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Matthew Sutcliffe’s Value Punts – Saturday, 6th April

Action north of the border is preoccupying our value man Matty Sutcliffe on Saturday. He has two early selections for your weekend bets at Kelso, including a near-miss in a previous column.

Published: 1.20pm, Wednesday, 3rd April (Odds correct at time of publication)

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1:50 Kelso – Schloss Roxburghe Hotel Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4yo+) – Ramo 7/1 1pt WIN 

RAMO was a bet for the column last time out when agonisingly beaten a neck by the well-handicapped Nurse Susan at Lingfield and we can gain compensation by going one better this time around. The winner was well gambled upon that day and Ramo pulled nicely clear from the third, who subsequently ran a good race in sixth in the Pertemps Final at Cheltenham, as did the 21-length sixth Bold Endeavour, who was beaten three lengths into fourth at Cheltenham. Stablemate Tanganyika further boosted the form when dotting up by 25 lengths at Newbury, so Ramo should have no issue coping with a 5lb rise (though effecitvely 10lb given Ned Fox claimed 5lb there, should Charlie Deutsch retain the ride). 

With the weather causing havoc across the country, it’s no surprise Venetia Williams is among the winners and this French-bred son of Kapgarde should have no issues with the deep underfoot conditions. The yard took this with a seven-year-old in 2019, their only winner over hurdles here in the last five seasons (other runner placed), and Ramo particularly thrives around left-handed sharp tracks (Plumpton, Lingfield, Newton Abbot) so although he’s making his course debut, he’ll be able to cope with the conditions of the course and returning to his last winning distance further boosts confidence. 

2:25 Kelso – Belhaven Brewery Go North Cab On Target Handicap Hurdle (Series Final) (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4yo+) – North Parade 12/1 1pt EW (4 places) 

Sue Smith had the winner of this race in 2022 with a resurgent eight-year-old, and was unlucky not to have the winner last season when Prairie Wolf was beaten half a length giving the winner 18lb, though would have won with a better jump at the last. The nine-year-old NORTH PARADE is her sole contender this season, and though he has a career high mark to contend with, comes into the race in excellent form. 

The son of Dylan Thomas saw his form tail off before a brief stint over fences failed to spark improvement, but he bounced back to form over hurdles when landing a gamble at Newcastle in December, pulling 22 lengths clear with one who is now rated 18lb higher. North Parade coped with a 7lb rise next time out over C&D (9lb with William Maggs only claiming 5lb) up in grade  despite some sketchy jumping and omitted hurdles, and racked up a course and distance hat-trick in February comfortably dispatching a subsequent winner now 9lb higher. The latter win we can upgrade massively given he fared best of those held up (others finished 50 lengths seventh and PU), and was the only winner on the entire card not to win by making all. 

His winning streak came to a halt when beaten a five-length third in a 0-130 at Wetherby, but it was still a joint best performance on RPR’s (113), and again he was unsuited by the track position bias given the first and second were prominent throughout. We can upgrade that performance further given North Parade was shuffled right back in rear there when short of running room on the turn, losing several lengths before regaining momentum and staying on strongly up the run-in, unsurprisingly clocking the highest overall finishing percentage in the final four furlongs. The form has worked out well with the winner taking a class 2 by twelve lengths next time out now rated 135.

The yard then tried him over three miles on soft ground at Haydock last time out and the omission of six hurdles won’t have aided any stamina concerns, and for all he seemed to stay on there, I don’t think that race saw him in his best light but he still ran another PB RPR (113) beaten three lengths by the well backed progressive favourite, again faring best of those racing in rear with the other beaten nine lengths and 17 lengths.

As mentioned, though he is on that career high mark, those last two efforts can be marked up and he’ll benefit from being tucked away in rear in this bigger field and can continue Sue Smith’s success in targeting this contest in the last two years. He’ll have no issue should the ground come up heavy with his record on (according to Timeform) soft-heavy ground reading 3121132 and dropping back to 2m5f with stamina proven for further will certainly boost his claims.

Added: 1.15pm, Thursday, 4th April (Odds correct at time of publication)

1:50 Kelso – Schloss Roxburghe Hotel Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4yo+) – Crystal Glory 12/1 1pt WIN 

Rather frustratingly, Ramo hasn’t been declared despite being jocked up so we’ll have to take the hit on that. However, I’d still like to get this Dan Skelton favourite beat as for all he went in easily last time out, he’s 33lb higher than his first win and has been winning some bad races, with the second and third from last time out subsequently pulling up and beaten 88 lengths in their respective efforts. 

The one who could be chucked in here, though requires some faith, is CRYSTAL GLORY for Nicky Richards. We haven’t seen the son of Fame and Glory since December 2022 when pulling up lame in a two-runner novice chase at Haydock when 4/11F. We’re going to have to chance he’s fit/ready for this competitive race, but it’s a nice enough pot for connections who can ready one off a break and while this is a fair layoff, Crystal Glory is three from three when fresh – debut, 376 days, 222 days. 

A mark of 133 looks workable given his novice hurdling form, where he posted RPR’s of 133, 137 and 134 in his last three runs including a second to Hillcrest in the Grade 2 Prestige Novices’ Hurdle and a fourth in the Grade 1 Sefton at Aintree. 

His price no doubt factors in the lay-off, but if fit and ready then he can go close to make a winning return here. He shaped in the Sefton as if this further trip would suit, and his yard are 2/6 in handicap hurdles here this season. 

3:00 Kelso – Paxtons For Kverneland Machinery & Genuine Spares Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2) (5yo+) – Ballycoose 1pt WIN 8/1 

Stuart Crawford and the Souede’s have made a habit of raiding some contests on these shores this season, latterly with I Love My Baie at 22/1 at Newbury last month, as well as the likes of Park Annonciade, Brucio, and Joshua Des Flos among others. BALLYCOOSE has stamina to prove stepping up to 3m2f over fences, but by Mahler out of a Presenting mare, he may be up to the task. 

His best RPR over hurdles came at Ayr over a similar trip (3m½f ) which bodes well for this test over fences, and he made a winning debut in this sphere when making most of the running at Ayr in heavy ground in January, jumping soundly throughout. The drop back to two miles wasn’t an obvious signal for improvement, but I’d guess it was a test to sharpen him up mentally over fences by placing him in against some speedier types. As expected, he travelled well but was done for toe at the business end, and we can forgive him for his defeat last time out where he lost all momentum after walking through a fence two out when was travelling well at the time on unfavourable ground. 

Though he’s 4lb out of the weights, he still receives a chunk of weight from Elvis Mail and Does He Know, and if he can cope with his stiffer test on slow ground then he may be spark a minor upset. He’s clearly held in high regard as when he won his novice at Ayr in December 2021 there was talk of him going to face Jonbon at Haydock, and his fourth to Harvard Guy over hurdles at Naval in November suggests he still has plenty of handicapping scope in this sphere despite being out of the weights.

Matty Sutcliffe’s Value Punts

1:50 Kelso – Schloss Roxburghe Hotel Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4yo+) – Ramo 7/1 1pt WIN (NR)

2:25 Kelso – Belhaven Brewery Go North Cab On Target Handicap Hurdle (Series Final) (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4yo+) – North Parade 12/1 1pt EW (4 places)

Added Thursday

1:50 Kelso – Schloss Roxburghe Hotel Handicap Hurdle (GBB Race) (Class 2) (4yo+) – Crystal Glory 12/1 1pt WIN 

3:00 Kelso – Paxtons For Kverneland Machinery & Genuine Spares Handicap Chase (GBB Race) (Class 2) (5yo+) – Ballycoose 1pt WIN 8/1 

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