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No joy on Saturday, and a recharge the batteries day on Sunday, so with the flame rekindled, let's burn on through today's sextet of trials at sunny Newton Abbot. It all starts with the...
2.15 - Leg 1: I was bold and banked in leg one on Saturday, and it turned out to be a reckless manoevre. Nevertheless, such a play does keep the powder dry for later in the piece, and today it seems pointless trying to get Another Hero out of the frame. He's got to prove he can jump after a brace of bumper wins, but this longer trip should see him in a better light, and the level of his NH Flat form is far higher than any of his rivals have achieved.
There are plenty with scope to do better - as one might expect in such a contest - but it'd have to be a case of three excelling or Another Hero under-performing, or a combination of the two. Possible, but not something I'd bet on.
Another Hero. Banker.
A - 9 (Another Hero)
2.45 - Leg 2: An interesting beginners' chase, and McCoy has double prospects here with Ace Fighter Pilot. He's the pick of the hurdles form, with an official rating of 130. But he did run a clunker on chase debut (fourth of four, beaten plenty), and I don't really trust connections to run a horse on its merits outside of handicap company. So I'll be looking for support for this fellow.
Escudero is still in training with Paul Nicholls, which is interesting, but his hurdle rating was no better than 120 and, with a question mark over how much he retains ability, he looks a dodgy proposition.
Well Mett sets the standard on his recent form, after chasing home the talented American Spin here over a bit further. Dropped back in trip to something close to optimal based on hurdles form, and with proven course chase form, he's almost banker material... but not quite.
Ballylifen just doesn't know how to win (eleven places from fourteen runs, no wins!) but he's reliable all right. Trouble is, the ground is an unknown as he's never raced on this firm and, as a son of Brian Boru, he's not obviously bred for it.
Utimately, this isn't that strong a race, and one or both of Ace Fighter Pilot and Well Mett should hit the board at least.
A - 1 (Ace Fighter Pilot), 10 (Well Mett)
3.15 - Leg 3: This looks a two horse race, and dual winner, Massannie, is the more obvious of the pair. Trip and ground look perfect, and she's already beaten main (only?) danger, Emerald Rose, by a dozen lengths. The latter received seven pounds for Massannie's winner's penalty, but five pound claimer, Gavin Sheehan, takes off that much more, but I'd still favour the favourite.
If one of the pair under-achieves today, Night Of Passion is most interesting.
A - 1 (Massannie)
3.45 - Leg 4: Right, on the plus side we've used very little ammunition to this point. On the minus side, we're looking for three jollies to be placed. So, whilst the divvy may not be the greatest this afternoon (and if I'm wrong, it might be!), we can at least get a bit more bold with our staking, and claim a few more fractions of whatever it might return. In any case, next up is a well contested (5/1 the field) handicap chase, and that could whittle the tickets nicely enough.
With Whispering Jack, Double Chocolate and No Loose Change in the field, it looks as though there will be plenty of pace and, over this marathon trip, a stout stayer is required even on a sharp track like Newton Abbot. Ballybough Gorta was spanked on his only try at this sort of trip, but that was on soft ground and, on this quicker turf, he has a lot going for him. He'll likely track the pace and be perfectly poised to kick on... if there's any petrol left in the tank.
Sheriff Hutton is another with stamina reservations but, given his two attempts on fast ground over this sort of distance yielded a pair of P's, he's excluded.
Double Chocolate stays fine, but he's likely to be compromised by the pace duel and this class is usually beyond him in any case.
City Press is unexposed and deserves a crack at both this trip and this grade. It's far from certain he'll be able to perform under the sterner examination of either of those, but he might, and he at least hasn't shown he can't do that yet.
But Royale Knight might be the one to beat. He failed to continue his progression last time, when 'only' third, but prior to that had won eight of his previous eleven races! A mark of 112 means he gets weight from most of these, and his proven stamina, a recent win in this grade, and an overall upward profile all make him a fair wager here at around 6/1.
Satou is an in-and-out performer, but is capable of getting in the mix if on a going day; and Hell's Bay could have a squeak if they go quick, and if his jumping survives the test. It often doesn't!
A - 5 (Ballybough Gorta), 11 (Royale Knight)
B - 2 (Hell's Bay), 7 (City Press), 12 (Double Chocolate)
4.15 - Leg 5: Party Palace is weak in the wagering for this handicap hurdle, but he's fit and in great nick, having rattled off a six week hat-trick, interspersed with a couple of flat runs. Phew! If he's not knackered, I'd expect him to continue his progression here against mainly exposed rivals. It's also worth noting that two of that hat-trick were scored over course and distance. He's placed on seven of the nine occasions he's raced here.
The two others that interest me are Jaja De Jau and Gud Day. The former is a weak finisher - she's just not quite long enough in the stamina department - but she jumps well and has ability: I should know, I own about two hairs on her tail! She's getting better and on this sharp track in a race likely to be run at less than a true gallop, she might do enough to win. Certainly, she ought to be on the premises.
Gud Day loves fast ground, and is consistent enough, if limited. This is his trip, for sure, and he ought to be in the shake up turning in too. Tamarillo Grove has bits of form to give him a squeak too, though I may be guilty of giving him one chance too many.
A - 3 (Party Palace), 7 (Jaja De Jau)
B - 1 (Gud Day), 5 (Tamarillo Grove)
4.45 - Leg 6: And so we close our slimline Monday placepot... with a big field handicap hurdle. Nice.
Detroit Red is a solid favourite after hacking up when well backed last time, in a lady riders' race. That was off 85 and her new mark is 97, a whacking great twelve pound elevation. Plus, the jockey was taking another five pounds off the last day. So Detroit is now seventeen pounds worse off. Against that, she did win easily, and she may be able to defy the weight against generally out of form oppo. We can't leave her out, but she's of little use to us either, so we need to try to get her beaten, despite the barrage of cash for her this morning!
(Incidentally, if you want to keep a tight ship today, you could bank on her, and then lay her for a place on Betfair to cover your stakes).
I'll take three on B against her: Little Eaglet, Gap Of Dunloe, and No Woman No Cry. The first and last have loads of track form and, while Little Eaglet is in far better form, you never write off Colin Tizzard round here.
Gap Of Dunloe comes form the flying Peter Bowen stable, and is the sort I like: moderate form figures (P404-0) but fair form chance. It's possible that he's a bleeder, based on how he's finished in some of his races, but he's definitely worth a chance as there's unlikely to be a lot of cash for him in the pools.
A - 6 (Detroit Red)
B - 4 (Gap Of Dunloe), 8 (Little Eaglet), 9 (No Woman No Cry)
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