Our racing expert marks your card for Friday's action.
Paul Nicolls has a good record at his local meeting and of his four runners this afternoon, GARO DE JUILLEY is perhaps his best chance of a winner in the 2m handicap hurdle.
A useful sort when trained in France, going 3-3 in handicaps on the Flat, he wasn’t quite right in the first part of last season, including when letting favourite backers down at Chepstow in November. But he was clearly over what was ailing him when second at Taunton in January and had no trouble going one better when returned to that track in April.
His final run of the campaign was a bit of a disaster as he was pulled up in a three-runner affair, again at the Somerset venue, after failing to settle early and making a terrible blunder before his rider called time.
However, I’m prepared to put a line through that, especially as the ground may have been faster than he likes, and give him another chance here off what looks a winnable mark of 122 and with his stable going well (9-30, 30% in the last fortnight).
The feature 2m4f handicap chase on the card looks wide open with several holding claims, but the one I keep coming back to is the Philip Hobbs-trained ROLL THE DOUGH.
The winner of his first two hurdle starts a couple of seasons ago, he has been lightly raced since and shaped with promise when finishing third on his reappearance at Worcester in September, only weakening after the last having been off since November of the previous year.
He can surely build on that here and the handicapper has given him a chance too, dropping him a further 3lb to a mark of 114, which is 11lb lower than the one he started out on.
His trainer said after he had won on soft at Exeter that he wouldn’t want the ground that slow, so the forecast good ground, which may ease a little given the forecast, should be ideal for him and he too hails from an in-form stable, with Hobbs having sent out six winners from 23 runners (26%) in the last fortnight.