Ludlow Preview: Hold Court gets the verdict

Hold Court has dropped markedly in the weights and, with conditions at Ludlow in his favour, looks to hold leading claims of taking advantage and landing the spoils in the finale at 5.30.

The Evan Williams’ trained gelding looked a smart propsect when winning his first two starts over hurdles back in 2012, and was far from disgraced when third to The New One in a Grade 2 contest at Warwick when trying to complete the hat-trick.

He started life in handicaps off a mark of 132 on the back of that effort, and now gets into this contest off a career-low of 115.

That gives Hold Court major claims at the weights, if putting some poor recent efforts behind him and bouncing back to anything like his best.

It looks significant that he was heavily punted last time out before finishing a well-beaten fourth of seven to Baltimore Rock on heavy ground at this track, as that suggests that his shrewd connections belive they have a very well-handicapped horse on their hands.

The seven-year-old has also won three of his four starts at the venue, and all of those successes have come on good ground which he encounters today.

In the novices’ handicap chase at 3.00, Nigel Twiston-Davies’ Speed Master looks to hold leading claims of following up his recent success at Warwick.

A former smart hurdler when trained by Nicky Henderson, the eight-year-old stepped up significantly on his first two starts over the larger obstacles when running out a ready three length winner at the Midlands venue.

He seemed to relish the good going that day, and looks capable of defying a 7lb rise in the weights under similar conditions.

Elsewhere on the card, Saint Jerome looks a worthy odds-on shot to get favourite backers off to a flying start in the opener at 2.30 and Toubab looks weighted to run a big race at huge odds in the handicap hurdle at 4.30.

The latter was a useful sort when trained by Paul Nicholls, winning three times and rated as high as 144 over hurdles.

Now in the care of Dan Skelton, he is down to a mark of just 122 and shaped quite well last time out at Stratford when finishing seventh of 14 to Leviathan on his first start back from a break.

He is entitled to come on significantly with that run under his belt, and on the good ground the he relishes is now too well-treated to ignore on the pick of his back form.

2.30: Saint Jerome
3.00: Speed Master (NB)
3.30: Maypole Lass
4.00: Divine Intavention
4.30: Toubab
5.00: Rockiteer
5.30: Hold Court (NAP)