Early market moves for these two horses looks significant.
Small fields are the order of the day at Exeter with some trainers clear worried about running their horses on fast ground.
One horse who won’t mind the conditions and might well improve for them is BALLYBOUGH GORTA, who contests the 3m6f handicap chase on the card (due off 3.00pm). The race has attracted eight runners and the selection is the outsider of the lot at 12/1 (well, he was when I started writing this), but don’t let that put you off.
All of the runners have question marks about them and find it hard to win, mostly on account of the fact they are one-paced and need marathon trips like this one. The favourite Allthekingshorses has a better record than most but one win in eleven chase starts suggests he needs things to go his way, and Buck’s Bond, who is challenging for favouritism with some firms, arrives here on the back of two pulled up efforts, although he’s undoubtedly well handicapped.
The selection can boast a highly respectable record of eight wins in 25 chase starts and is a dour stayer who needs every yard of this trip these days. He’s got himself well handicapped again as he’s been running poorly on bad winter ground, and lines up today on a mark of 122, which is 3lb lower than his last winning one. He was still allocated top weight here but won’t carry it as his burden is reduced by his amateur rider’s 7lb claim.
What makes his really interesting at a price, though, is the fact he’s having his first run for Nick Mitchell, and he wouldn’t be the first horse to be revitalised by a change of scenery. Mitchell is also sounding upbeat about his chances, saying: “It’s a fact-finding mission as I’ve had him about a month, but he’s really pleased me and looking at his form the ground appears to be the key with him. He’s come down the weights on softer ground and will stay the trip. We’re taking a handy 7lb off him as he’s not the biggest.”
I was a little surprised to see TIGER O’TOOLE as short as 3/1 for the 2m3f conditional jockeys’ handicap hurdle at Carlisle (2.40pm) as he was forecast at 10/1 in my paper. That immediately tells me he’s fit and ready to go after a 348-day break and I’m prepared to swap him for my original selection Bryden Boy. The latter undoubtedly had a race like this in him off his current rating mark but the gambled on selection is even better handicapped on a mark of 110, having been as high as 134.
Like the first bet, he’s having his first run for a new trainer, in his case being switched from Evan Williams to Henry Oliver after losing his way, and he should walk this on some of his old form. In his prime, he was running at Grade 1 tracks like Cheltenham and Sandown, and even ran in the Galway Hurdle, finishing ninth to Overturn. Okay, that was some time ago now but the market support suggests he’s been showing up well at home, and there’s still plenty to of 7/2 on offer.