Following stables in form is a good route to profit, and it may give us a winning double this afternoon
I’m a big believer in stable form and generally won’t bet on a horse unless the trainer in question is having winners.
Hot, as opposed to cold trainers, can win with the stable cat when firing on all cylinders, which offers up the chance of finding decent-priced winners, and Nigel Hawke is certainly in the former category right now. His last seven runners have produced form figures of 131101F and I’m hoping his good run continues with MIDNIGHT REQUEST, who makes her fourth start for the stable in the 3m novices’ handicap chase at Exeter (4.30pm).
The mare failed to land a gamble at Fontwell in December when under the care of Tom Symonds and, perhaps as a result, was switched the Devon stable of Hawke, for whom she has finished third on her last two starts. The ability is clearly there and the step up to today’s trip could be what she needs. She appeared not to stay this far when beaten at Taunton two starts back, but that was over hurdles and the slower pace they go over fences will help her. Certainly, she looked to be crying out for a stamina test when staying on over 2m5f at stiff Carlisle last time and Tom Scudamore, who has booted home seven winners from 31 runners (23%) for the stable this term, is likely to play her late.
Another trainer who seems to blow hot and cold is Anthony Honeyball and now he’s hit some form I’m very interested in his HORACE HAZEL in the 2m7f novices’ handicap hurdle that closes the card (5.05pm). I’ve had the six-year-old in my notebook for a while as a cast iron winner of a handicap like this one in the spring, and today could be the day. A smart bumper performer who won on his second start in that sphere here last May, before running respectably in a Cheltenham bumper, he has hardly set the world alight in three runs over hurdles. The upshot to that being he now goes handicapping off what is a very workable mark of 99, thus allowing him to run in this modest 0-115 handicap.
I will be amazed if he’s not a 125+ rated horse in time and, in that case, he must take all the beating here, especially as the forecast favourite Follow The Tracks looks opposable. It was a very poor race he won at Taunton last time and, while he did it easy enough, one of the reasons put up for his improved display was better ground. Conditions will be a little more testing this afternoon and that should hold no fears for the selection, who looks certain to appreciate the step up in trip given he’s by Sir Harry Lewis and is a half-brother to the stable’s winning stayer Taradrewe. What’s more, last month’s spin out at Wincanton will have put him spot on.