ayr today for the second time in a week with five runners, kicking off with Royal Reserve and Spark of Madness in the 2m handicap hurdle. Still young and relatively inexperienced, Spark of Madness would have an each-way chance on the pick of his form to date, notably his second at Perth in September. Royal Reserve, in contrast, is approaching the veteran stage of his career, and although he is potentially well handicapped for this return to hurdles, he does have something to prove having been so lightly raced in recent years.
In the 2m3f handicap hurdle, Red Missile drops back in trip having failed to get home over 3m at Musselburgh last time. We hope the distance will suit, although he will need to improve in what looks a competitive contest.
We are represented in both of the 2m handicap chases on the card, with Bollingerandkrug lining up in the novice event and the evergreen Vengeur de Guye taking his chance in the finale. Bollingerandkrug shaped with promise when a close third over 2½m at Ayr on last month’s chasing debut, but this would be a classier affair and he’ll need to take a step forward from 2lb out of the weights. For Vengeur de Guye, the handicapper continues to give him a chance, and for all he is vulnerable to younger progressive rivals, he is a former course and distance winner who should give a good account of himself.
Looking back at Haydock on Saturday, we were pleased with the run of Haute Estime who finished fourth in the Listed Novice Hurdle. She just found 2m on good ground a little on the sharp side against that calibre of opposition, but she galloped all the way to the line and will appreciate stepping up in trip next time. An early mistake on this rise in grade meant Speak of The Devil never established a jumping rhythm in the long-distance handicap chase and there will be other days for him.
Lucinda Russell Racing