Our resident tipster has picked out three Taunton runners worth backing.
Harry Fry has his string in fine form and the trainer has double prospects at Taunton, where he can boast a 24% (8-33) strike rate.
His LADY OF LAMANVER showed plenty of promise in bumpers, finishing placed in all three of her starts in that sphere, and again on her hurdles debut at Exeter in March. She was put away after that to conserve her novice status and, reappearing over two miles at Uttoxeter last month, she ran her best race yet when finishing second behind the highly regarded Out Of The Mist, with a 12-length gap back to the third.
On that evidence she can definitely win a race or two this season and quite possibly today as she is potentially well treated on a mark of 116 for the mares’ handicap hurdle over 2m3f (due off 1.40pm). It’s a competitive little race, mind, and you have to respect the last-time-out winners, Lil Waugh and Kayf Willow, with the latter just preferred of that pair. But the selection possesses plenty of scope for improvement after just five starts and the step up to today’s trip is ideal, given the way she has been finishing off her races over shorter.
Fry will saddle top weight TEMPLATE in the 2m handicap hurdle run later on the card (3.10pm), and I fancy the four-year-old can shrug that off that burden to beat 15 rivals. Having shown some ability when trained on the flat and on his hurdles debut here in January, he was quietly fancied when winning a “hands and heels” handicap for conditional jockeys at Market Rasen just seven days ago. He won nicely too under Liam McKenna, who is back on board today and takes a handy 7lb off his back, without being given a hard race and he can race off the same mark here.
Last, but definitely not least, I will be hoping to recover losses incurred on Kim Bailey’s BALLYKNOCK LAD when he runs in the 2m7f novices’ limited handicap chase (2.10pm). I thought he was a good bet at Chepstow on his reappearance and, having watched him travel well and take it up three out, it was heartbreaking to see him collared on the run-in by the winner Tobefair, who was landing a hat-trick and is a horse to follow.
Still, to his credit he stuck on gamely once headed and had the rest well beaten off, so a 5lb rise for that effort seems fair. I thought he was well treated beforehand and took encouragement from some positive comments made by his trainer in a recent Stable Tour, with the gist being he’d had a breathing operation and had done really well over the summer. He doesn’t want the ground too soft and will likely be put away at some point soon until the spring, but today’s race on “good” ground looks an ideal opportunity and his stable could not be in better form.