Wetherby Expert Eye: Course stats and three horses to back

The jumpers are in action at Wetherby on Thursday and we're sweet on the chances of three runners in particular.

We have three outright picks, all at decent odds, along with some useful course stats in the hope of putting you on a winner or two, while the Planet Sport Racing Live Centre is where you'll find the highly informative Wetherby race card.

Selections:

Glencassley (15.58 Wetherby)

Templebredin (16.33 Wetherby)

Freethinker (17.05 Wetherby)

Course characteristics

Left-handed oval, galloping with easy bends. Circuit 1m4f. A fair test for any horse but ideally suited to free-running, long-striding sorts 

Top trainers with runners

Anything Dan Skelton runs here has to be respected as he's 48-1657 (29%) over the past five seasons and 16-43 this term.

He has a couple of runners this afternoon: Quiet Flow in the opening maiden hurdle (14.15) and Jet Plane (15.58), who is up against one of our selections.

Top jockeys with rides

His brother Harry unsurprisingly leads the jockeys' stats with 42 of his 133 rides (32%) here finding the winners' enclosure, with his strike rate jumping to 43% (15-35) in the current season.

The Skeltons are a formidable partnership at Wetherby

The unstoppable Brian Hughes is 34-212 (16%) over the same five-season period and he has a strong book of rides: Spiritofthenorth (14.15), Clearance (14.50), Miss Amelia (15.25), who was almost a pick, Highway Companion (15.58), Sigurd (16.33) and Storm Force One (17.35).

15.58 Wetherby - Glencassley

Things haven't gone to plan for Charlie Longsdon's seven-year-old since winning back-to-back novices last year, including a race here last October on good ground, but his more recent efforts have hinted at a return to winning form and this 2m5f handicap hurdle looks a suitable opportunity.

He was pitched into Grade 2 company at Cheltenham's Paddy Power meeting when attempting to land a hat-trick and he was clearly found out behind the likes of Blazing Khan and Gelino Bello, finishing fifth of the six runners.

Since returning to action after wind surgery, he was far from disgraced when sixth of the 16 runners in a handicap at Ascot and then ran better still when third at Doncaster in January over a trip short of his best.

Another personal best was on the cards when last seen out at Ludlow in February as he was close up and would have been placed again (most likely third) but for falling at the last, despite the soft conditions being against him.

All that suggests he's capable of winning off his current mark of 116 and at a track where he is 2-2 - he also won a bumper here in March 2020 - he must go close for his in-form yard under Sean Bowen.

16.33 Wetherby - Templebredin

With doubts over his nine rivals in this 3m handicap chase, it could be worth taking a chance on prolific pointer Templebredin on his first start for the in-form Dr Richard Newland.

Dr Richard Newland is adept at placing his handicappers

A winner of five of his 12 starts between the flags in Ireland, he was completing in hunter chases around this time last year and managed to get his head in front at Clonmel on heavy ground, which wouldn't have suited him at all.

His former trainer said at the time he'd be a "lot better on better ground" and while a little rain is forecast it's doubtful the ground will deteriorate too much from the current good to soft.

This is his first start in handicap company and his mark of 112 should be one that his trainer, who is adept at finding winning opportunities for his handicappers in particular, can exploit and the selection wouldn't be the first horse to improve for the switch to his Worcestershire-based yard.

Charlie Hammond, who is 3-6 on the stable runners in the last fortnight and 65-343 (19%) overall, takes the reigns.

17.05 Wetherby - Freethinker (nap)

The final selection is another trained by Charlie Longsdon and the improving six-year-old will have the services of the stable's conditional rider, Lilly Pichin, who has given the selection cracking rides the last twice to score and is value for her 5lb claim.

A headstrong type as a novice and difficult to train as he was "so wild" and so feral" at home, according to this trainer, the penny seemed to drop for him at Lingfield in November, when finishing second of the 13 runners.

His two Newcastle wins since the turn of the year weren't unexpected then and there is almost certainly more to come from him as he matures, with a hike in grade on the cards should he land the hat-trick this afternoon off what is still a generous mark of 94.

Both his wins were on good ground, which clearly suits, but he has run well on good to soft and only should the ground turn heavy, which seems most likely, would there be any worries on that score.

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