Southwell Spotlight: Libeccio can strike for red-hot Balding

Trainer Andrew Balding has his team in terrific form at present and Libeccio looks to hold outstanding claims of providing him with another winner in the 4.05 at Southwell today.

The Kingsclere handler has saddled five winners from his last seven runners and boasts a 40% strike rate with his runners at the track in the past 12 months.

In Libeccio he has a horse who has shaped with bags or promise in his last two starts and should be more than capable of winning races from his current handicap mark of 71.

The son of Shirocco ran well on his final start last season when staying on to finish third to Notarised over 1m 2f, and made a promising reappearance at Kempton last month when chasing home Tizlove Regardless over 1m 3f.

He kept on well in the latter to be beaten 2 3/4 length by a thriving horse who was completing a hat-trick, and now gets into this contest off the same handicap mark.

That gives the three-year-old every chance of opening his account, especially as he is sure to strip much fitter with that run under his belt and is likely to appreciate the step up in trip this afternoon to 1m 4f.

Providing he takes to the fibresand surface he looks the one they all have to beat.

In the 7f handicap at 3.00, the booking of Silvestre De Sousa to partner Very First Blade catches the eye.

Mick Mullineaux’s gelding last scored over 6f at the track last June where he beat Upper Lambourn by a neck off 49 when trained by Mark Brisbourne.

He has been running really well of late without getting his head in front, including when beaten just a nose to All Right Now over course and distance four starts back.

The five-year-old now meets that rival on 1lb better terms and gets into the contest off his last winning mark.

That gives him a big shout from a handicapping perspective, and he is clearly well suited by the fibresand surface having notched two of his three career success on it.

De Sousa looks the type of rider who will suit the horse, and he looks decent each-way value at the odds on offer.

In the 2m handicap at 3.30, Teajaybe looks up to defying an 8lb rise in the weights following a runaway success over course and distance last time out.

Chris Dwyer’s gelding slammed Adili by eight lenghs 14 days ago, travelling ominously well throughout before shooting clear and winning with any amount in hand.

The runner-up has come out and won since to give the form a boost, and if turning up in the same mood Teajaybe is going to be very hard to beat.

2.00: Abscent Friends
2.30: Molly Ahoy
3.00: Very First Blade
3.30: Teajaybe (NB)
4.05: Libeccio (NAP)
4.35: Royal Warrior
5.05: Chapellerie