Our racing guru is eyeing up a Friday double.
Alan King’s horses continue to run well and that makes the trainer’s KATIE TOO all the more irresistible when she runs in this afternoon’s Grade 2 mares’ novices’ hurdle over 2m3f at Sandown (due off 2.45pm).
It’s a competitive contest for sure but she brings rock-solid bumper form to the table and has won both her hurdle starts this winter without turning a hair (combined winning margin of 44 lengths). Her latest victory at Warwick came over 2m5f and her proven stamina is going to be a big asset in the testing conditions, whereas main rival Tara Flow, the winner of four of her six career starts, is stepping up from two miles and has it to prove.
This is a step up in class for the selection but she looks progressive enough to cope and connections are hoping the race can prove a stepping stone to the new Mares’ Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival, for which she is quoted at around the 12/1 mark. Richard Johnson takes over in the saddle and with the stable firing on all cylinders – King’s last three runners have all won – the partnership can justify favouritism.
Neil Mulholland is better known as a trainer of jumpers but he does well with those he runs on the flat and his MASTER BURBIDGE looks primed to give him another winner in that sphere when he lines up in the amateur riders’ handicap at Lingfield (5.05pm). The late-maturing five-year-old has run two solid races on the all-weather since being switched from hurdles, finishing third on both occasions, and he travelled like a horse who is much better than his current mark of 51 over track and trip last time, going down by just two necks.
The form of that race looks strong for the grade as the winner has since completed a hat-trick and the runner-up scored easily off a higher mark next time. Now it’s the turn of the selection, who is just 1lb higher, and if his amateur partner can hold on to him for a bit longer in what looks a weaker contest and with the cheek-pieces that have worked so well the last twice reapplied, he can take advantage.