Southwell preview: Double chance for Jonjo
Trainer Jonjo O’Neill does particularly well with his runners at Southwell and Amuse Me and Champagne Present hold leading claims of providing the Jackdaws Castle handler with a double on today’s six-race card at the Nottinghamshire venue.
Amuse Me runs in the 2m 4f handicap chase that opens proceedings (14.10) and looks well-treated having returned to form of late.
The nine-year-old took advantage of a drop in the weights to score in good style at Worcester three starts back, and was then far from disgraced next time up when fourth at Bangor over a 2m 7f trip which seemed to stretch his stamina to the limit.
Amuse Me also ran very well last time out over hurdles when third at Stratford, but is better as a chaser and now returns to the larger obstacles off what looks a handy mark of 107.
The gelding has been rated as high as 115 in the past, and with Richard Johnson in the saddle and conditions to suit looks weighted to take all the beating given his current mood.
Champagne Present was a costly failure when last seen in action but could prove a different proposition on handicap debut in the 2m 4f hurdle (16.10).
The gelding was bought for £210k after winning Irish point, and after shaping with plenty of promise in decent novice contests got off off the mark over at Ludlow back in February when staying on well to score by 3 3/4 lengths despite making mistakes.
Champagne Present then got turned over at odds of 1/4 when runner-up over course and distance, but was clearly not right and has since been given a break to freshen up.
The son of Presenting also looked a weak type last season who needed time to strengthen and mature, and after just five runs under rules remains unexposed and open to stacks more improvement.
An opening handicap mark of 126 does not look harsh given that Champagne Present ran well to be fourth in a Grade 2 contest at Ascot on just his second start over the obstacles, and with Richie McLernon in the saddle he can take this before going on to better things.
14.10: Amuse Me (NB)
14.40: Lily Waugh
15.10: Empty The Tank
15.40: Epic Warrior
16.10: Champagne Present (NAP)