Tom Ward’s first full year with a licence didn’t go as well as many might have expected, but a tough first season will have taught the ex-Richard Hannon Assistant Trainer plenty and his team have started 2021 in fine form, with 10 of their 13 runners hitting the frame.

The Ward-trained Valentine Blues looked likely to give the Lambourn-based handler another winner when scooting clear at Wolverhampton back in January, only to get reeled in close to the line.  That race, the form of which worked out very well, was over 6f and it was no surprise to see the filly dropped back to the minimum at the same course last time.  However, she faced plenty of competition for the lead from her wide draw and was parked five-wide entering the home turn, so it is understandable that she had little left to offer late on.

Though she has a wide draw to contend with once again, the booking of Ben Curtis (replacing an apprentice) is a big plus, as is this drop in grade to a 0-55.  With the exception of the favourite, there isn’t a great deal in the race in the way of early pace, so Curtis should be able to adopt a prominent position before kicking for home in the straight.

Her half-brother improved from a mark of 58 as a spring three year old to 91 by the end of the year and I believe there is more to come from Valentine Blues as a sprinter.  At 5-1, she looks overpriced to continue her yard’s strong recent record.

4.25pm Wolverhampton: 1pt each-way Valentine Blues @ 5-1 (Bet365, 9/2 elsewhere)